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What Is Database as a Service (DBaaS)?

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Instead of installing a database solution and hosting hardware to support it, database as a service (DBaaS) hosts all the necessary database functions without any administration overhead. With DBaaS, administrators spin up database services for their favorite engine and can have a database ready for any application within minutes—no installation or hardware setup necessary.

What Is DBaaS?

Database as a service (DBaaS) is a managed service offering in which access to a database is provided over the internet via a subscription. The service provider handles the installation, management, and configuration of the database, as well as the physical hardware needed to host it, relieving those responsibilities from the subscriber. 

Subscription-based products and services make it easier and more affordable for businesses to access complex technology including DBaaS. Using DBaaS, businesses can use any database engine to store and host data for their applications. DBaaS is common for testing applications or experimenting with a new database engine for a new software product. Most administrators use DBaaS for high-traffic applications that need fast performance but don’t have the resources to host it in-house.

What Is DBaaS in Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing introduces several “as-a-service” products for businesses. DBaaS is one of the many types of offerings. Just like other cloud computing products, DBaaS makes it more convenient, cost-effective, and quicker to host a database engine available from the cloud provider.

Platform as a service (PaaS) is a similar product, but PaaS is a full environment of applications in the cloud with a database backend. DBaaS is just the database portion of an application, but it can be a part of a PaaS system. A PaaS solution is a complex collection of services, while DBaaS is a single database engine used for any application on a frontend.

Some businesses prefer to use different cloud providers for their applications and databases, and it’s possible with DBaaS. The DBaaS solution must be configured to allow applications to access data and disallow public and unauthorized user access. While it’s usually more convenient to have the same provider for both frontend and backend services, another provider can be used for failover in case of primary provider downtime.

Benefits of DBaaS

Aside from convenience and cost efficiency, DBaaS has other benefits. Cloud providers offer automatic backup services so that all data is automatically backed up and stored securely in the cloud. Backups are essential for disaster recovery and business continuity. Having automatic backups reduces overhead for administrators and ensures that recovery is possible in case of database failure.

The cloud offers scalability that can’t be found when hosting on premises. Storage and performance are two benefits, and any additional resources can be scaled automatically or manually. Administrators can scale up with the click of a button on a central dashboard without the common overhead associated with on-premises hosting.

Compliance regulations require businesses to apply proper access controls for database access, and DBaaS makes it more convenient and easier for administrators to ensure compliance across the database environment. Administrators can give users access to only the data necessary for their job function, and only a limited number of administrators should have access to configure the database. The way data is stored also falls under compliance regulations for data protection and consumer privacy. Your cloud provider should have the configurations you need to stay compliant.

What Are the Disadvantages of Database as a Service?

Although DBaaS has mostly benefits, it comes with a few disadvantages. Because it’s hosted in the cloud, your business is limited to configurations provided through cloud dashboards and services. All hardware and software is hosted in the cloud, so administrators cannot manage the physical server.

The cloud offers better availability, but cloud providers occasionally experience outages. When the cloud provider fails, the business application suffers downtime, and you must wait for the provider’s administrators to fix the issue. Costs to host cloud services can be higher or lower, depending on the volume of data and traffic. Also, in the event the administrator misconfigures the database, it could be mistakenly opened to the public where sensitive data can be stolen.

Popular Cloud DBaaS Providers

Several popular cloud providers offer DBaaS and other “as-a-service” products. Popular DBaaS providers include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Most providers offer several popular database engines, but you’ll want to find the right provider that offers the best UI, cost, and any other applications necessary to run your business systems.

Open Source DBaaS Providers

Businesses have several database providers to choose from, but three stand out as popular open source database providers. These three providers offer unique advantages depending on your application:

  • MongoDB: A NoSQL, non-relational platform that works with document-based storage

  • Apache Cassandra: A distributed NoSQL, non-relational database for large-scale global applications

  • Redis Labs: A NoSQL and non-relational database that’s mainly used for analytics

Free DBaaS Providers

Whether it’s for an MVP or a test project, free DBaaS providers are cost-effective options. With some good engineering, you can switch database providers from free to open source after development and testing. Here are a few good free DBaaS platforms:

  • Firebase: Firebase is a Google cloud-based NoSQL database beneficial for real-time applications.

  • MongoDB: Free and open source, this NoSQL document-based engine is good for JSON input and output.

  • Oracle Free Tier: Oracle provides enterprise-level database services, but it also offers a free DBaaS service for small applications.

Conclusion

DBaaS is an affordable, fast, and convenient option for hosting databases for your applications. It’s a great way to install a specific database engine for critical applications that could be much more expensive and require extensive administrator overhead if hosted on premises. There are several engines to choose from, but make sure the cloud provider you select has the database platform that you want to use with your applications. DBaaS has the advantage of being easier to manage, scaling with the growth of your business, and keeping your business compliant with security requirements. 

Looking for a true, as-a-service model that’s simple to manage and always evergreen? Pure Storage offers a number of solutions for popular database technologies, including Oracle, Microsoft, and open source databases.

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