I recently stumbled across a tech news post which surprised me so much I nearly dropped my mojito. The headline of this article screamed:
Gartner Says the Future of the Database Market Is the Cloud
Now I know what you are thinking… the first two words probably put your cynicism antenna into overdrive. And as for the rest, well duh! You could make a case for any headline which reads “The Future of ____________ is the Cloud”. Databases, Artificial Intelligence, Retail, I.T., video streaming, the global economy… But stick with me, because it gets more interesting:
On-Premises DBMS Revenue Continues to Decrease as DBMS Market Shifts to the Cloud
Yeah, not yet. That’s just a predictable sub-heading, I admit. But now we get to the meat of the article – and it’s the very first sentence which turns everything upside down:
By 2022, 75% of all databases will be deployed or migrated to a cloud platform, with only 5% ever considered for repatriation to on-premises, according to Gartner, Inc.
Boom! By the year 2022, 75% of all databases will be in the cloud! Even with the cloud so ubiquitous these days, that number caused me some surprise.
Also, I have so many questions about this:
- Does “a cloud platform” mean the public cloud? One would assume so but the word “public” doesn’t appear anywhere in the article.
- Does “all databases” include RDBMS, NoSQL, key-value stores, what? Does it include Microsoft Access?
- Is the “75%” measured by the number of individual databases, by capacity, by cost, by the number of instances or by the number of down-trodden DBAs who are trying to survive yet another monumental shift in their roles?
- How do databases perform in the public cloud?
Now, I’m writing this in mid-2020, in the middle of the global COVID19 pandemic. The article, which is a year old and so pre-COVID19, makes the prediction that this will come true within the next two years. It doesn’t allow for the possibility of a total meltdown of society or the likelihood that the human race will be replaced by Amazon robots within that timeframe. But, on the assumption that we aren’t all eating out of trash cans by then, I think the four questions above need to be addressed.
Questions 1, 2 and 3 appear to be the domain of the authors of this Gartner report. But question 4 opens up a whole new area for investigation – and that will be the topic of this next set of blogs. But let’s finish reading the Gartner notes first, because there’s more:
“Cloud is now the default platform for managing data”
One of the report’s authors, long-serving and influential Gartner analyst Merv Adrian, wrote an accompanying blog post in which he makes the assertion that “cloud is now the default platform for managing data”.
And just to make sure nobody misunderstands the strength of this claim, he follows it up with the following, even stronger, remark:
On-premises is the past, and only legacy compatibility or special requirements should keep you there.
Now, there will be people who read this who immediately dismiss it as either obvious (“we’re already in the cloud”) or gross exaggeration (“we aren’t leaving our data centre anytime soon”) – such is the fate of the analyst. But I think this is pretty big. Perhaps the biggest shift of the last few decades, in fact.
Why This Is A Big Deal
The move from mainframes to client/server put more power in the hands of the end users; the move to mobile devices freed us from the constraints of physical locations; the move to virtualization released us from the costs and constraints of big iron; but the move to the cloud is something which carries far greater consequences.
After all, the cloud offers many well-known benefits: almost infinite scalability and flexibility, immunity to geographical constraints, costs which are based on usage (instead of up-front capital expenditure), and a massive ecosystem of prebuilt platforms and services.
And all you have to give up in return is complete control of your data.
Oh and maybe also the predictability of your I.T. costs – remember in the old days of cell phones, when you never exactly knew what your bill would look like at the end of the month? Yeah, like that, but with more zeroes on the end.
Over to Merv to provide the final summary (emphasis is mine):
The message in our research is simple – on-premises is the new legacy. Cloud is the future. All organizations, big and small, will be using the cloud in increasing amounts. While it is still possible and probable that larger organizations will maintain on-premises systems, increasingly these will be hybrid in nature, supporting both cloud and on-premises.
The two questions I’m going to be asking next are:
- What does this shift to the cloud mean for the unrecognised but true hero of the data center, the DBA?
- If we are going to be building or migrating all of our databases to the cloud, how do we address the ever-critical question of database performance?