DBaaS on Azure: Can You Shut Down Your On-Premises Database?
The public cloud offers a plethora of service options for enterprises when deploying applications. But the central piece of this puzzle is often the decision of what to do with one’s databases. Azure Cloud offers clients the flexibility to deploy their databases using either the IaaS approach, which is closer to a traditional on-premises construct, or the completely managed Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) model.
Both options are equally popular, but the decision is mostly dependent on factors like use-case feasibility, control, security, and management. DBaaS offerings have many advantages, but they often lack features that are available in traditional on-premises database deployments.
We’ll explore the different DBaaS offerings in Azure, and the best-fit solutions for different enterprise scenarios, and how a Managed Cloud Service Provider (MCSP) and Azure Expert MSP like Navisite can guide you down the right road.
Fully-Managed Database Services in Azure
DBaaS offerings help control database management overhead and allow organizations to focus on application development to meet business priorities and increase business agility. Azure offers a wide range of managed database services to service clients’ application stack requirements. The most popular choices include (but are not limited to) Azure SQL Database, Azure Cosmos DB, Azure DB for MySQL, and Table Storage.
Azure SQL Database
The Azure SQL Database is based on the latest stable version of the Microsoft SQL server database engine. All the latest features of the SQL server are available to users with no operational overhead. It’s easy to scale the service to meet increased workload demands—either manually or automatically—without dealing with application downtime. The Azure SQL Database has automated backups enabled to cater to your business continuity requirements.
It’s also highly available by design and backed by a 99.99% SLA for availability. All the underlying patch installation and platform upgrades are taken care of transparently, with minimal business impact. Automated scalability is another key advantage of Azure SQL databases, allowing organizations to use capacity according to application requirements.
Azure Cosmos DB
Azure Cosmos DB is a multi-model DBaaS that can be geographically distributed across multiple Azure regions. It’s suitable for applications accessed globally because the data can be distributed to multiple regions, allowing users to access data with minimal latency depending on their geographical location. The service supports multiple data models such as key-value, graph, document, and column family.
Like Azure SQL Database, Azure Cosmos DB also supports on-demand scalability and includes a financially-backed 99.99% SLA for throughput, consistency, availability, and latency. Azure Cosmos DB is competitively priced compared to AWS DynamoDB or Google Spanner. That’s why it offers a great value proposition if you’re building global scale applications that need to handle large amounts of data in real time.
Azure DB for MySQL
This service is based on the open-source MySQL community edition. Azure DB for MySQL adds enterprise-class features like high availability, scalability, automated backups, and security to the popular MySQL platform. The SSL connection is enforced for security of data in motion – data at-rest is encrypted using an AES 256-bit cipher at storage level. Monitoring metrics can be configured at the service level to check for any anomalies in performance, and they instantly alert administrators or call a webhook to initiate remedial actions.
Azure Table storage caters to applications that need managed NoSQL storage. It’s useful in architectures where a schema-less storage is required to store structured data. Table storage facilitates easier data storage in instances that do not require foreign keys, and can be easily accessed using API calls. Table storage can scale on demand up to several TBs according to application requirements.
DBaaS vs On-Premises Databases
Traditional on-premises databases provide full control of database engine management. The database administrator can choose the maintenance windows, patches to be applied, and customize the DB engine as required.
However, this approach involves additional costs. One must consider the cost of maintaining data centers to host the servers, and the human effort involved in the management and maintenance of the environment. When using DBaaS offerings, these activities are all managed by the platform and are often transparent to the user. But there’s a tradeoff regarding the extent to which clients have control over the database engine.
DBaaS offerings in the cloud target cloud-native applications, usually in architectures that leverage other cloud exclusive services. A two-tier architecture in Azure that uses the WebApps PaaS service along with Azure SQL or MySQL DBaaS is a common example. Clients also have the advantage of using the pay-as-you-go licensing model instead of paying the SQL license up front. The chart below compares the on-premises/IaaS database deployment model with the DBaaS deployment model for SQL servers based on costs incurred and administrative control.
Moving towards the DBaaS model reduces clients’ administrative control, but there’s an upside tradeoff in terms offering competitive prices, enterprise-class security, scalability, and business continuity features. Leveraging the expertise of an Azure Expert MSP like Navisite ensures an even greater level of oversight of these functions, alleviating the management needed by in-house IT staff.
Business Drivers for DbaaS
Organizations typically consider DBaaS during application modernization initiatives in which harnessing cloud capabilities is an integral part of the IT strategy. Below are some common business drivers for DBaaS adoption:
- DBaaS converts CapEx investments for DB capacity to OpEx, where you pay only for capacity used.
- It’s easy to pair DBaaS offerings with other cloud services, because most cloud services have native integration capabilities for this purpose.
- Faster set up compared to traditional on-premises databases, and offers an accelerated path to market for your applications.
- Some organizations utilize the DBaaS as a disaster recovery option for faster recovery from failures in on-premises DB environments.
- Uptime guarantees from DBaaS vendors ease availability concerns and offers a financial safety net for organizations.
Benefits of Using DBaaS in Azure
Let’s explore some of the most valuable advantages of using Azure’s DBaaS offerings.
Flexible Purchasing Options
DBaaS offerings are available in a pay-as-you-go model with different options catering to different business requirements. For example, Azure SQL database offers a DTU-based purchasing model for preconfigured resource options, and a vCore-based model for flexible computing and storage requirements.
Data at-rest is secured using encryption methods like transparent data encryption, or storage-level encryption in the DBaaS offering. Data in-motion is secured using SSL- and Transport- layer security. Additional network-layer security can be enabled by restricting access to SQL databases and to virtual networks using service endpoints. Firewall rules can be configured to allow access to databases from specified IP addresses only. Azure SQL Databases allow SQL authentication as well as Azure AD authentication for integrated authentication scenarios.
There is no additional investment required for patching and management because the underlying platform takes care of it. This eliminates the learning curve because it frees up developers to focus on application requirements.
Azure DBaaS offerings assure high availability by taking preventive steps against data center outages and possible software/hardware failure. Major DBaaS services like Azure SQL, MySQL and Cosmos DB have built-in automatic backup schedules that allow point-in-time restore in case of data corruption.
Capacity and scalability is always a concern with on-premises hosting of databases. DBaaS leverages the massive scalability of the public cloud and offers capacity upgrades on-the-fly to meet changing business demands. For example, Azure SQL DB supports both vertical scaling in which you can increase computing power allocated to DBs, and horizontal scaling through sharding by distributing data across multiple independent databases.
Choosing between DBaaS and on-premises databases typically involves multiple phases of careful assessment, planning and execution. Most organizations frequently lack the cloud technical knowledge and the bandwidth to properly manage a DBaaS migration and implementation on Azure. In such scenarios, enlisting an MCSP like Navisite can help with navigating the process of an on-premises-to-DBaaS migration scenario.
Navisite is a Microsoft Gold Azure Expert MSP and a designated one of four Azure Centers of Excellence (COE), with extensive experience in managing complex Azure environments and application databases. Navisite can help in workload assessment, onboarding, management, and monitoring of complex services like DBaaS in Azure.
With more than 20 years of experience and some 117+ Azure experts, Navisite is one of the leading MCSPs for Azure. Navisite can complement your organization’s IT staff with teams of experienced Azure technicians, architects and support engineers.
When it comes to adoption of new technologies like DBaaS, Navisite can be an invaluable partner for your organization in the journey, from planning, to implementation and management. Visit our website to learn more about Navisite’s Azure Cloud Management Services, call us at (888) 298-8222, or contact us for further information.
While public cloud brought a plethora of services for enterprises to choose from when deploying applications, the central piece of this puzzle is often the decision of what to do with the choice of databases. Azure cloud offers flexibility for clients to deploy their databases either using IaaS approach, which is closer to a traditional on-premises construct, or go for the completely managed Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) model.
Both these options are equally popular, but the selection is mostly dependent on many factors like use-case feasibility, control, security and management. DBaaS offerings have many advantages but may not have all some specific features when compared to traditional on-premises database deployments. An Azure Expert MSP like Navisite can help clients navigate these challenges in deciding their best course for locating their applications’ databases.
This blog will explore the different DBaaS offerings in Azure to understand the best fit solutions for different enterprise scenarios.