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Virtualization, Cloud Having Little Impact On Databases

Cloud computing has taken center stage during the last two years as the hot enterprise technology, but in the database realm, the public cloud and off-site hosted database services still represent too many unknown factors to truly have mass adoption. According to the co-author of the InformationWeek "State of Database Technology" report, the public cloud is so far having very little impact on enterprise databases.

Although enterprises are adopting cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM), email, enterprise content management and Web hosting services, concerns and challenges related to the cloud are slowing the adoption of cloud-based databases, said David Read, CTO of Blue Slate Solutions and co-author of the report.

According to a survey of 760 business technology professionals, only 7% are currently using a cloud provider for their primary database technology. Most of those who have adopted cloud-based database services are still managing database operations within their own staff IT departments. Of the respondents, only 2% are using a fully managed cloud-based database.

"Concerns and challenges that are slowing adoption include security, SLAs and performance. Security of cloud offerings continues to be debated. Having standards by which a cloud offering could be measured are slow in gaining traction," Read said. "Breaches, whether of true cloud provider infrastructures or just general Web-based solutions, continue to reinforce the risks of moving information outside the castle walls."

However, the cloud is piquing the interest of enterprise IT departments, even if IT professionals don't yet think it's ready for prime time. The survey found that 29% of respondents are researching cloud options. However, 55% of respondents are not considering cloud as the primary database technology.

Performance issues are strongly related to virtualization, and 45% of respondents noted they aren't virtualizing primary databases because of their concerns about how the technology will impact performance. When it comes to adoption and interest, though, virtualization is in a different place than cloud, Read said. Thirty-seven percent of have virtualized their primary database servers, and 23% plan to do so in the next two years. Additionally, 28% of respondents stated they have virtualized their data warehouse servers, and 24% plan to do so in the next two years. However, 32% of respondents said they have no plans to virtualize their primary databases, and 37% are not interested in virtualizing their data warehouses.

Enterprises are looking to virtualization for the promised benefits of ease of deployment, reduction of hardware costs, reduction in energy costs and simplified disaster recovery. Databases benefit most from ease of deployment and simplified disaster recovery.

According to Read, database management system products almost universally make replication and recovery straightforward, which mutes that aspect of attraction to virtualization. Based on the survey results, though, some companies have adopted and realized the benefits of virtualizing their database environments, but the applicability of virtualization for database servers is specific to an IT department's strategy and operational planning.

"From the survey results, and feedback from many DBAs with whom we work, the database is something that is never fast enough and the overhead of virtualization simply moves the performance needle in the wrong direction," Read said.

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