DBaaS (Database as a Service): databases in the cloud

More and more software providers are storing their database technology in the cloud. Proof that trend is not temporary. A change in modern IT systems that is as sustainable as it is trendsetting is also demonstrated by the ever-increasing spread of Infrastructure as a Service as well as Platform as a Service solutions. The latter area also includes Database as a Service (DBaaS).

What is DBaaS?

DBaaS is short for ‘Database as a Service’ and refers to the possibility of obtaining one or more database systems via the cloud of a corresponding service provider. Using the database as an external service offering has the advantage that personnel and technical capacities can be saved in your own company. Databases – often based on MySQL or Oracle – are indispensable in almost every company because they are used, among other things, for email servers, customer data, big data archives, or other forms of ordered as well as unordered collections of data.

Definition

DBaaS: Database as a Service means that companies no longer have their own IT staff maintain and operate the relational or non-relational databases they need for their daily work via their own IT infrastructure, but instead have them provided via a cloud. A secure network connection ensures that all employees and programs always have access to all relevant information.

In addition to complete outsourcing of databases to the provider’s cloud, it’s also possible to use DBaaS as a hybrid solution. This makes sense especially if companies don’t want to fully commit to a cloud-based network solution for IT security reasons. But even if companies continue to operate their own database servers and only use an SQL implementation serving as a cloud interface, this can already relieve the existing IT infrastructure.

How does DBaaS work?

The way Database as a Service works is very simple. Depending on the agreement reached in the service contract, a cloud provider is obliged to provide storage space for a certain number of databases and to enable the corresponding accesses. Billing in the form of a usage-based rate is possible. Alternatively, companies can simply rent server resources from the provider to implement a database there themselves.

Companies using DBaaS can fully rely on the provider in terms of the installation and provision of the databases as well as the technical care and maintenance of the systems, as this is part of the service contract. In addition to providing purely technical support, many DBaaS providers offer further convenience functions, such as comprehensive monitoring of the databases or regular automatic backups of the stored data to keep data loss as low as possible in the event of a possible failure.

Users of Database as a Service also benefit from the technical expertise of the provider’s employees, usually have a fixed contact person, and no longer have to worry about updating their own database systems. Access to the data records can also be evaluated and recorded regularly if desired.

What is DBaaS used for?

Put simply, Database as a Service is suitable for anyone who wants to operate a database but doesn’t want to or cannot provide the infrastructure and the personnel for this themselves. The DBaaS approach also makes sense for those who sometimes have concerns about the security of their data, since the providers can provide professional IT experts to take care of cloud computing. In addition, hybrid solutions are possible, in which the data remains largely stored in the local network infrastructure and a connection to the cloud is only established through an SQL plug in.

Furthermore, the Database as a Service approach – just like Platform as a Service as well as Infrastructure as a Service – creates a certain degree of flexibility, because the provider can set up the ideal framework that is required by a company to meet its needs at a given time. If rates are flexible, you can react quickly to new situations with clearly communicated costs instead of having to laboriously upgrade your own IT.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of DBaaS?

If a company decides to use the Database as a Service solution, it comes with many advantages. The most obvious advantage is that costs are saved, because companies no longer need to have the technical requirements in place for operating a database, nor do they need the corresponding specialist staff. In addition, any incoming database queries do not have to be processed via internal servers, which won’t have any effect on your wallet.

Once a decision has been made in favor of a service provider, the administrative effort required to maintain the database is minimal. One of the key benefits of Database as a Service is that the provider takes care of the proper functioning of the database, installs it, maintains it, and provides it with updates. In addition, the provider’s employees respond to current security issues and protect valuable data from possible misuse by third parties.

Another advantage of DBaaS is that customers can evaluate access provided, for example, to various reports. This makes it possible to react agilely and flexibly to new situations. Since the providers’ data centres usually meet the highest standards and always have contingency plans in place in case of any failures, reliability is also a major advantage of cloud-based database processing. This also includes the automatic creation and retention of regular backups.

Of course there are also disadvantages to Database as a Service, although these are not as significant. If the data centre is located further away, there may be minimally increased loading times. When concluding a contract with the DBaaS provider, close attention should therefore be paid to the location of the data centre – also for reasons of data protection and compliance guidelines applicable at the location.

Another disadvantage could be that the databases outsourced to the cloud are temporarily unavailable. However, due to redundancy and the high security in data centres this is actually much less likely than when companies maintain their databases in-house.

If you want to test the model first and/or have very sensitive data, you can try the hybrid solution first. In this way, your company will benefit from a large number of the advantages mentioned, but retains some of the processing in its own IT department.

Advantages Disadvantages
Reduced costs in terms of personnel and technology Data is stored outside of the company
Reduced administrative effort Data centres can temporarily be unavailable
Extensive reporting Data protection and compliance guidelines depend on the location of the data centre
High-performance data centres  
Hybrid solutions for sensitive data  

Which DBaaS providers are out there?

There are many providers of Database as a Service to choose from. The difference between what they offer is often just in the details and in their price ranges. Here is a quick selection:

  • Amazon AWS
  • Google
  • Microsoft Azure
  • MongoDB Atlas
  • Oracle Cloud

In any case, it’s a good idea to learn more about the respective framework conditions and the infrastructure used before signing a contract. Set up a conversation with the customer service of the service provider in question, so that you can ensure that your individual requirements are addressed.


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