5 Things a Business Person Should Think About When Considering DBaaS

Nathan Biggs (@nathanbiggs), CEO

Many organizations that we talk to at House of Brick are excited about the vision and promise of Database as a Service (DBaaS). At a high level, this includes self-service automated provisioning of application-ready database servers that are fully configured and deployed on your infrastructure. What we have found, however, is that DBaaS involves much more than deploying new technology. There are key people and process concerns that, if not considered, introduce far more risk into your implementation plans.

Below are a few topics we routinely discuss with our customers. The answers let us work together to provide the consulting that they need to implement a rock-solid DBaaS strategy:

1. Is your organization DBaaS ready? (btw…that is not a technology question!)

DBaaS is as much a people and process consideration (if not more so) than a technology implementation. Here are some intermediate questions to help you decide if your organization is ready.

  • Do the silos in your IT organization work well together or is there infighting and territorialism?
  • Do you have a strong, effective working relationship with the business units that you provide IT services for?
  • Have you designed a service catalog for the business units that focuses on Service Level Agreements (SLA) rather than architecture specs?
  • Have you committed to a 100% virtualization strategy?
  • Are you ready to empower IT groups and business units to make self-service requests that are fulfilled automatically?


If you shoehorn DBaaS automation technologies into an organization that is not Cloud ready, then you will not achieve the vision, or experience the benefits of Cloud computing. Instead, it will continue to be business as usual, but with more headaches for people to work around.

2. Do you have the right people on staff for DBaaS?

Traditionally, IT staff could pick a silo in which to work exclusively. The DBA would request services from the network, storage, and infrastructure teams, but would never cross into those domains.

Cloud computing and DBaaS are bringing a convergence in many areas. We are using converged infrastructure for the host, and we are using converged tooling for management. Next you need to consider converged IT staff.

For Cloud computing and DBaaS to be successful you need at least one, and ideally a whole group of professionals, who have converged expertise across all disciplines (DBA, Storage, Sys Admin, Architecture, Network, Security, Virtualization, etc.). This convergence of expertise will allow them to quickly diagnose and solve problems without finger pointing from other groups. It will also help in architecting solutions that are appropriate for the business because they consider all aspects of IT.

3. You can do this in your own datacenter without paying a public cloud provider

Database as a Service does not require swiping your credit card at Amazon, or any number of other public Cloud providers. You can start in your own datacenter. The first step is to make sure that you have a virtualization strategy that includes your business critical systems. Automation and self-service can then be done incrementally as the organization proves ready.

4. Despite what many software vendors are saying, DBaaS tools are still immature

Geoffrey Moore identified a chasm in the technology adoption lifecycle between the early adopters and the early majority customers. We look at a lot of tools and a lot of customers, and in my opinion, nobody has yet crossed the DBaaS chasm. If you want to know why I think that has not happened yet, re-read the topics in this blog post.

5. Have you figured out how your Oracle or Microsoft licenses will be impacted by your DBaaS implementation decisions?

Your Oracle, Microsoft, or other software licenses probably cost you more every year (by several times) than all of your hardware put together. If you’re not careful, a poorly architected Cloud strategy will absolutely blow your software licensing costs sky-high. I have good news for you though – that does not have to happen. Spend some time understanding your actual agreements to see where you have to pay licensing fees. Then carefully architect your DBaaS plans to minimize license costs. House of Brick can help you with consulting in this area, or you can read the excellent blog posts on this site that deal with licensing issues (especially Oracle).

DBaaS is an exciting new idea that is getting a lot of buzz. As with all new technology trends, there are some innovators and early adopters that are paying the price of figuring out the hard stuff so that the mainstream customers can have it easier later on. I hope that in reading this post, however, you understand that DBaaS, and Cloud computing in general, involves far more than technology. In order for your DBaas strategy to be successful, you must also consider the people and process components with equal if not more weight.

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