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AWS users 'prefer self-managed databases'

March 20, 2014

Some of Amazon Web Services (AWS') most advanced users have been explaining their solutions for managing databases on the platform, with many stated they favour self-managed options over Amazon's managed offerings.

This was one of the key takeaways from a series of presentations as part of the inaugural meeting of the AWS Super Users Online Meetup Group, Tech Target reports, which saw a majority of the speakers say they run databases such as Cassandra and MySQL on the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), rather than using Amazon's Database as a Service (DBaaS) platforms, such as the Relational Database Service (RDS) and DynamoDB.

Jack Murgia, director of operations at online social learning platform Edmodo, was one of the speakers with experience of both sides, as he explained the opportunity to hand over the management of its database to AWS was highly appealed when the firm was still in the startup phase.

The firm migrated to RDS in 2011, with Mr Murgia praising the ease of setup for this. He observed the company was able to create development and quality assurance environments in just a few clicks and scale up as the firm's load increased.

However, the company encountered issues with operations such as multi-availability-zone failover and, with the database having eight replicas and each one taking around an hour to make, downtime was a concern for Endodo. Therefore, when it had the internal expertise to do so, it made the decision to switch back to a self-managed MySQL solution.

Mr Murgia said moving to a managing database is a "trade-off" businesses have to think about. He added: "Perhaps you don't have the skills, perhaps you're a small startup, so it's fine, but as you start to gain those skills and start to raise your standards of performance and availability, that's going to become an issue."

Other speakers at the event also highlighted some of the beneficial features of NoSQL database Cassandra over its managed alternatives. Joey Imbasciano, cloud platform engineer with Stackdriver, cited the simpler costs of Cassandra in comparison with AWS' DynamoDB.

He described DynamoDB's cost model as "pretty complicated", noting: "It makes it hard to estimate what the service is going to cost you until you get pretty far into a prototyping phase."

VoltDB raises $8m to boost big data solutions

March 19, 2014

Some $8 million (£4.8 million) has been made available to support the arrival of new next-generation solution to manage the growing volumes of business data.   VoltDB has announced it has secured the sum following discussions between a Silicon Valley luminary, two further investors and existing stakeholders.   The money will be used to enable the company to better support new smart applications that tap into some of the most important and innovative technological trends of the time, such as big data and the Internet of Things.   VoltDB is aiming to improve its sales and marketing operations, while it is also aiming to achieve global expansion. It currently has more than 400 commercial customers and these will be targeted with its upcoming range of highly effective solutions.   It is proud of its "no compromise" attitude when it comes to design, which ensures clients receive the world's most powerful platform. And it is not just power that is a priority of the firm's, as it also seeks to achieve unparalleled speed and capacity.   Bruce Reading, chief executive officer at VoltDB, said: "Organisations everywhere are looking to drive competitive business value from new big data applications that can consume, analyse and act on massive amounts of dynamic data in real-time."   He went on to suggest this is "exactly what VoltDB was built for", so it is no surprise the company is now witnessing demand for its products from every single part of the world.   "This new round of funding will enable us to expand to serve this growing customer base," Mr Reading stated.   Forbes recently explained that new trends within the technology market are changing the data landscape, with data warehouses now required to be more agile and innovative than ever before.   VoltDB's customers are known to utilise its in-memory architecture in order to run their everyday operations, whether they are mission critical applications, transportation systems, electricity management or advertising networks.   The company has often been dubbed the father of modern relational database technology.

Internet of Things 'to transform' how firms manage data

March 18, 2014

A huge influx of information into businesses' data centres as a result of the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to fundamentally transform the way companies store, manage and analyse their data.

This is according to Gartner, which predicted that by 2020, there will be 26 billion items in use around the world that are able to generate data and by that time, IoT product and service suppliers will generate more than $300 billion in revenue.

Fabrizio Biscotti, research director at Gartner, said these deployments will create huge amounts of information, much of which will have to be processed and analysed in real-time.

He added: "Processing large quantities of IoT data in real time will increase as a proportion of workloads of data centres, leaving providers facing new security, capacity and analytics challenges."

As well as the physical and hardware challenges that this will create for businesses, the software tools firms use to manage their growing digital assets will need to be reviewed closely. For instance, database solutions will have to offer extremely fast performance and high levels of scalability in order to cope with the increased demands they will be under.

Because much of the information being generated by IoT items will be unstructured, how this is organised and managed within databases will also be a consideration that must be taken into account.

Taking advantage of technology such as cloud databases may also be highly useful for businesses, as Gartner suggested the amount of information could overwhelm traditional data centres and connectivity options.

Joe Skorupa, vice-president and distinguished analyst at the firm, said: "IoT threatens to generate massive amounts of input data from sources that are globally distributed. Transferring the entirety of that data to a single location for processing will not be technically and economically viable."

IoT is set for a major push in the next few years and it has the backing of several governments as a way to boost the global economy. Earlier this month, UK prime minister David Cameron announced his country would be investing £45 million of funding into research for the technology.

Virtualised DR plans 'key to speedy recovery'

March 17, 2014

When it comes to protecting a business' critical information from serious problems, a strong disaster recovery and business continuity (DR and BC) plan is a must. But in today's environment, companies have more options available to them than ever before when it comes to safeguarding their essential data, so choosing the right tools requires close attention.

One option that should be given serious consideration is virtualised solutions. It was recently noted by Paul Evans, managing director at Redstor, that more organisations are looking to embrace cloud solutions and enjoy the benefits that this brings.

He explained in an article for CRN that traditional BC plans could mean firms spend large amounts of money on physical tools such as tape backups and shipping these to remote locations.

"But in the event of a disaster, accessing stored data off-site is expensive, stressful and time-consuming compared with a virtualised disaster recovery service," he said

DR solutions that have been virtualised can replicate all of a business' critical applications and operating systems, as well as access the most recent data from the cloud, in order to ensure a business is able to remain up and running should it suffer problems such as hardware failure, human error or natural disasters that knock its primary environment offline.

But the key difference with cloud-based tools are the speed at which they can be brought in, which can occur almost instantly and keep downtime to a minimum.

This should be one of the most important factors firms need to consider when planning a DR strategy, as the longer they are out of action, the less likely a successful recovery becomes - and even if firms do get back online, the financial and reputational losses could be huge.

"When disaster strikes at the primary location, it takes time to recover the data, investigate and resolve the problem, and build in safeguards against it happening again," Mr Evans said. "Meanwhile, the IT manager may be under pressure to get the systems running again as fast as possible so the business can function."

However, many firms may still not fully appreciate the importance of fast recovery, as recent figures from the DR Preparedness Council reveal 73 per cent of respondents said they did not have sufficient measures in place to ensure they would be able to recover in a timely manner.