The Complete Guide to Cloud Database Management and Migration

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Click to learn more about author Gilad David Maayan.

Cloud computing is the force behind many successful services, offering companies computing resources at scale. A veteran cloud service leveraged by many IT organizations is the Database as a Service (DBaaS).

Database management can be a complex and expensive operation. Agile-minded and DevOps teams aren’t happy with the slow progress of database development. Database as a Service (DBaaS) is here to the rescue, infusing a breath of flexibility into database management and cloud migration.

Read on to learn about cloud computing, cloud migration, Database as a Service (DBaaS), and everything you need to know to migrate your database to the cloud.

What Is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computingis an on-demand model that offers computing services hosted over the Internet. Unlike traditional computing, the cloud model offers computing as a service, eliminating the need to manage computing on-premise.

There are four main cloud computing resources offered as services:

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Delivers virtualized computing resources (such as networking and servers) over the Internet.

Eliminates the need to set up and manage complex computing in-house.

  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): Delivers application development resources (such as operating systems and execution environments) over the Internet.

Eliminates the need to purchase expensive application development tools.

  • Software as a Service (SaaS): Delivers software (such as intelligence and analytics) over the Internet under specific licenses.

Eliminates the need to download and install software on the computer.

  • Database as a Service (DBaaS): Delivers database management resources (such as storage and backup) over the Internet. Eliminates the need to maintain data centers in-house.

While all four services can be migrated to the cloud, this article will focus on Database as a Service (DBaaS).

What Is Cloud Migration?

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Cloud migration is the process of transferring some or all of the computing resources of the organization to the cloud.

You can migrate computing resources from any location to any destination, including:

  • On-premise migration: From on-premises data centers to public clouds
  • Cloud-to-cloud migration: From one cloud platform to another cloud provider 
  • Reverse cloud migration: From the cloud to on-premises data centers

Why Many Organizations Migrate Their Data to the Cloud

Since the inception of cloud computing in the 1960s, the model has grown into a $136 billion industry, encompassing a wide range of sub-categories and services. Cloud adoption has become so popular researchers estimate that by 2020 83% of enterprise workloads will be migrated to the cloud.

The following benefits of cloud computing contribute to the popularity the cloud industry has seen over the past years:

  • Value: Cloud service providers have the ability to offer their customers a high value of services in return for their investment. Pricing models such as on-demand and subscriptions offer organizations and individuals throughout the world access to more services than they could possibly manage on their own. For example, a budding startup could use cloud IaaS on demand rather than throw precious funds on a local data center.
  • Security: Most cloud service providers have the resources and experience to provide their customers with advanced security controls. Some providers offer built-in security while others offer a variety of security modules. Be sure to research in advance and find the models that fit your business.
  • Automation: In today’s market, organizations are measured in terms of speed as well as quality. Automation enables organizations to delegate manual tasks to machines. Thus, clearing the time of the personnel for other uses and speeding the processes with powerful machines. Most cloud service providers offer automation as part of their service, while others offer automation at an additional cost.
  • Accessibility: Cloud service providers offer robust capabilities at affordable costs, all easily accessed over the Internet. When your resources are hosted in the cloud, you can access them from any physical location and any device. As long as you have your identification credentials, you can gain access to your account.

What Is Database as a Service (DBaaS)?

Database as a service (DBaaS) is a cloud computing service that provides database management resources over the Internet.

Database management resources help organizations organize, maintain, secure, and analyze data processes. The core goal of database management is to enforce data control at any stage of the data lifecycle, so that later on the data could be translated into meaningful information.

Database as a service (DBaaS) providers offer platforms and systems for the management of some or all of the following tasks:

  • Storage and integration: Data storage capacity and API integration with a variety of database management systems.
  • Management console: For managing and monitoring any connected data resource, often including visibility into the performance of data-driven applications.
  • Security and access: Built-in or separated modules for implementing data security controls and access authorization.
  • Analytics and automation: Big Data tools that provide insights and automation tools that speed up processes.

Database Management and Cloud Migration Best Practices

The tips below are organized according to phases for clarity purposes. You are by no means obligated to use the phases linearly. A flexible agile approach can help ease the process of cloud migration and enhance the management of your databases.

Phase A—What to Do Before Migrating Your Database to the Cloud

1. Take stock of your resources

Create an inventory of all the digital assets you want to migrate to the cloud. Include the license type of each tool, to ensure that your license covers cloud environments. If you can’t bring your own license (BYOL), maybe your service provider offers a pay-per-use license. Check this in advance to avoid compliance issues.

2. Set a budget for cloud migration

After taking stock of your resources, take stock of your finances and allocate funds appropriately. You will have the initial costs for the migration process and then a new monthly expense for the use of the DBaaS service and any related tasks. Before moving forward with the migration, ensure that you have enough initial capital to begin the process and the equity to sustain the adoption.

3. Choose a migration strategy

A migration strategy serves as the blueprint of the entire operation. It includes all the particulars and determines how the migration will be implemented. You may choose any of the following migration strategies, depending on the needs of the project and the budget.

General migration strategies include:

  • Rehosting: “Lift and shift”—fast cloud-to-cloud migration.
  • Replatform: “Lift, thinker, and shift”—a version of rehosting that optimizes some of the migrated components.
  • Repurchase: “Drop and shop”—migrating from on-premise data centers to the cloud. May apply to any of the offered cloud computing services.

Migration strategies for ineffective resources:

  • Refactoring: “Re-architecting”—re-purposing ineffective resources to lower costs and increased efficiency. Requires complex configurations of code.
  • Retiring: Turning off ineffective resources to avoid wasting space, speed, and performance capacity in the new cloud environment.
  • Retaining: Saving ineffective resources for later use in the former environment and migrating only active resources.

4. Run performance checks

To prevent transferring threats along with your resources, run a performance check before migrating to the cloud. The time and resources invested in this check can save you trouble and overhead in the future. Get rid of any detected vulnerability to protect your cloud.

5. Bring your team into the process

The cloud offers many advantages, but it also introduces a change. Before migrating, ensure that your IT team is trained in cloud computing and that your general personnel is versed in the proper use and care of the cloud. It would be wise to create in advance a Policies and Procedures document that explains how cloud environments are to be handled.

Phase B—Set Up Your Cloud Architecture, Management, and Security

1. Choose your cloud architecture wisely

Migrating to the cloud often offers a fresh new start. You can shed old models in favor of modern designs of cloud architecture. While models such as the multi-cloud architecture have become popular due to the level of flexibility it offers, it might not be the best solution for all businesses. Be sure to model cloud architecture in accordance with the needs of the business.

2. Create a security strategy for protecting data in the cloud

Remember that security needs changes between environments. When designing your new security strategy, take into account the security controls offered by the new service provider in correlation with legacy security resources you still have in-house.

Current standards of data security promote:

  • Tokenization for protecting data at rest and in transit
  • Identity and Access Management (IAM) systems for securing access
  • VPN and encryption for protecting data in transit

Phase C—Automate Cloud Migration, Governance, and Monitoring Processes

1. Set up a monitoring system

Continuous monitoring of the cloud enables a healthy cloud environment. You can set up your own monitoring system, or you can use the modules offered by the cloud provider. Whichever the case, ensure that you have basic visibility controls such as audit logs. If possible, use automation and analytics tools to set up regular security and performance alerts.

2. Set up a governance system

Most cloud providers offer their own management platform, which serves as your main control room. Make sure that the provider of your choice can integrate with your preferred database management system. Most providers offer integration with the popular MySQL and Postgres management systems. Not all providers offer NoSQL compatibility or pre-built APIs for a large number of systems.

3. Automate cloud migration processes

You can increase the speed of migration processes by automating repeated patterns. The automation capabilities are determined by the chosen tool, and may include the following functionalities:

  • Run automated scripts
  • Automate the migration processes
  • Implement controller-level automation
  • Automate optimization of servers

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