Cloud vs. Traditional databases: What’s best for your business?

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databasesWhen setting up the technology environment for internal applications, the database administrator has three choices: use a cloud computing database server, host the services in-house or use a dedicated database hosting provider. So, which is best?

There are pros and cons to using cloud database servers, but they are generally a more finely-tuned solution than hosting a server in-house. Cloud hosting providers take all of the more tedious maintenance out of the hands of the DBA, so the administrator can focus on the design and development of any dynamic cloud applications.

Support and Maintenance

Support and maintenance are two of the most important procedures when managing a database server. These two tasks can take up much of the DBA’s time. So moving the database to the cloud frees up much of the DBA’s time. The DBA still needs to manage some of the processes, such as setting up backup times, and transformation jobs or data manipulation procedures, though. These are specific to the business, so the cloud host can only assist.

Anyone who has ever managed a database knows that it’s a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week job. DBAs can always expect a late-night support phone call especially when the business hosts an online ecommerce site. This task is handled by the cloud host support team when its in the public cloud, so much of the hassle is taken out of the DBA’s hands and placed in the cloud host’s support team.

Security

Security is a delicate task, and if it’s done even the slightest bit wrong, it can mean theft of corporate data or corruption of database tables. Security is best left to the experts, because one breach can mean the customer data is left in the hand of a nefarious hacker. This doesn’t mean the DBA does not play a small part in security. The DBA can also monitor traffic to the database server and receive alerts if any strange traffic is detected. Additionally, the DBA can create user accounts and object-level security on the database objects to secure the server. The cloud host controls the global Internet traffic to the database, but the DBA must maintain the granular level security on the data itself.

Performance

Compared to in-house hosting, a cloud host can take away much of the more tedious work. With in-house servers, the database is constantly changing and constantly needs supervision. Performance is another common issue with in-house servers. If the database procedures and network connectivity is not tuned properly, the database can become the major bottleneck. With cloud hosting, the database is hosted in a data center, so processes are pooled together from multiple servers. Larger data centers are more advantageous for the larger business that must return several thousands of rows.

Although the DBA has more control over an in-house database server, performance, maintenance and security are greatly enhanced when database resources are hosted in the cloud. And these advantages are at a fraction of the cost compared to purchasing in-house hardware.

Jennifer Marsh is a software developer, programmer and technology writer and occasionally blogs for open cloud company Rackspace Hosting.

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