Cloud database system attributes becoming clearer

Published: Friday, June 1, 2012

The rise of cloud computing has been rapid and challenging for businesses to deal with. The technology represents a major shift in how companies operate and requires them to implement solutions that are disruptive in nature if they wish to unleash the full operational gains that come with the cloud. This is especially clear in the database sector, where cloud computing is rapidly becoming more prominent. As a result, the scope of what it means to use a cloud database is starting to become clearer, according to a recent Computer Technology Review report.

Whether data is in a database or not, more of it will be kept in the cloud in the near future. Citing a recent IDC study, the news source explained that only a small amount of data is currently either processed or stored in the cloud. However, by 2015, approximately 20 percent of all data will be touched by the cloud in some way. This is leading to more innovation in cloud database systems. However, the definition of what a cloud database actually is has become somewhat unclear.

The only true consensus when it comes to cloud database systems is a definition of what is not a cloud database. The report said the vast majority of experts now agree that a single relational database management system and plugging it into the cloud does not create a full-fledged cloud database. It may use cloud technology, but is not truly a cloud database. While little is completely clear beyond this point, there are a few attributes of a cloud database that have become fairly well accepted.

Transparency when it comes to elasticity and scalability is one critical attribute of a cloud database, the news source said. Being able to scale data capacity upwards and downward at any moment, based on changes in demand, is key to any cloud database system. However, this needs to be accomplished with a layer of transparency that allows the shift in scale to take hold without having an impact on the foundational application.

Location independence is also a key attribute of databases that can rightfully be defined as cloud DBs, the report explained. The ability to ensure that data will be available to users anywhere in the world, as long as they have a connection to the internet, is a vital attribute of cloud databases and key to ensuring that the technology is being used to its full potential.

Companies considering using the cloud for databases also need to consider the capacity for continuous availability. The news source described this attribute by explaining that it means data resources will not be unavailable at any time unless users want to shut the system down or plan the outage for maintenance purposes.

Cloud computing is uniquely suited to completing this goal, as the technology essentially separates the application from the physical server, allowing for free movement to various machines within the computing cluster. As a result, organizations can be more assured of constant uptime because server failure and similar issues will not bring the cloud down, only force it to move to a different device.

According to the report, management simplicity and cost efficiency are also key attributes of any cloud database.

Flexibility is a clear theme when it comes to cloud databases. Because of this, it can be difficult to align proprietary DB systems with the cloud. As a result, open source database solutions are often the ideal match when entering the cloud, as open source software offers organizations access to more custom and elastic DB systems that can be optimally aligned with the cloud computing setup.