According to recent research, Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) is projected to grow at almost 90% year over year, to about $2 billion by 2016. The key drivers, as you might expect, are costs and time saved. From SMBs to multinationals, organizations are moving Oracle databases to the cloud in droves.

Actually, there are two ways to run a database in the cloud: DBaaS and virtual machine images. With DBaaS, you purchase access to a database service from a cloud database provider. (The provider could even host and manage the database for you, which is essentially a managed hosting model.) Virtual machine images are purchased for a specified time and then uploaded to the cloud on a one-off basis.

Proponents of DBaaS say it lets businesses deploy new databases faster and cheaper than on-premise. Depending on your own IT compared with your service provider, you might also potentially get better performance. Many also claim that database security is stronger in the cloud as well—though that, of course, also depends on how your security stacks up against the service provider’s.

According to Javier Puerta, Oracle’s director of core-technology partner programs for EMEA: “DBaaS offers organizations accelerated deployment, elastic capacity, greater consolidation efficiency, higher availability, and lower overall operational cost and complexity.”

Other potential advantages for DBaaS include:

  • Faster provisioning
  • The ability to reduce database sprawl
  • Automated and centralized database management

If your application only requires some simple remote storage and data retrieval, DBaaS might be a slam-dunk. But what if more extensive operations are required? Some of the potential disadvantages of DBaaS include:

  • Security/privacy and compliance concerns—for many organizations, the sensitivity of the data outweighs all other considerations
  • Potential loss of access to data in the event of a disaster or if the service provider goes out of business
  • Bandwidth costs associated with the required Internet connectivity
  • Runaway costs if usage is not well managed
  • Potential for vendor lock-in
  • Contractual concerns common to using service providers generally; e.g., who accepts the risk for compromised data (answer: ultimately you do)

Here’s a typical DBaaS use case: You’ve got lots of databases, each variation of which requires some special care. By moving that data online, you could consolidate all those instances under one service, and even partner with a cloud provider to co-manage them. This offers the potential to eliminate sprawl (or at least slow its rate of growth) on your on-premise servers. But you could still end up with “virtual sprawl” and drive up your DBaaS costs.

There’s no question that DBaaS offers compelling benefits for many organizations. But don’t just start making databases in the cloud somewhere without doing your due diligence.

Wherever your data resides, it still needs to be patched and upgraded, monitored, backed up and secured. Your data is your company’s most important asset, and there’s no such thing as a free lunch when it comes to Oracle database administration.

In future posts I’ll discuss some key concerns regarding DBaaS, and when to “proceed with caution.” I’ll also review alternatives to DBaaS, including a “private cloud” with multi-tenancy based on Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c. 

To talk over the implications of DBaaS for your Oracle databases, contact Buda Consulting. Concerned about data security? Sign up for a database security audit.