The Clear Cloudy Future of Databases

One of the things I’ve advocated across the last few years is the need to learn more about the cloud and be aware of the database options. I have written many pieces, including asking the question of whether or not you should be thinking cloud first. More and more companies are thinking that way, as you can see in the revenue growth from Azure, AWS, and GCP. This is a trend that is continuing to grow and I doubt it will stop anytime soon. I see many management and technical people more interested in the cloud than worried about it, and the numbers of adopters continue to grow.

Gartner is a source that many organizations use to try and plan for trends in the world. With much of our choices sometimes impacted by technology media, plenty of managers look at their reports. One of Gartner’s latest reports is worth reading the short blog summary: The future of database management systems is the cloud. In this blog, Donald Feinburg summarize their report that the cloud is first, it’s the future, and that only legacy requirements should keep you on-premises. I tend to think that as well, though I think your investment in an existing platform is reason enough to stick with it for now. I also think that very predictable workloads, without any large spikes, are likely worth keeping in house.

One neat thing is the market share trends of various platforms from 2011-2019. Microsoft comes in at #3 to start, but comfortably in #2 for the last few years. If you look closely, you’ll see AWS has grown to take the third spot from IBM, and Google is growing rapidly for a platform with the fewest years of availability. Looking at some of the others, I see downward trends from a number of on-premise vendors.

The cloud offers amazing flexibility in both cost and performance. If you’ve looked at any of the cloud database platform vendors, they offer great scaling options for those times when things run fast  or slow. We have a customer at Redgate that actually scaled up their Azure SQL Database for a few hours to meet a workload jump. Going from tens or hundreds of dollars per hour to thousands isn’t for the weak of heart, but if it’s just a few hours and you scale down, that’s the flexibility that isn’t available on premise. At the same time, scaling down when you were overly optimistic about a workload can save a lot of money.

Whether you like the cloud or not, it’s permeating many organizations, and it’s a skill set you should spend time learning. After all, even if this employer isn’t interested, there’s a good chance that the next one will be.

Steve Jones

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