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Considerations when selecting a DBaaS provider

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With digital transformation and technology reliance now being so fundamental to modern business, the emergence of new databases and data management technologies has flourished. New database technologies known as NoSQL, which include the likes of MongoDB and Apache Cassandra have led the emergence of new ways to think about storing and managing data.

With the mind-boggling figures below, you can’t underestimate the growing importance of data in today’s world. By 2020, Digital data generated annually is estimated to be in excess of 44 zettabytes. The technology industry is constantly exploring possibilities of developing new solutions to cater to the burgeoning demand created by a data hungry economy, which in turn has given birth to new technologies to manage data.

  • Google processes over 40,000 search queries each second. That’s 3.5 billion per day
  • Every 1 minute 293,000 statuses are updated on Facebook.
  • 90% of the world’s data was created during the last two years and our current output of data is roughly 2.5 exabytes a day.
  • IDC estimates that worldwide revenues for big data and business analytics will grow from $130.1 billion in 2016 to more than $203 billion in 2020.
  • IBM estimates $3.1 trillion as a yearly cost for poor quality data, in the US alone, in 2016.

DBaaS Providers

Whatever database technology you choose, SQL or NoSQL, one thing for sure is that you should at least consider using a Database-as-a-services (DBaaS) provider for ongoing management and support. The DBaaS model works by providing application developers and solutions owners with freedom from operational database management activities.

DBaaS providers manage and abstract the complexity associated with key metrics of performance and availability. As your application or solution grows, databases and underlying infrastructure has to have the ability to scale efficiently and effectively. However, scaling rapidly and dynamically can be complex and cause significant problems for your application if not performed correctly.

Ultimately DBaaS providers need to be capable of navigating the complexity effectively to deliver the holy grail of reliability, scale and performance. So when making a decision about selecting a DBaaS provider, you should be looking at their track record in being able to deliver these core metrics and importantly, have they delivered these services for your use case or industry previously.

Selection Criteria

Following are some additional criteria that you should consider or look at when selecting a suitable DBaaS provider:

  • Automation. Ensuring that there is reduction in time required to fight with infrastructure and that your provider has enough automation for key tasks such as provisioning and configuration.
  • Expert support. Threats can come up anytime and you need to be ready. Ensuring 24/7 expert support along with defined latency and response time will guarantee peace of mind.
  • Monitoring and alerting. Your provider must have technology and a plan for continually monitoring the health of your database and underlying infrastructure and suitable alerting mechanisms for when things do go wrong.
  • Independent security certification such as SOC 2. While a security breach may tarnish reputation, data loss can also bring significant revenue loss. The first half of 2017 alone has seen a loss of over 1.9 billion records. As per the study by IBM the average consolidated total cost of data breach in 2017 was $2.51 million, though less than 2016 but still quite significant. Thus, look for independent assessments and validations of the security credential as a standard practice.
  • Flexible SLA’s. Make sure the SLA’s you are signing are flexible enough to accommodate your growing demand as well as provide guaranteed delivery of the services listed. Also, beware of any technology lock-in, either with any technology or with the cloud provider. If need be, you may check with some of the existing customers of DBaaS provider to see how they fair on deliveries.
  • Development environment. Awareness of the staging and development environment can help you reduce the technical risks in your deployment. A suitable platform for testing and staging prior to product deployment can surely minimise the risk. Similarly, ensure that the migration to their environment is well planned with suitable contingency plans in place.
  • Data backups and snapshots. A range of configurable options for the backup of datasets to maintain flexibility which also aligns with the customer’s requirement.
  • Total cost of ownership. Before a service provider is locked-in it is important to fully understand the operating costs associated with deploying specific data management solutions. The kind of cost advantage you are getting from the plan of migrating to the DBaaS environment. Everyone has different requirements and prioritising what you need is something that needs to be taken care of at your end.

The bottom line is that if you have selected the right DBaaS provider, then you will be able to mitigate operational risks and reduce costs while managing scale, performance and availability. The right provider will be capable of delivering operational freedom so that you will be able to concentrate on developing your application or solution and concentrating on your customers.

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