An Introduction to Database as a Service (DBaaS)
If you're administrating an enterpise IT environment or developing software, you're dealing with databases. Database platforms collect and organize information from applications, allowing the program and users to access, manage, and update relevant data. You need a database to recall data when necessary.
Once you've chosen a database platform, you have a few major decisions to make. Where do you deploy your database? Who will manage your database infrastructure? Enter Database as a Service, or DBaaS. This emerging SaaS subcategory enables near-instantaneous provisioning of preconfigured virtual infrastructure stacks that are ready for data.
Managed Database Infrastructure Advantages
Once you sign up for DBaaS, you can spin up a new database server in mninutes or seconds. This is achieved through virtual machine catalogs or VM clones. Many cloud providers can provide licensing for common databases like SQL, MySQL, or MongoDB, and they may have cloud templates ready to go at a moment's notice. Other common databases and enterprise application vendors that include database products, like Oracle, SAP, and IBM DB2 are supported on VMware virtualization. All you need is a license and you can install the database on your virtual machine(s).
If you need to beef up a database server by provisioning additional storage or compute resources, you can login to a web portal and add them on demand. For example, you might be processing a large batch of data, or anticipating a heavy user load on an eCommerce application for a sale. You can scale up for a period of intense use and then scale down again afterwards to maximize cost-efficiency.
For on-premise systems, it can take weeks or even months to figure out the necessary hardware, obtain it from a vendor, and install and test it in a datacenter — and that's before you license, install, configure, and test the database platform itself. DBaaS providers can vouch for compatibility and VM configuration, providing you with a cloud database that is guaranteed to work with your applications.
Hardware obstacles go beyond the provisioning and installation process, too. Maintaining a data center with 24/7 availability is a constant battle. With limited IT resources, you might be better off leaving the hardware management to a service provider and focusing on development or database administration.
With a DBaaS provider, you're guaranteed certain performance levels and uptime, without having to lift a finger for hardware or initial configuration.
When Not to Use DBaaS
Extremely heavy data loads traversing public networks is one way to run into significant database performance problems. Some necessary database functions like data compression and table table partitions may not function in a virtual environment. Be sure to vet your platform of choice and the provider's cloud to be certain your performance and functionality are up to par.
Industry regulations, compliance, or privacy concerns might also lead you to keep some databases on-premise. Many cloud providers do offer HIPAA compliant or FEDRAMP certified hosting now, however. Ultimately compliance and privacy issues might be simply a matter of your comfort (or the comfort of your CEO and board) with trusting data to cloud providers. However, cloud services often include more stringent security than in-house services and are kept more up to date as well.
Finally, if you have office locations that might not be online 24/7 and require access to information stored in your database, DBaaS might not be the best choice.
Who Manages the Database Platform: A Comparison
On-PremiseDBaaS Database Management Your Department
Cloud Provider Licensing
Cloud Provider or
& Fault Tolerance
Cloud Provider Virtualization Platform
Cloud Provider Security:Applications,
and data, including encryption Your Department Your Department Security:Servers,
perimeter network security Your Department Cloud Provider