Database in the clouds

Databases? Off to the cloud!

Optimize application performance and realize significant cost benefits through migration to a cloud database

May 22 2023Nico Herzhauser

The future of the database is in the cloud

Ever-rising licensing costs, extensive in-house management efforts, and limited flexibility – databases dominate corporate IT. However, classic on-premises deployment has many disadvantages. Anyone thinking about cloud computing should start with the numerous advantages cloud databases offer.

Databases – essential but complex

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A database management system (DBMS) is an indispensable component within the IT ecosystem of every company. Almost every IT architecture relies on databases to manage and provide data in a structured manner. However, database selection, use, and maintenance have become increasingly complicated. These complex landscapes have evolved over the years. In addition to classic commercial relational databases from Oracle, IBM, and Microsoft, open-source databases such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, and MariaDB have become a staple of the IT landscape. These are just a small sample of the various types that have appeared in the industry.

Challenging management

For those responsible, this means a constantly growing number of databases (DBs) to manage (often several hundred) of equally increasing diversity. Furthermore, their management in a corporate context is often an end-to-end task from a single source. IT managers not only have to ensure efficient operation – including installation and configuration of software, data backup, security management, optimization, and updates. Hardware management issues are often on the agenda, too: provisioning a SQL server, for instance, as well as storage systems.

Database "as a Service”

Database migration to the cloud significantly relieves such infrastructure management tasks, especially for DB managers. With its "as a service" offering, a cloud database provides a wholly integrated service. These ready-to-use DBs offer significant efficiency gains in day-to-day management.

But replacing an on-premises DB with a cloud database does not necessarily mean a comprehensive cloud transformation project. Transferring databases to the cloud can also be understood as a separate, clearly defined first step to cloud transformation. It does not mean that the re-platforming of DBs should not also be considered part of a broader cloud transformation.

Top in cloud value add

Hardly any other cloud transformation topic can hold a candle to database migration in terms of quickly noticeable added value for companies. Migration to a cloud platform offers an excellent ROI (Return on Investment). Beyond relieving DB staff, there are advantages such as reduced license costs, application performance optimization, better support for open-source DBs, and – last but not least – flexibility and a future-oriented setup.

Reduction of license costs

With the increased use of open-source DBs, companies are making a clear statement: they are trying to free themselves from the shackles of DB vendors. The licensing costs for commercial databases consume a significant portion of IT budgets in many companies. Budgets that cannot be flexibly deployed or used for innovation projects. Replacing commercial DBs with equally powerful open-source variants from the cloud can permanently reduce licensing costs. These savings can quickly run into the millions for large landscapes.

Better support for open-source DBs

Commercial DBs usually come with one significant advantage: dedicated support. On the other hand, open-source products provided by communities are initially "unsupported". IT heads must, therefore, find a support solution for use in a business environment. This need means building appropriate in-house expertise or involving a specialized managed services partner. With a cloud database, the provider assumes basic support for the DB offered. For example, it takes care of security patches and "hardens" the community images for the necessary security businesses require. Scalability is another advantage.  

Optimization of application performance

It’s not only the popular relational DBs that can be replaced by the corresponding open-source relational DB or cloud products such as Amazon Aurora. It is worth considering this: What are the requirements of the application? Then it often becomes apparent that the standard "relational database" is not always the best solution. Switching to a different, purpose-built type, such as a NoSQL database, a document DB, or an in-memory DB, can improve the system architecture and significantly increase performance – benefitting the service users.

AWS offers a wealth of different DBs for specific purposes, e.g., key-value products like Amazon DynamoDB, in-memory databases like Amazon ElastiCache or Amazon MemoryDB for Redis, graph databases (Amazon Neptune), time series databases or the Amazon Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB) service. In addition, the AWS Database Migration Service (DMS) makes it easier to migrate databases to the AWS Cloud.

Flexibility of database service provisioning

In all of this, one key strength of a cloud database has yet to be articulated. It arises directly from the cloud computing model and means that homogeneous DB migration, e.g., from PostgreSQL to Amazon Aurora PostgreSQL, makes sense for companies. Virtualized provisioning makes DB managers independent of the restrictions of physical hardware. A complete cloud database can be provisioned within minutes, e.g., for development environments – and shut down just as quickly. This makes the work of developers and testers much easier.

A cloud database for mission-critical processes

Many companies such as Netflix, Airbnb, and Expedia rely on future-proof setups with a cloud database solution and cloud database services from AWS for business-critical business processes, in which hundreds of petabytes of data are managed and evaluated and made available within a short time. Analyses show that a large proportion – if not all – of existing DBs can be operated in the cloud.

More and more T-Systems customers are evaluating which DBs they can move to the cloud to realize a wealth of benefits. With the Database Migration Assessment Framework T-Systems analyzes your DB landscapes and quantifies optimization potential with a cloud database.

E-book: Cloudify your database landscape

How do you get quicker benefits from a cloud migration? Our e-book describes which potential databases have that.

About the author

Nico Herzhauser

Solutions Architect, T-Systems International GmbH

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