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Top Five Cloud Databases

SQL Azure, Amazon RDS and others....

Cloud Storage is an important aspect  of a successful Cloud Migration.  Hence any migration of enterprise applications to Cloud  either Private or Public,  would require a stronger database platform in support.

Again the database needs will differ according to the  Cloud  Service Model.

In this service model Cloud Consumer may not worry about the underlying database as its implementation is  hidden, however the Cloud Provider needs to worry about the appropriate choice of Cloud Database to meet the agreed QoS  of the Software Service. Probably as a consumer of Google Gmail  you may not be worried about the underlying database platform.

As  IaaS  Providers needs to  have a catalog of database servers, it could be   more of existing  popular database servers  being  served over the cloud platform. For example Amazon EC2 provides a catalog of major databases including :

  • IBM DB2
  • IBM Informix Dynamic Server
  • Oracle Database 11g
  • MYSQL Enterprise

In this model, as a cloud application development consumer your interest in the proper database support in support of cloud enablement matters most. For example better the features served by the PaaS platform Cloud database more the chances the application is highly scalable on Cloud.

Some of the databases  that come under the PaaS category where the database features have been exclusively tailored  for Cloud are listed  below.

Microsoft SQL Azure is a multitenant cloud-based relational database built on the SQL Server engine.  SQL Azure offers the same Tabular Data Stream (TDS) interface for communicating with the database that is used to access any on premise SQL Server database. As a result, with SQL Azure, developers can use the same tools and libraries they use to build client applications for SQL Server.


  • A true cloud database with much of the administrative activities taken care by the platform and scalable


  • While touts to be just another version of Sql Server but there are differences in functionalities
  • Space limitations to be addressed in future versions

2. Amazon RDS

Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) is a web service that makes it easier to set up,

operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud. It gives you access to the full capabilities of a MySQL 5.1 database running on your own Amazon RDS database instance.


  • While RDS in itself a PaaS platform, it can be bundled as part of EC2 IaaS offering to make it flexible for the customers.


  • But for the features like ‘Read Replica' the Scalability options are yet to mature
  • Tools like App Fabric ( Of Azure Platform) to migrate the existing data and applications need to evolve

3. Google BigQuery

BigQuery is a web service for querying large datasets. It supports very fast execution of select-and-aggregate queries on tables with billions of records. It is a  PaaS  based database service, which is scalable and support SQL like syntax.


  • While most of the cloud databases have size issues, You can execute queries over billions of rows of data.
  • It is compatible with the Google Storage as the persistent mechanism


  • While it supports SQL like syntax for querying it is still unstructured and non relational and enterprise applications may not utilize this design for storing their data, BigQuery does not currently support joins.
  • New learning curve unlike SQL Azure or Amazon RDS which utilizes existing database interfaces

4. Amazon Simple DB

Amazon SimpleDB is a highly available, scalable, and flexible non-relational data store that offloads the work of database administration. Developers simply store and query data items via web services requests, and Amazon SimpleDB does the rest. It avoids complex database design and administration but rather keeps the data access really simple.


  • Good choice for low end needs and is in line with rest of Amazon AWS strategy
  • Cost effective and flexible


  • All Amazon SimpleDB information is stored in domains. Domains are similar to tables that contain similar data. You can execute queries against a domain, but cannot execute joins between domains. So not conducive for enterprise class database design needs which involves heavy normalization of tables (Domains)
  • Locking and Performance tuning options are limited

5. Other Big Enterprise Databases In IaaS Or ‘Cloud In a Box' Mode

Oracle 11g : While Oracle is yet to release some thing equivalent to SQL Azure, however Oracle 11g is available as part of the cloud platform and  Cloud Appliances, which makes it a  candidate for the Cloud databases.

  • Oracle Exadata Cloud Appliance : The Oracle Exadata Database Machine is the only database machine that provides extreme performance for both data warehousing and online transaction processing (OLTP) applications, making it the ideal platform for consolidating onto grids or private clouds.
  • Amazon EC2 : Amazon EC2 enables partners and customers to build and customize Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) with software based on needs. In that context oracle 11g is available as one of the AMI options.

DB2 : While DB2 is yet to release some thing equivalent to SQL Azure, however DB2 11g is available as part of the cloud platform and  Cloud Appliances, which makes it a  candidate for the Cloud databases.

  • Websphere Cloudburst Appliance : WebSphere CloudBurst V2.0 includes support for a virtual image that contains DB2 9.7 Data Server for WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance. A 90-day trial of the DB2 V9.7 Enterprise Data Server for WebSphere CloudBurst virtual image is pre-loaded in the WebSphere CloudBurst V2.0 catalog .
  • Amazon EC2 : Amazon EC2 enables partners and customers to build and customize Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) with software based on needs. In that context IBM DB2 is available as one of the AMI options.


  • No need to elaborate on how good these enterprise class proven databases


  • While the appliances meant for private cloud have a price tag associated, enterprise databases as part of EC2 IaaS platform still requires administration and other maintenance typical of these enterprise databases.

More Stories By Srinivasan Sundara Rajan

Highly passionate about utilizing Digital Technologies to enable next generation enterprise. Believes in enterprise transformation through the Natives (Cloud Native & Mobile Native).

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