Data Gravity


Does data have gravity? And will it affect DBAs' jobs?

Many of us have worked with distributed applications at this point in our careers, with different parts of the application located on different physical servers. Some of us might have worked with applications that actually have different servers in different locations, potentially even different countries. That can be challenging, dealing with different time zones, different collations and regional settings on servers and more.

While many of us are not looking to implement cloud computing now, we may do so in the future, but not for simple cost reasons. There’s a piece about data gravity in the cloud, and how the law can drive the location of data in some cases. Just as many companies that wanted to offer gambling services moved to countries with fewer laws about that business, I would expect that we see some companies moving pieces and parts of their data to other countries to take advantage of more lax or lenient privacy or other laws in the future.

Most companies won’t bother trying to avoid laws like this right now, but at some point in the future, the cost of moving an application to another country might be tiny. We constantly build better tools for distributed development, deployment, and management, and whether it’s a cloud infrastructure, or just a rented VM, we may find that it becomes worthwhile in some cases to move data, not just for cost reasons, but potentially to reduce the costs of compliance with local laws.

It’s hard to know whether compliance with the law will ever significantly affect the work a DBA does, but I certainly expect that we will have distributed applications with their various components more widely distributed to challenge us in the future.

Steve Jones

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