Oracle Magazine spoke with Carl Olofson, research vice president of application development and deployment at International Data Corporation (IDC), about the latest innovations in database management technology.
Oracle Magazine: What are the key capabilities organizations look for in an enterprise database?
Olofson: Availability, scalability, manageability, and performance are always important, but what really differentiates today’s database products is simplicity of management. Any features that make it easier for database administrators to do their jobs in less time with less complexity are extremely important. Today’s data centers often host hundreds of applications, each with a database and storage array, so you want to reduce the number of systems and the amount of storage you have to manage. Every routine task is an opportunity to make a mistake. Automation and simplicity are essential.
That’s the essence of the DBaaS concept. You pay for what you
Oracle Magazine: How are software vendors reducing complexity for database operations?
Olofson: One way is with cloud computing environments. These environments have three salient characteristics: elastic scalability, which lets you expand and contract databases at will; virtualization, so that you can move resources around in a fairly transparent way, such as from one server to another; and multitenancy, in which database servers can dynamically host multiple virtual database instances.
Private clouds let you manage your data center to obtain much higher utilization rates than you would with a traditional data center environment, where every database generally has its own server and storage environment. In those traditional cases, you have to allocate server resources to handle peak performance over the life of those servers, typically three to five years. If you have the flexibility to move computers and databases around so that you can pack them together or break them apart as needed, you can achieve utilization rates of 80 or 90 percent throughout the depreciation cycle. You get much more value for your hardware when you use this kind of cloud capability.
Oracle Magazine: How is multitenancy addressed at the database level?
Olofson: It isn’t very effective to combine multiple databases at the operating system level. The hypervisor doesn’t know what the database is doing and the database doesn’t know that it’s sharing resources with other databases or other processes, which leads to resource collisions. It is very tricky to obtain decent performance on a consistent basis.If the database is aware of the fact that it’s in an environment with other databases, then it can streamline the internal allocation of resources, including the way it handles database connections, the way storage is provisioned, and so forth.
Oracle Magazine: What is the state of database as a service [DBaaS], and how is this market evolving?
Olofson: We’re starting to see some DBaaS offerings on the public cloud. DBaaS is also useful for private clouds because most companies already have chargeback models for the resources that they offer to their users. This gives them a fairly straightforward way to associate database usage with the actual cost to the enterprise. They can offer fair provisions based on the actual resources consumed, whether it’s installed on big servers or small ones. That’s the essence of the DBaaS concept. You pay for what you use.
Oracle Magazine: How is the information explosion affecting database design, deployment, and performance?
Olofson: Many data warehouses are growing rapidly because we are putting more data into them than ever, and often bringing it in from other sources. You need a database that can support those characteristics—that can grow and shrink easily. In addition, since intensive query activities are usually focused on new data, it’s useful to have a database that automatically keeps frequently accessed data in memory—or in some near-line storage like flash—and less frequently accessed data on disk.