As time passes we see more functionalities of an application move towards the cloud. This has been the case for databases too. The top Cloud service providers like Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and more have invested heavily in releasing multiple managed cloud database software over the years. This year is not going to be any different either. We will continue to see more organizations move to the cloud and the cloud providers to expand on the database services they provide. 

In today’s article, we will look at the concept of a cloud database, what was the reason for its rise, and how people are adopting it. We will also explore some of the best DB providers and why are they gaining the market share. So, let’s dive in. 

What is a Cloud Database

A cloud database is a database system hosted and managed on the cloud. Apart from working as traditional database systems, they are capable of utilizing the features of cloud infrastructure like scalability, fault tolerance, and the vast amount of cloud computational power the service providers have to offer.  These types of databases have other names such as Database as a Service ( DBaaS), or a Fully Managed Cloud Database. 

Unlike traditional DBMS, the managed solution on the cloud takes care of all the needs from hosting, scaling, taking backups, ensuring availability, and even automated database optimization processes. Consumers are also provided the option to connect their databases to other services like the data analytics engine, advanced monitoring dashboard and reporting services, and more. These features would otherwise not be implemented in self-hosted database systems.

Key Features of Database as a Service

Though there are many differences between various cloud providers, there are several features that are common to all of them, and let’s discuss them first. 

1. Reduced Initial Investment Cost and Maintenance Cost

Building an on-premise data center is very expensive as the hardware costs a lot. Apart from that, it is also very expensive to maintain a data center or a database server. By using cloud services, not only does the initial investment reduce substantially, but it is also cheaper to maintain. Most cloud services provide a pay as you go model. So, you will only pay for the servers you use with the option to increase it anytime you want. Hence, there is very little wastage in terms of hardware resources.

2. The ease of setting up a Hybrid Database System

Most applications today cannot be achieved with only an RDBMS. NoSQL databases have since helped to build a more robust application giving rise to hybrid databases. Cloud providers have made it extremely easy to build and maintain these Hybrid systems. Connectors, APIs, and GUI based interfaces allow all kinds of users on the consumer side to spin up instances, manage the communications between these systems, and monitor them all in a single place.

3. Unlimited Scalability and High Performance

As data grows, the database needs to scale to accommodate the new data. At the same time, they must not lose the minimum performance requirement. A cloud database can solve both these problems: 

  1. Database as a service providers have vast data centers that are expanded periodically. This ensures that consumers can continually scale their infrastructure to suit their current needs and expand to only what is needed. Not only that, the service allows them to scale is down when data or demand reduces.
  2. Cloud providers have data centers all around the world. They maintain a lot of redundancy to ensure the performance and availability never dips. Thus, this allows consumers to go global and maintain the performance metrics in all places. It would not be possible with either self-managed or on-premise data centers.

4. Administration is simplified

Fully managed or even autonomous database systems on the cloud don’t eliminate the roles and responsibilities of a DBA. It rather simplifies it because the database administrators can focus on the critical tasks of keeping DB performance at optimal conditions. As DBAs, we focus our attention on ensuring the DB design aligns with the organization’s goals, and the queries are tuned properly. 

Top Cloud Database software in 2021

Let’s look at some of the cloud providers, their databases, and the features they provide.

1. Microsoft Azure Cloud Databases

Azure cloud databases are not the leading DB provider. However, they are one of the fastest-growing ones. With more people trying our Azure as their cloud partner, they have begun to use their databases as well. Azure does not provide a wide variety of scenario-based tuned databases. It’s DB suite consists mainly of three types of databases

  1. SQL Database – It provides options like Azure’s default SQL database to other alternatives like MySQL, MariaDB, and PostgreSQL.
  2. NoSQL Database – Azure has it’s Cosmos DB by default but gives options to port to MongoDB or Cassandra.  
  3. In Memory DB – Azure Cache for Redis is the solution that consumers can choose to get low latency scalable in-memory database. 

2. Amazon AWS Databases

AWS is the market leader in terms of cloud database provider. One of the reasons for this is that they have a large variety of high-performance databases tuned to specific needs. Apart from that, they have also made it very powerful by connecting it to their other services like analytics, reporting, and monitoring. For the organizations, they have made it very simple to host their enterprise database and get the highest level of data security.

Types of Databases AWS provides: 

  1. Relational Databases – Amazon Aurora, RDS, and redshift that can be used with traditional applications with structured data.
  2. Key-Value store – The Dynamo DB is one of the most high-performance databases used frequently in the gaming domain applications. 
  3. Graph-DB – AWS Neptune is used in recommender systems and even in fraud detections. 
  4. NoSQL database – Called the DocumentDB, it provides all the tools required to model complex unstructured data with MongoDB compatibility. 

These were just the major ones. Apart from those, AWS also provides other databases like time-series DB that used to store telemetry data from IoT devices, and even In-Memory and wide column databases. 

3. Oracle Autonomous Databases

As a company centered around building and shipping enterprise databases, Oracle has invested a lot to build their autonomous cloud database system. They had the vision to build a database that scales with a minimum effort. To achieve minimum effort, they automated a lot of processes that businesses would have to manually perform. 

Tasks such as Database provisioning, scaling, patching databases for vulnerabilities, and even tuning has been automated on Oracle’s Cloud database. Another set of critical tasks such as failure detection, recovery from backups and even repairing the databases have been automated. These features take away the burden from the consumer decreasing manpower and cost. 


We have seen the top three databases as service providers that exist today. Each has a different focus and they have come with services that align with their individual goals.  While some have tried to give a breadth of features, others have focused on making a small set of databases the best it can be. 

Of course, these aren’t the only providers; IBM, Google, MongoLab, and many others have their own offerings but they haven’t seemed to have caught up with the others. With more features, we can probably see them gain more market share in the near future. For now, the top three look like they have established themselves with many organizations running their entire database infrastructure on the cloud. 

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