By Prabhakar Jayakumar, Country Director, DigitalOcean India
Today’s app economy is driven by the power of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), mixed reality, and digital twins. But these technologies need the support of seamless data management practices to deliver next-gen experiences. Achieving the right balance between data and cutting-edge technologies is crucial for an enterprise’s success.
This is where many small and medium-sized businesses face challenges. While they innovate with disruptive technologies, on the one hand, they also need to store and process data as per world-class standards. However, creating databases that support new market needs is not easy. Administrators find it challenging to set up and manage databases that deliver high security, scalability, high performance, minimal latencies, and compliance with increasing regulations like GDPR. This is where Database administrators (DBAs) and the C-suite can rely on commercial database providers, who take away the troubles of managing databases end-to-end.
Why managed databases?
In the pre-cloud computing era, organizations relied on cumbersome on-premises databases that required tremendous time and financial investment for the maintenance of necessary hardware, which in turn required talent that was hard to find. Cloud computing has eased some of these challenges to a large extent.
However, in-house cloud-based data management still requires considerable time and expertise from businesses to tailor databases to their specific needs. Small to medium-sized enterprises often find it difficult to make these investments.
Thanks to commercial database providers that offer managed databases, the ease of cloud-based database management has been driven up a notch. A recent Gartner research states that the overall Database management services (DBMS) market grew at 18.4% from 2017 to 2018.1
We recently launched our managed databases offering, a fully managed and feature-rich database service that promises worry-free database hosting services to our clients and enables them to focus on innovation.
How to make the right managed database choice
In a nutshell, managed databases relieve database analysts from having to monitor every aspect of a database through their end-to-end data management services. Essentially, cloud service providers offer enterprises with access to a database which is then managed by the provider itself. Consider some of the benefits of using such a service:
Setting up a self-managed database can be a hugely cumbersome exercise. Developers first need to obtain a server, connect to it from a client or a terminal, configure and secure, install a database management software, and only then begin to store data. With managed databases, developers build their applications on top of an existing cloud database service. Prior to this, they only need to decide the initial size of the server and configure any additional options. This significantly speeds up the entire process.
Data migration has traditionally been accompanied by challenges like high cost, data and app portability, business continuity, and data integrity and security. Managed databases automate the migration process, thus eliminating the need for specialized human effort and the high cost that it demands.
Near-real-time data processing
This is particularly useful for applications that require real-time access to data like stock market changes and sports scores. Some managed databases directly store this data in memory, thus being able to provide updates within milliseconds and microseconds. This is particularly useful for industries like accounting, retail, law, multimedia, and scientific research.
Seamless handling of different data formats
Data exists in a range of formats including structured and unstructured. Databases must be able to process both of them, including text-based data and formats like audio and video.
Frequent data backups
With data expanding every second, it is important for each detail to be securely stored. But it can be difficult for database analysts to manually back up data periodically. Managed databases make this task easier by updating data automatically. This in turn significantly cuts down on backup costs.
The ability for managed databases to run in the developer’s private network, meaning that data does not travel beyond the team, could also be one of the criteria for selecting a managed database offering. Information from outside this network can only reach the developer’s database if the source is specifically whitelisted. Additionally, the data always remains encrypted.
Apart from being time and resource-consuming, another downside of managing a database independently is that developers are fully responsible for ensuring zero data loss. However, a managed database service can help scale a database cluster by enabling the provision of more resources on demand. This way, developers avoid using unnecessary resources and paying for what they don’t need.
In my experience, top-performing managed databases offer all of this and more, including integrated insights and alerting that allow developers to size, scale, and tune their databases more efficiently, while also offering world-class support. Managed databases have plugged several holes that were left during the transition from legacy databases to cloud databases. But enterprises must just be sure to have a detailed understanding of their database requirements before seeking out managed database providers. Relieved from the burden of database administration, they can now focus their attention on what they do best – drive innovation.