Databases have always been an important but unsung aspect of business technology. Too technical for most people to understand, databases are usually discussed only in the most technical IT department meetings.

“In the digital era, cloud databases are the backbone of innovation, offering unparalleled scalability and agility.” ~Jeremy Wanamaker, CEO of Complete Network

Here, we’ll explore everything you need to know about hosting your database in the cloud, including the advantages and disadvantages of cloud databases. We’ll also provide insight into the different options and a few popular real-world use cases to help you understand how they benefit your business.

By the end, you’ll have a firm grasp of what a cloud database is and the benefits it offers, and you’ll be able to make informed decisions regarding which path your organization should consider pursuing.


Demystifying Cloud Databases: A Primer

The rise of early computers in the 1950s sparked a wave of interest in the field of database research.

By the 1960s, reliable machines and magnetic disks enabled so-called navigational databases to exist. However, it didn’t take long to realize that navigational data structures had limited potential.

In the 1970s, a new form of relational database system (RDBMS) emerged. Rather than navigating through data hierarchies, relational databases use a Structured Query Language (SQL) to interact with records sorted in isolated tables, columns, and rows.

These relational designs quickly became the new standard for organizations that needed modern database systems. Popular RDBMS models include Oracle, and Microsoft SQL Server, which completely dominated the 1970s through to the early 2000s.

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What is a Cloud Database?

Cloud databases are database systems hosted in the cloud, as opposed to onsite servers. One of the defining features of cloud databases is their flexibility. They can be configured and managed by the users themselves (offering greater control and customization) or managed by the cloud provider via managed database-as-a-services (DBaaS).

From a company’s point of view, cloud databases function exactly like traditional databases with the added advantages of the cloud. Most providers support a wide range of database options, spanning from the familiar systems we all know to specialized, cloud-native varieties. Popular examples include:

Relational databases: MySQL, PostgreSQL, and MariaDB.

NoSQL databases: MongoDB, CouchDB, Cassandra, Redis

NewSQL databases: Trafodion, NuoDB, Clustrix

Cloud-native databases: Amazon’s Aurora, ElastiCache, Neptune; Google’s Cloud SQL, BigQuery, Firestore; and Microsoft’s Azure SQL, Cosmos DB.


The Core Benefits of Cloud Databases

You may be wondering if cloud databases are essentially traditional databases. Why should your company go through the complicated pains of migrating over to a new platform? Let’s look at the benefits of cloud databases versus legacy database systems.

Frees the Way for Innovation
Legacy databases, while reliable, struggle to keep up with the fast pace of digital transformation.

In contrast, cloud database solutions allow close integration with new services, including serverless computing, big data analytics, containers, and machine learning.

Increased Flexibility
The increase in BYOD and work-from-home policies has put an added strain on legacy database systems. Instead of expanding data centers and networks, organizations use cloud databases to scale their databases and remain responsive to evolving user needs while also lowering operational complexity.

Database Type Pros Cons Best for
Relational (SQL) Structured data, ACID compliance Not scalable horizontally Traditional applications
NoSQL Scalable, flexible schema Less mature, no ACID guarantee Big data, real-time analytics
NewSQL Scalable, ACID compliant Complex, may be expensive Companies needing scalability without sacrificing transaction integrity
Cloud-native Fully managed, scalable Vendor lock-in potential Modern, cloud-centric applications


Reduce Cost
Cloud database services operate on a pay-as-you-go model, where you pay only for the resources you use. This cost structure is especially beneficial for budget-constrained small businesses or companies with fluctuating workloads.

Managed Services
Fully managed cloud database services offer numerous advantages over onsite arrangements by offloading routine maintenance, security, and upgrades to your service provider. Not only does this simplify database management, but it also frees your IT team to concentrate on more strategic and value-added tasks.


Real-World Applications: Cloud Databases in Action

The volume of data generated by modern organizations has grown exponentially over the past decade. In addition to more data, there are new data types and processing methodologies that are fast replacing the old standards.

Here, we explore four real-world use cases in which cloud databases are more attractive than legacy options.

Discover even more about the cloud with our expert resources:


Risk Mitigation
Cloud databases empower businesses to benefit from the advanced disaster recovery tools to protect their data, maintain business continuity, and minimize the impact of potential downtime. Cross-cloud and cross-region data replication, scalability, and automated backup features make cloud databases a great choice for businesses seeking to safeguard their data assets from hacks, outages, system failures, or other disasters.

Speed IoT Adoption

Your legacy database systems weren’t designed to handle real-time data processing and big data analysis of disparate IoT devices spread across your business. Cloud databases, on the other hand, support neat integration with various IoT services and analytics tools, turning IoT data into more valuable and actionable insights.

Machine Learning
Besides big tech enterprises, very few organizations can afford to do machine learning on-premises. Training and serving cutting-edge models require more computing, storage, and specialized talent than most businesses can afford. Choosing a cloud database makes it orders of magnitude simpler and cheaper to develop successful ML applications for your company.


Making the Transition: Tips for Migrating to a Cloud Database

Successful database migration requires meticulous planning, testing, and continuous monitoring. We typically advise our clients to start by deeply researching the two leading migration strategies (Big Bang and Trickel) before deciding which approach is best for their organization.

Big Bang Migration Strategy

The “Big Bang” approach is chosen for its simplicity, as it condenses the migration process into a single, well-orchestrated event. However, this method does require some amount of downtime, which can be undesirable for organizations that operate systems around the clock.

Trickle Migration Strategy

The “Trickle” migration approach attempts to eliminate downtime and minimal disruption to regular business operations. However, this method is a more complex and resource-intensive process than Big Bang due to its incremental nature.


Why Do Database Migrations Fail?

Poor planning and flawed execution are the primary reasons why database migrations fail. What appears on the surface as a straightforward procedure often unveils levels of complexity that challenge even the most experienced IT teams.

Other common reasons why legacy-to-cloud database migrations fail are:

  • Underestimating the costs associated with the migration
  • Lack of well-defined objectives and expectations
  • Problems with migration tools or vendor lock-in
  • Inadequate or incomplete testing
  • Failure to comply with data protection regulations, leading to regulatory consequences

Legacy-to-cloud database migrations are one of the most complex digital transformations an organization can undertake.

For this reason, it’s highly advisable that companies considering such a move reach out to a database migration partner. A qualified partner can assist in designing a tailored strategy that follows best practices, guarantees database integrity, and avoids unintended disruptions.


Advantages of Cloud Database


Cloud Database Consulting and Support

Complete Network is your trusted cloud computing partner and can help your business unlock its full potential.

Our cloud consultants are skilled at working with businesses of all sizes to design tailor-made, secure cloud migration strategies that suit your individual goals and needs.

Contact the friendly Complete Network team any time for more information.

How To Supplement Your Internal IT Team.

In an ideal world, technology would be a consistent source of competitive advantage and benefit for small and midsized businesses. The reality is that many fail to realize that confidence.

Without the right resources and support, even a highly skilled technology team can become overwhelmed by the growing list of technology management duties. When important tasks get neglected, it creates ripple effects throughout an organization that damage productivity and efficiency.

The co-managed IT services model solves these problems by providing your existing IT team with all the support and resources they need to successfully plan, manage, and defend your network technology.

This guide covers:

  • • Aligning technology with business goals
  • • Reducing churn while preserving institutional knowledge
  • • Empowering your staff to maximize productivity
  • • Achieving the highest level of cybersecurity defense

Download it for free by filling out the form here.