Even the most skilled DBAs need to change their mindset when moving to the cloud. It’s similar. Yet different. What you gain in capacity – you could lose in complexity, management, and costs. That is, unless you know what you’re doing.
What to Look Out For?
The things that can make or break your move are: scalability, high availability, ease-of-management, multi-tenancy, and distributed databases for large-volume installs.
In the cloud, you lose direct physical control. So, you need to make sure your database can scale according to your changing needs. Since the cloud is remote, it’s harder to add nodes when you need to scale out.
If you don’t have your data replicated in the cloud – you’re in trouble. The cloud’s lack of stability makes it hard to assure high availability.
Monitoring your cloud instances and ensuring their high availability and scalability is labor intensive and a 24/7/365 task. To make it easier on you, be sure your set up simplifies your management overhead as much as possible.
If you’re running a large volume of database instances, be sure to get a service that supports true multi-tenancy. This lets you optimize resources and ease your management. Don’t make the mistake of installing an SQL database on the same machine – in multiple copies – thinking this will create “multi-tenancy”. This can cause major problems when each instance needs to scale or grow independently down the road.
You need distributed databases – to take care of latency and network issues, as well as conflicts.
Wait, There’s a Better Way
I know, it probably sounds like I’m not in favor of the cloud. But that’s because I didn’t mention the Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) option. A DBaaS provider can take care of these issues for you. Especially scalability and high availability.
What Features are you Looking for in a Vendor?
Now you have a better idea about what features to look for in a cloud database. Therefore, now you need to know what to look for in a vendor. Here are two things you’ll want to consider:
Make sure to carefully read the vendor’s SLA, to learn how much capacity is going to cost you. Remember, capacity is a highly changing variable. If your needs grow drastically in the future, your costs may also rise drastically. So, you might need to negotiate the price of added capacity, from the start.
If your vendor doesn’t provide the support you need, you might have a system that won’t work well. And might even cost more to run. Ask for at least three references and call each one to verify they’re pleased. As you probably know, a vendor with a large user support group can help you troubleshoot many problems. So, look for vendors with large forums as well.
See more suggestions for how to choose a vendor in Tom Kincaid’s post: “How to Choose the Right Cloud Database: Seven Considerations”.