August 15, 2023

What is Database as a Service (DBaaS)?

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Database as a service (DBaaS) is a cloud-based offering that provides users with access to a database without having to worry about setting up, configuring, and maintaining the underlying infrastructure. In a DBaaS model, the cloud provider manages the hardware, software, and networking components needed to run the database. The user simply interacts with the database over the internet or other secure digital connection.

With more and more businesses migrating their databases to the cloud, DBaaS has become all the more critical as a database design choice. Databases that are highly automated allow for a much smoother transition to DBaaS. As soon as database deployment automation is in place, DBAs can easily manage their identical cloud and on-prem databases during the migration transition period. Keeping both databases in sync throughout new releases makes the workflow simpler and ensures a smooth migration once the on-prem database is deactivated.

Relational database as a service

There are many different DBaaS offerings, each with their own suites of platforms and tools, many of which deal with relational data. So what is relational data? Relational data refers to data that is organized into related tables and is a hallmark of relational databases. Examples of relational DBaaS platforms include Amazon Web Services (AWS) RDS, Microsoft Azure Database, Google Cloud SQL, and Heroku Postgres (which are among the many supported by Liquibase).

As opposed to a non-relational database, relational databases store data in tables with a well-defined structure, where each table has a set of rows and columns. The relationships between tables are established through foreign keys, and data is retrieved using Structured Query Language (SQL). The structure of a relational database is defined in a schema, which determines the types of data that can be stored in the database and the relationships between different tables.

Relational database as a service, by extension, is a cloud-based service that provides users with access to a relational database. This model provides several benefits over traditional, on-premise relational database deployment. For example, it typically involves lower costs, faster deployment times, automatic updates, scalability, and high availability. It frees up time and resources that users can devote to more important tasks.

Database as a service examples

There are a number of reasons why a company might wish to adopt or transition to a DBaaS model. The following database as a service examples illustrate some scenarios in which it would make sense for organizations in various industries to make that leap.

A small e-commerce company is experiencing rapid growth and needs to scale its database quickly to accommodate its expanding customer base. By transitioning to a DBaaS model, the company can take advantage of the scalability and reliability offered by a cloud provider without having to worry about infrastructure management. This will allow the company to focus on its core business and keep pace with its growing customer base.

A healthcare provider is looking to improve its data management processes and reduce costs. A DBaaS model offers high availability and security features, reducing the risk of a data breach. This model ultimately enables the provider to focus on delivering high-quality care to its patients and improve the efficiency of its data management processes.

A financial services firm wants to simplify its workflow and cut costs. By adopting a DBaaS model, the firm increases scalability and reliability, which allows it to focus on its core business. Additionally, by outsourcing database management to a DBaaS provider, the firm can free up its IT resources to focus on more strategic initiatives, such as developing new financial service offerings.

Monitoring as a service in cloud computing is another great option for organizations that rely heavily on cloud-based systems and need to ensure that their applications and services are always available and performing optimally. It is especially helpful for large enterprises, companies with stringent security requirements, and companies with rapidly growing cloud deployments.

Database as a service pros and cons

DBaaS options have appealing benefits for IT teams seeking flexible, efficient, and maintained databases without the internal lift. Marquee benefits include:

  • Ease of setup and scalability: With just a few clicks, users can set up databases to suit their needs and expand them when the need arises, with no need for internal database architects.
  • Managed maintenance: DBaaS providers handle updates, patches, backups, and security so you get optimal performance and protection without having to worry about maintenance internally.
  • Cost: DBaaS is substantially cheaper than setting up an on-prem database, eliminating the hurdles of upfront costs often faced by smaller companies.
  • Accessibility: As a cloud environment, DBaaS databases remain available no matter the user’s physical location, as long as they can access the internet or other required data connection.
  • Advanced security: DBaaS providers typically stay at the cutting edge of database security, so companies benefit from strong protocols, encryption, access control, and data safeguards, as well as unique compliance checks.
  • Lifecycle automation: Many DBaaS options allow for automation of provisioning, configuring, and decommission so they can be managed with repeatable, hands-off consistency.

Although DBaaS offers numerous benefits, including efficiency and decreased operating costs, it’s not without its downsides. One of the drawbacks of using DBaaS is that you’re often forced to relinquish a certain amount of control — you no longer have immediate access to your physical services or data in the event of a lapse in service. Data, workflows, and software architectures can also present challenges, which we dive into here.

By weighing database as a service advantages and disadvantages, you can make an informed decision about whether it is the right choice for your organization. It’s also important to carefully research database as a service providers. When you are storing sensitive and confidential data in a database, security is a critical concern. For this reason, you want to make sure that your DBaaS provider of choice has robust security measures in place to protect your data from unauthorized access and breaches.

Database services companies

There’s a lot to consider when choosing a DBaaS provider. While browsing a database services list can give you a better idea of your options, it doesn’t paint the full picture. You will most likely need to conduct more in-depth research to determine which provider is best suited to meet your needs.

For example, if you want a data service group that does not use the traditional table-based structure of RDBMSs and instead stores data in a variety of ways, you might look specifically into NoSQL databases. These include MongoDB, Cassandra, and Redis. Likewise, if you require a data services team that stores data in columns rather than rows, which can make them more efficient for certain types of data analysis and processing, you might consider columnar database services like Amazon SimpleDB.

Liquibase’s solutions deliver the automation capabilities companies need to remove database deployments as a barrier to delivering new application innovation. The platform’s database CI/CD solution helps users achieve end-to-end CI/CD implementation. Liquibase makes it possible for users to create triggers that update databases automatically by pointing to the changelog file. From that point, it becomes easy to integrate the process into their wider CI/CD process.

DBaaS for microservices

Microservices represent an alternative approach to software development. In this format,  software solutions take the form of a collection of smaller, independent services that work together and communicate via APIs. Each service is separate and isolated from the others so it can be updated individually. Microservices architectures do an excellent job facilitating the scaling and development of applications and are now driving innovation.

DBaaS makes a lot of sense for microservices since they can provide flexible and scalable data storage solutions that can interact with the app’s APIs easily. For instance, when a microservice’s usage spikes, DBaaS can dynamically scale to support the activity. They can also support dynamic resource optimization – separate APIs can be fine-tuned and database tasks remain separate for better overall system efficiency.

Microservices also benefit from the isolation capabilities of DBaaS. Microservices demand isolated data stores to prevent data conflicts. DBaaS enables the provisioning of dedicated databases for each microservice, ensuring data integrity and isolation. And when it comes to database management and maintenance, microservice providers can leave those tasks to the DBaaS platform, freeing them up to focus on software quality and agility.

DBaaS and microservices example and best practices

A great example of microservices and DBaaS in action is the case of Forbes, the global media brand. With more than 50 microservices, they carefully migrated to Google Cloud using MongoDB Atlas and have since thrived in building and releasing faster. How fast? Up to 10 times faster, depending on the microservice, and with a 25% cost savings.

By adhering to microservice database best practices, you can achieve greater efficiency and keep your systems running smoothly using DBaaS for data storage. To align with best practices, you should:

  • Design for failure: Microservices are deployed in a distributed environment and can fail at any time. Designing your microservice databases to be resilient to failure and to automatically recover from outages can help promote the reliability and availability of your applications.
  • Use database-agnostic approaches: Microservices should be designed to be independent and loosely coupled. Using database-agnostic approaches, such as using a common data model and APIs, can help ensure that your microservices are not tightly coupled to specific databases or technology stacks.
  • Implement data consistency through event-driven architecture: To keep data consistent across multiple microservices, consider using an event-driven architecture. This can ensure that changes made to data in one microservice are automatically reflected in other microservices. A microservices centralized database can come in handy this way.

As cloud IT transformation continues to accelerate across nearly every industry, database as a service remains an appealing option whether a company deals in smaller microservices or globe-spanning software environments with millions of users. Along with migrating to cloud-based data stores, innovative organizations also incorporate database releases into their CI/CD pipeline, bringing DevOps to the cloud database and leveraging database observability for continual process improvements.

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