Cloud databases, or database on the cloud?

As 2012 came to a close I tweeted

NuoDB has today kicked off that debate with the launch of its Cloud Data Management System and 12 rules for a 21st century cloud database.

NuoDB’s 12 rules appear pretty sound to me – in fact you could argue they are somewhat obvious. This is actually to NuoDB’s credit in my opinion, in that they haven’t simply listed 12 differentiating aspects of their product, but 12 broader requirements.

Either way, I believe that this is the right time to be debating what constitutes a “cloud database”. Database on the cloud are nothing new, but these are existing relational database products configured to run on the cloud.

In other words, they are databases on the cloud, not databases of the cloud. There is a significant difference between spinning up a relational database in a VMI on the cloud versus deploying a database designed to take advantage of, enable, and be part of, the cloud.

To me, a true cloud database would be one designed to take advantage of and enable elastic, distributed architecture. NuoDB is one of those, but it won’t be the only one. Many NoSQL databases could also make a claim, albeit not for SQL and ACID workloads.

This isn’t a matter of SQL versus NoSQL, however. We’ve seen companies building their own next-generation database platforms deploying NoSQL and SQL technologies alongside each other for different workload and consistency requirements. Where the SQL layer falls down is the inability of existing relational databases to support elastic, geographically distributed cloud environments.

NuoDB believes it has a solution to that. So too do others including GenieDB, Translattice and VMware. Meanwhile Google’s F1 and Spanner projects have legitimized the concept of the globally-distributed SQL database.

Either way, the era of the relational cloud database – rather than the relational database on the cloud – has begun.

Previewing data management and analytics in 2012

451 Research yesterday announced that it has published its 2012 Previews report, an all-encompassing report highlighting the most disruptive and significant trends that our analysts expect to dominate and drive the enterprise IT industry agenda over the coming year.

The 93 page report provides an outlook and assessment across all 451 Research technology sectors and practice areas – including software infrastructure, cloud enablement, hosting, security, datacenter technologies, hardware, information management, mobility, networking and eco-efficient IT – with input from our team of 40+ analysts. The 2012 Previews report is available upon request here.

IM research director Simon Robinson has already provided a taster of our predictions as they relate to the information-centric landscape. Below I have outlined some of our core predictions related to the data-centric ecosystem:

The overall trend predicted for 2012 could best be described as the shifting focus from volume, velocity and velocity, to delivering value. Out concept of Total Data reflects the path from velocity and variety of information sources to the all-important endgame of deriving value from data. We expect to see increased interest in data integration and analytics technologies and approaches designed specifically to exploit the potential benefits of ‘big data’ and mainstream adoption of Hadoop and other new sources of data.

We also anticipate, and are beginning to see, increased focus on technologies that enable access to data in different storage platforms without requiring data movement. We believe there is an emerging role for what we are calling the ‘data hub‘ – an independent platform that is responsible for managing access to data on the various data storage and processing technologies.

Increased understanding of the value of analytics will also increase interest in the integration of analytics into operational applications. Embedded analytics is nothing new, but has the potential to achieve mainstream adoption this year as the dominant purveyors of applications used to run operations are increasingly focused on serving up embedded analytics as a key component within their product portfolios. Equally importantly, many of them now have database platforms capable of uniting previously disparate technologies to deliver true embedded analysis.

There has been a growing recognition over the past year or so that any type of data management project – whether focused on master data management (MDM), data or application integration, or data quality – needs to bring real benefits to business processes. Some may see this assertion as obvious and pretty easy to achieve, but that’s not necessarily the case. However, it is likely to become more so in the next 12-18 months as companies realize a process-driven approach to most data management programs makes sense and vendors deliver capabilities to meet this demand.

While ‘big data’ presents a number of opportunities, it also poses many challenges, not the least of which is the lack of developers, managers, analysts and scientists with analytics skills. The users and investors placing a bet on the opportunities offered by new data management products are unlikely to be laughing if it turns out that they cannot employ people to deploy, manage and run those products, or analysts to make sense of the data they produce. It is not surprising that, therefore, the vendors that supply those technologies are investing in ensuring that there is a competent workforce to support existing and new projects.

Finally, while cloud computing may be one of the technology industry’s hot topics, it has had relatively little impact on the data management sector to date. That is not to say that databases are not available on cloud computing platforms, but we must make a distinction between databases that are deployed in public clouds, and ‘cloud databases‘ that have the potential to fulfil the role of emerging databases in building private and hybrid clouds. The former have been available for many years. The latter are just beginning to come to fruition based on NoSQL databases, as well as a new breed of NewSQL relational databases, designed to meet the performance, scalability and flexibility needs of large-scale data processing.

451 Research clients can get more details of these specific predictions via our 2012 preview – Information Management, Part 2. Non-clients can apply for trial access at the same link, while the entire 2012 Previews report is available here.

Also, mark your diaries for a webinar discussing report highlights on Thursday Feb 9 at noon ET, which will be open for clients and non-clients to attend. Registration details to follow soon…

Forthcoming webinar: What is a cloud database?

Cloud computing and big data are two of the hottest topics in the industry today, which makes cloud databases a particularly hot prospect for 2012. What is a cloud database, however? On Thursday, December 15 at 12:00pm EST I’ll be taking part in a webinar with Karen Tegan Padir, Vice President of Products and Marketing, EnterpriseDB on the subject of cloud computing and true cloud databases.

In this webcast, you’ll get an overview of the current state of cloud database computing, and more specifically the differences between cloud databases and databases in the cloud. I’ll be providing an overview of the functional requirements that separate databases running in the public cloud, and databases that will be used to power private and hybrid clouds.

Then Karen will provide an overview and demonstration of Postgres Plus Cloud Server, which provides DaaS for PostgreSQL databases and went into public beta earlier this week.

You can register for the event here