Those businesses that store data in the cloud typically use primitive file storage systems rather than databases. However, these days many cloud computing platforms are adding or enhancing their database offerings, thus becoming more compelling to enterprises.
For example, Google now offers a relational database for its cloud-hosted App Engine application development and a hosting platform called Google Cloud SQL -- in short, MySQL in the cloud. Both Oracle and Microsoft have their own cloud-based database offerings. Amazon Web Services offers Relational Database Service (RDS), as well as other popular databases in its IaaS product.
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Of course, a fraction of enterprise data already exists in public clouds, so why will 2013 be the year of migration to cloud-hosted database systems? There are two core reasons for the migration and a simpler reason for the 2013 timeframe.
The first and most critical reason for the migration is that data in most enterprises is a huge mess. For years, databases have been built around applications or some tactical need, creating hundreds or even thousands of data silos that are difficult to integrate or to even provide a common view of business information. The advantage of migrating some data to cloud-based databases is around the cost and ease of doing so. Thus, you can spin up terabytes of operational data stores without having huge software and hardware costs appearing on budgets and causing concern in the CFO's office or, worse, the boardroom.
The second reason is performance. Databases in enterprises often don't provide data in a timely manner to support those running the business. Queries that should take 10 or 15 minutes instead take hours. Moreover, in many instances, the data is erroneous. Cloud-based databases, if engineered correctly, typically provide much better performance than traditional on-premise systems. This is due to the fact that they can gather up as many processor instances as required to complete the database processing quickly.
No, cloud-delivered databases won't save you. Indeed, they could complicate matters if you're not careful. However, the ease of provisioning, cost advantage, and better performance mean that they are the best value when it comes to database processing.
Given all the positives, do I believe the migration timeframe is 2013? As in all things, there is a ramp-up period. Now that commercial options are available from several vendors, we'll start getting toes-in-the-water efforts in 2012, then see the big wave of implementations in 2013.
This article, "Why 2013 will be the year of the cloud database," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.