Any time we stare into the crystal ball and try to predict the future, we try to balance what we want to see and what we hope won’t happen. We have to extrapolate from our own experiences, and what we think will take place after. And we’ll have to try and anticipate things that might not be likely to happen, but would have a big impact if they did.
In the database sector, we have benefitted from how important data has become to businesses. As companies had to improve their applications and digital services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they implemented more database instances and more tools to use that data that they created. No company is going to reduce its reliance on these services over time – in fact, they will continue to use all this data over time, developing new products or finding new ways to create value.
Data, Data Everywhere: How To Run the Service Most Efficiently
What will this mean in practice?
The big trend in 2022 will be around how companies run their databases. In the past, companies had to run their instances internally as part of their data center environment, with all the care and maintenance that this implies. Today, developers and IT teams have far more options on how to implement and support data over time. Alongside on-premise deployments, databases can be run by a service provider, implemented in the cloud, used as a service from a cloud provider, or set up and run as serverless instances.
The sheer variety of different deployment options aims to make it easier, but this will lead to potential confusion. With so many options available, it is more likely that people will pick options that offer short-term benefits but less value long-term compared with others. This can be through overpaying for a service compared to the cost for implementing a database, or through not understanding the cost model for a service as it grows over time. Alternatively, costs can come up during a migration from one service to another when mistakes are discovered or improvements need to be made.
In 2022, more companies will adopt database-as-a-service (DBaaS) options as they support more applications and digital services. This will help their developers get started quickly, and they can then concentrate on building those applications. At the same time, some of those companies that were early adopters of DBaaS will migrate themselves, most likely to managed services. This will offer some additional flexibility and performance gains, but also keep the benefits around management.
Other developers will look at how they can implement their own DBaaS platform, so they can get the benefit of all the automation but without being tied to a specific provider. This will provide a better experience for those developers, letting them automate and simplify their approach to data, but without lock-in or ceding control to a third party.
Many companies will follow the same path they have in place, continuing to buy more from their cloud providers, rather than actively improving their environment, because they don’t understand the alternatives available. For some, they will be happy to maintain this approach as they view the additional spend as worthwhile; others will not even know that they have a problem in the first place.
Developer Choice Will Have the Most Impact on Data Strategies
While databases are still critical to applications, the technology continues to be commoditized. Essentially, databases are becoming just another component in how developers put their stacks together. While each database might have its own specialization and uses, this is becoming less and less important to developers. Similar to how you choose your favorite programming language, library, or framework, databases are getting chosen based on what they have used before.
The smorgasbord of options around databases has benefits for developers, but it also means applications are becoming increasingly more complex and opaque. Looking at recent major outages for cloud providers, large corporations, and websites, you see the smallest component can become the Achilles heel for the entire application. This could reach a tipping point in a few years where consolidation and less choice may become the new normal.
While there are huge volumes of funding available for companies to start building up new projects today, those investments will become due in the future. If they won’t pay off – due to the level of competition in the market – then there will be a wave of consolidation around those projects that have achieved critical mass. This would then lead to less potential viable database projects or components being on the market. In practice, this potential market trend is years away. In the next year, we will see even more diversity in tech, making observability and insight critical.
The Need for Skills and the Risk to Security
Alongside the growth of data in businesses, teams will also need to look at the mix of skills that they have in place. For the vast majority of developers and DevOps teams, databases are something that they could care less about. They want databases to work, and they want to pay attention only when something is not functioning as expected. At this point, database skills become a necessity. They then need a database administrator (DBA) or data specialist to manage and use the data they collect.
For those with database skills, these are not enough on their own. As companies face problems or want to optimize their IT, providing this experience is hugely valuable. However, DBAs are tending to move into consultancy or service-provider roles rather than staying on staff. For those that do want to continue working in companies rather than for vendors, they are looking at expanding their skills to cover a lot more areas of IT beyond the database.
The impact of all these trends is that the availability of skills will be more limited on the open market. Companies will have to engage more with consultants or third-party providers when they need help or rely on the providers that they have in place for their cloud services. This will put more of an economic value on that expertise around databases.
There will be another issue that continues in 2022, and it is related to that lack of database skills in the market. Sadly, there will be more data breaches that take place due to poor database security hygiene. All too often, databases get implemented quickly without thought as to how to harden them properly. Steps like enforcing passwords for access through to full role-based access control should be second nature for everyone involved in infrastructure today, but it is all too easy for these to be missed in the rush to get things done.
Without a fundamental change in approach, the number of security breaches won’t go down in the year ahead. More data will be stolen or encrypted for ransom, and more businesses will get damaged. In response, more companies will mandate security by design approaches to follow, including secure deployment for any database instances that developers implement.
For those that move over to DBaaS, improved security management should be one of the selling points as the provider should take care of that element. However, this does put more emphasis on managing identities and access for cloud accounts. Implementing multi-factor authentication should help as well, and it should not be something that developers can work around. Helping them to be as efficient and fast as possible while keeping secure will be a major focus for 2022.