Cloud Databases: What’s the Worry?

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nishant vyasIn this special guest feature, Nishant Vyas, Head of Product and Strategy at MariaDB, suggests that organizations “know” that the cloud can serve all aspects of an organization’s infrastructure, and not just their Salesforce subscriptions. But a recent study from InfoSecBuddy shows that 90 percent of enterprises are still wary to fully embrace cloud computing, citing security and other fears. What gives? Nishant is the Head of Product and Strategy at MariaDB. He previously worked at LinkedIn, where he was one of the early employees. During his almost nine-year tenure at LinkedIn, he contributed to building, scaling and operating production data stores using technologies like Oracle, MySQL, NoSQL and more. Nishant has extensive experience as a database engineer, database architect and DBA, and has held various leadership roles. He holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Gujarat University and a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Bridgeport. Based in the San Francisco bay area, Nishant is co-author of a patent in waterwheel sharding.


By now, organizations know that the public cloud can serve all aspects of an organization’s infrastructure, and not just provide the back-end for their Salesforce subscriptions. But a recent study from InfoSecBuddy shows that 90 percent of enterprises are still wary to fully embrace cloud computing.. So what gives? Reality and common sense point to concerns about latency, compliance, and security as legitimate reasons why organizations are hesitant to fully adopt the public cloud. If enterprises are ever going to put aside these concerns, IT departments must actively raise awareness and implement best practices for leveraging a hybrid cloud architecture.  How can IT plead the case for a hybrid cloud architecture and ensure the decision makers and stakeholders within the enterprise are comfortable with letting go of highly valuable and sensitive information? It’s all about education and clearly demonstrating the benefits of a cloud-first mentality.

The three key issues most central to an organization are performance, security, and compliance in the database. Many companies want their databases to deliver these capabilities while remaining on-premise, thinking closer proximity translates into better results. However, it’s actually the cloud that offers the best opportunity for maximizing performance, security, and compliance. And while storing all data in a public cloud can make a majority of today’s companies uncomfortable, a well-designed hybrid cloud database not only assuages common fears and meets companies’ database needs, it also gives enterprises a new level of scalability. Here are a few additional facts architects can bring to the table when discussing the pros and cons of a hybrid cloud architecture:

Public Cloud is Hip Now, but Hybrid Cloud could be the Next Big Thing

With the recent revenue announcements by public cloud providers such as Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure, it is clear that adoption of public cloud services is mainstream. Some industry experts like David Linthicum argue that enterprises should just forget about using private cloud altogether and focus on uploading everything to the public cloud. However, it’s likely public cloud offerings may never fully replace on-premise data storage. According to a study from IDC, while public cloud will grow in popularity, enterprises will still seek private cloud, hybrid cloud, and on-premise storage options. Many organizations will not move all their tech workloads to the public cloud for a few reasons: latency, data security, privacy, governance and compliance. They want easy data retrieval without being slowed down by network delays, running afoul of government laws, or worrying about hackers. So what’s the answer? Hybrid cloud, which is why its adoption rate is expected to triple by 2018.

A Modern Enterprise Has a Need for Speed

There is a disconnect between most enterprises’ infrastructure and their solutions and applications. Managing latency continues to challenge IT organizations due to aging networks and Internet connectivity. Meanwhile, many organizations have real-time applications that cannot afford even the slightest delay. Such delays are more prevalent when pulling data from the cloud than when data is stored on-premises. Furthermore, public cloud data stored in distant countries further this delay in retrieval. So companies will likely continue to keep some data on-premise or at the very least on cloud in the same geography. The speed benefit of a hybrid cloud model can also be leveraged by enterprises that have deployed private clouds or data on-premise with cloud bursting, quickly standing up service in new markets, and building business continuity and disaster recovery solutions etc. using public cloud.

Fears of Letting Go of Data

What plagues other enterprises are concerns about their ability to control the infrastructure where their data is stored, as previously referenced in the study from InfoSecBuddy. The fear is legitimate, however, as databases and their contents are what hackers ultimately value. With proper security measures such as at-rest encryption and access management as part of your database management system, operating in the cloud can provide an acceptable level of security that will allow security IT and security teams to sleep at night. And by properly educating their enterprises on the public cloud, these IT teams can assuage the decision-makers, allowing them to sleep too.

Beyond security concerns, enterprises also need to be educated on data privacy laws as more countries implement unique legislation. For instance, Canada, Germany and Russia are drafting tougher data laws which require data on their own citizens to be stored in their own countries. Databases will need to be in different cloud/on-premise combinations depending on the region. In a post-Snowden world, data sovereignty is at the top of everyone’s mind, especially as companies decide to turn to foreign or local vendors for their data needs. Compliance and best practices are crucial here; and it’s vital to avoid legal complications. Keep in mind that much like every other aspect of setting up a database, educating the decision-makers on the caveats of data privacy will be the first step.


Despite these reservations, enterprises will continue to explore when and how to leverage the public cloud and when it makes more sense to maintain data in their own data centers or to use a hybrid cloud approach. In the rest of 2016, we expect to see a greater focus placed on creating solutions that improve data migration, security and efficiencies utilizing hybrid cloud architectures. Features such as authentication, encryption-at-rest, firewalls and role-based access control will become the industry standard. But the most important thing to keep in mind, is that no matter how quickly the market moves, the need for robust education from IT departments remains crucial, and, like any business initiative, hybrid cloud is neither a quick fix nor something to rush.


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  1. very concisely explained. Keep writing.

  2. The cloud has been around for as long as we’ve had the internet: it is a server(s)/VM that someone else controls. I really hate the buzzword, but that’s me. For me, I don’t trust internet connectivity. I know my internal LAN is reliable as are my servers, I don’t have 100% faith in our internet connection.

    It’s a common failing to assume that everyone has 100% reliable connectivity 100% of the time. When you live in a rural area with limited options for internet connectivity, this can be a big issue.

  3. Vendor lock-in is not a valid concern?