If the results of a recent survey about databases carry any water, it's time for developers to learn some new cloud tools.
Databases in the cloud will impact the database industry more than any other technology, according to a database trends survey done by Embarcadero Technologies, a provider of tools for developers and database professionals.
Thirty-four percent of the respondents chose databases in the cloud as the technology likely to have the greatest effect on the database community. The other top technologies were: virtualization (27 percent); solid-state disks (15 percent), visual tuning (12 percent), and collaboration (8 percent). Embarcadero surveyed more than 1,200 database professionals
"With cloud database offerings from Amazon and Microsoft and a slew of open source providers taking off, most database professionals will be involved with the cloud in some form in 2011," said Scott Walz, senior director of product management for Embarcadero.
The long-term scalability and provisioning benefits of databases in the cloud should eventually pay off, said Walz.
"But, in the meantime, DBAs will have to learn an entirely new playbook for managing distributed data in a less than predictable and controlled environment," he said.
Changing DB Landscape
For years, the cloud database market was virtually owned by two 500-pound gorillas--Amazon and Google. But over the past year, other gorillas - notably Microsoft and Salesforce--and a few smaller beasts, such as Xeround, have flexed their muscles.
Amazon's DB product is SimpleDB and Google's is Bigtable.
SimpleDB is a highly available, scalable, and flexible, non-relational data store that offloads the work of database administration. Developers simply store and query data items via web services requests, and Amazon SimpleDB does the rest.
SimpleDB is one of the many components that comprise Amazon Web Services (AWS) - the others being the Simple Storage Service (S3) hosted storage facility, the CloudFront content-delivery service and the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) cloud-computing service. The opening up of SimpleDB to the public means anybody can use the service for real-time querying of the structured data hosted in AWS.
Google's Bigtable is a distributed storage system for managing structured data that is designed to scale to a very large size: petabytes of data across thousands of commodity servers. Many projects at Google store data in Bigtable, including web indexing, Google Earth, and Google Finance.
Bigtable is available to outside developers as part of Google App Engine, the company's cloud-computing platform.
Microsoft SQL Azure database is a cloud-based relational database built on SQL Server technologies. By using SQL Azure, developers can provision and deploy database solutions to the cloud, and take advantage of a distributed data center that provides enterprise-class availability, scalability, and security.
Databases Need to Embrace All Kinds of Enterprise Apps
The industry shift to mobile apps, to a social data model, and to an event-driven, push model all require a new kind of cloud database to support the next generation of enterprise apps.
"We see cloud databases as a massive market opportunity that will power the shift to enterprise applications that are natively cloud, mobile and social," said Marc Benioff, Salesforce's chairman and CEO, in a Dec. 7 statement.
Salesforce recently launched Database.com, an open database that the vendor claims will work with any device, platform and application.
Database.com provides developers with many benefits over client/server databases. They can write their applications in Java, C#, Ruby, PHP and other languages. And, they can run those apps on any platform--Force.com, VMforce, Amazon EC2, Google AppEngine, Heroku or Microsoft Azure.
Plus, all apps can run natively on any device, such as an Android phone, Blackberry, iPad, or iPhone. Small or large, the apps can all call the database.com APIs securely over the Internet.
Another recent entrant in the cloud database market is Xeround, which offers a SQL database designed specifically for the cloud.
Xeround's patented virtual partitioning technology (called Xeround) implemented over a scalable DHT (distributed hash table) turns a SQL database into a cloud database.
The Xeround solution provides multi-tenancy, high-availability, auto-scaling and self-healing - all without being bogged down by overhead costs in development and management, said Razi Sharir, CEO of Xeround.