An organization’s database environment is central to its operations, supporting all aspects of its daily business functions. But running a database in the conventional on-premise environment comes with a number of downsides. These include high maintenance and licensing costs, manually keeping it updated with the latest versions and patches, protecting it against rising security risks—plus a critical lack of flexibility and scalability to adapt to the ever-changing business world.
Meanwhile, cloud computing gives businesses greater control than ever in terms of cost management, data security, and scalability, which means for almost all organizations the question of cloud migration is not if, but when. According to a survey by Gartner, by 2022 75% of databases will have moved to the cloud for an array of compelling reasons, including these top factors:
1. Critical scalability to meet fluctuating business needs
Whether you’re a multinational corporation, a growing startup or you have a seasonal model with peaks and dips in usage, your data requirements are likely to vary throughout the year. Moving to a cloud database lets you scale up and down according to actual demand, without the capital outlay required for an on-prem environment or long waits for additional resources to be provisioned.
For companies on an upward trajectory, as your business grows, so will your data usage needs, so moving to the cloud lets you futureproof your IT capabilities without substantial capital expenditures up front.
2. Cost optimization
In 2021 Gartner predicted worldwide public cloud revenue will grow by 23% for a total close to $332.2 billion U.S., up from $270 billion in 2020. Key reasons behind this sharp spike in cloud modernizations include flexible, pay-as-you-go pricing models, plus the cost benefits gained from zero capital expenditure.
A cloud database offers a more balanced ratio of operating expenditure costs, since a cloud service vendor shares a portion of the fees. The cloud also lets you right-size your database server to achieve 100% utilization, helping you avoid resource waste.
3. Increased business flexibility and agility
Deploying database applications is easier and faster in a cloud environment than in an on-premise data center. You can quickly install and launch applications, as well as set resources like memory and bandwidth to correspond to current workloads. This seamless deployment sharply reduces downtime, giving users, and customers, virtually uninterrupted access, while you ensure functionality and security are always up-to-date.
Shared data also helps your business operations run more smoothly. Data that’s already on your cloud platform can be easily plugged in and shared with your other cloud-based applications and services, giving both employees and leadership an easily accessible, 360-degree view of your customers. A single, integrated system also optimizes customer experience by creating an omni-channel, seamless pathway across multiple interaction avenues.
4. Automating essential backup processes
Your database stores the data currency of your organization and therefore needs to be backed up on a continuous basis. In an on-premise IT infrastructure this is a tedious, labor-intensive process that involves configuration of backup servers or even storing data on tapes.
By contrast, the cloud makes it much easier by automating the entire process. Additionally, all cloud providers run backup servers and store those backups across multiple regions, so your database remains secure and accessible even in the event of a technical or natural disaster.
5. Management of database nodes and operating systems
An on-premise database typically runs on a specific server node and operating system that need to be constantly updated. Cloud providers like AWS, Google Cloud Platform, Oracle Cloud and Microsoft Azure use automatic tooling that can provide new instance deployment in an automated, expedient fashion, while maintaining server nodes, operating systems and database engine software. This frees your support staff from the time-consuming burden of manually installing updates and patches.
Cloud providers today also provide native monitoring and reporting tools that can be customized to your environment, so you have better control of operations and can be warned of impending issues ahead of time.
6. High availability and disaster recovery
As many of you are painfully aware, any IT outage can cost your business thousands of dollars. A 2020 report by ITIC shows that 88% of firms say their hourly downtime costs exceeded $300K in 2020 alone. With the ongoing pandemic increasing companies’ reliance on online platforms, both for remote work and to do business in an ever more 24/7 retail model, the cost of outages will only rise.
Moreover, when an outage affects your database applications the consequences can be even more drastic, since these often contain sensitive employee, client and business partner data. By contrast, with their multitude of built-in protections, cloud databases are protected from unpredictable failures that result in costly downtime and potential loss of data. With automated backup processes and data replication in multiple availability zones, cloud platforms ensure your data is always safe and up-to-date, and business can continue no matter what.
7. State of the art analytics
Modernization is also key to ramping up your analytics capabilities. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning operations (MLOps) are contingent upon real-time data availability, and cloud platforms let you create the data models and visualizations necessary for data-driven decision-making.
As we’ve discussed previously, leveraging real-time data also lets you proactively optimize operations, develop new products and services, and seize opportunities to create new revenue streams and enhance customer experience—giving you an immediate, asymmetric competitive advantage.
8. Locked-down data security
Your database stores your most sensitive information and runs core, mission-critical business activities, making it absolutely essential to your company’s survival. Yet data stored in an in-house data center is always at risk of being lost or compromised. The reasons range from server crashes to disruptive business or environmental events and, increasingly, brute-force attacks like hacking or ransomware.
But when you modernize your database to the cloud, you put your data under multiple robust and highly configurable security layers. From automatic backup to encryption, multi-factor authentication and more, cloud providers—who spend billions on the most proactive, leading-edge measures—offer an array of security options that can safeguard your data better than you ever could in an on-premise environment.