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Is it time to move your databases to the cloud?

John Moore | Oct. 8, 2014
Faster time to market increasingly drives firms of all sizes to move their databases to the cloud. Options range from managed services to more of a databases-as-a-service. Even companies used to rolling their own technology solutions are drawn to cloud databases.

Cloudant, meanwhile, lets firms "develop far more quickly and get into production far more quickly," CEO Derek Schoettle, adding that the faster pace comes with less risk and cost than a do-it-yourself database project.

Forgoing the DIY route, Akamai now taps several clusters of Cloudant capacity to back its API management application.

Put Database in Cloud, Focus on Core Competencies Instead
Technical resource constraints were initially the main issue at eVestment, an Atlanta-based company that provides an institutional investment database and SaaS-based analytics tools for investment analysis. The eVestment service includes datasets on more than 34,000 traditional investment vehicles and more than 25,000 alternative strategies such as hedge funds.

Six years ago, when eVestment was a smaller company, the main drivers for cloud hosting were economies of scale and scope with respect to resources, CTO Mitchell Johnson says. The company retained INetU for managed hosting services. The arrangement covers eVestment's network, servers, storage systems and databases.

Johnson says INetU's experience in areas such as storage-area networking and database optimization helped make the case for hosting. "To have specialists in each of these areas would have consumed quite a bit of our budget."

Today, eVestment has grown to the point where it could host its infrastructure internally but Mitchell says the original motivation for hosting externally continues to hold sway. "We are large enough, but those advantages still exist. I'd rather focus on our core competencies building software and big data solutions for institutional investors."

The need to obtain specialized help for implementing NoSQL databases also contributes to the rise of cloud database services. eVestment runs Microsoft SQL Server and MySQL on the relational database side, but has added Redis to its database portfolio. Redis is a key-value store, a subset of the NoSQL technology category. The company also uses Elasticsearch, an open source distributed search engine, in a NoSQL analytics capacity.

"We have come to rely on Redis and Elasticsearch quite extensively as the size of our datasets have grown," Mitchell says.

Relational technology remains important, but he notes that client demands for real-time responsiveness and fast page-load times coupled with the need to work with enormous data sets calls for a different type of database. He says Redis is much faster than SQL, noting that eVestment uses Redis to provide distributed session management and caching across several physical application instances.

Mitchell says that adding the Linux-based Redis implementation to what had been a Microsoft-centric, relational database environment might have caused some staffing concerns as an in-house project. He says the company would have had to think about obtaining new resources experienced in Redis or cross training existing personnel. Instead, eVestment relied on INetU's resources.


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