Who Will Win the Database Wars? Cloud Vs On-Premises Database Management Systems

This is the first installment in the Who Will Win the Database Wars series which analyzes the most significant areas of database vendor competition. In addition to this comparison, the series also includes the following competitive assessments:

  • Public Cloud Vendor Comparison – Amazon, Oracle and Microsoft
  • The “Traditional Big Three”: Oracle Microsoft and IBM vs Everybody
  • Relational vs NoSQL Models
  • Open Source vs Commercial DBMS Vendors

The rapid growth of cloud DBMS offerings is providing organizations with cost-effective alternatives to on-premises systems. When calculating TCO and return on their database investment, savvy decision makers are now considering cloud systems as attractive alternatives to more traditional on-premises database data stores. Numerous industry pundits and database vendors are guaranteeing that cloud systems will solve all of our database challenges.

However, IT organizations’ budget constraints, substantial investments in on-premises infrastructure, security concerns and the challenge of sharing data between cloud and on-premises database applications will continue to drive privately controlled DBMS implementations. A late 2015 Survey by SolarWinds reinforces these assumptions. Survey recipients stated that the top barriers to cloud adoption were security/compliance concerns, continued need to support legacy systems and budgetary limitations.

What Architecture Will Win the Database Wars – On-Premises or Cloud?

WINNER – Neither. Hybrid Clouds Will Become the Architecture of Choice

For this discussion, hybrid clouds are the DBMS vendors’ attempts to overcome the lack of consistency between public cloud and on-premises DB systems. The majority of database vendors’ on-premises database offerings differ from their public cloud counterparts. In addition, public cloud implementations of the same database product may differ from each other. Oracle, Amazon and Google all offer cloud versions of MySQL and, although very much alike in many areas, they also have key differences.

The environments often differ in database features and functionality, data access mechanisms, administrative processes and interfaces, maintenance utilities, monitoring, security controls, backup/recovery, disaster recovery and tuning and performance.   

A utopian hybrid DBMS cloud would be an environment that has a combination of public and private cloud DBMS architectures that are totally transparent and seamless to administrators and developers. For developers, it would be an environment that allows 100% code compatibility between private and public clouds. For DBAs, it would be an environment that is monitored and administered exactly the same way, regardless of whether that system is running on a server in the shop’s data center or in the public cloud.

This utopian vision is coming closer to reality. Oracle’s Database Cloud and Microsoft’s Azure Stack are offerings that have the goal of making public and private cloud implementations as seamless as possible. There is no doubt that both vendors understand the importance of seamless public and private implementations to their customer base and are expending significant resources to achieve that goal.

Hybrid clouds will provide organizations with the option of easily deploying database systems to the architecture that best fits the application’s unique processing requirements. As a result, once the database vendors achieve true hybrid architectures that are totally seamless and transparent to the database consumer, they will quickly eclipse their cloud and on-premises pure-play system counterparts.  

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