It’s hard to innovate when nearly 65% of the IT budget is spent just keeping the lights on. Yet many organizations find themselves allocating a significant percentage of their annual budget on maintaining static IT infrastructure--facilities costs, hardware and software maintenance costs, licensing renewals, labor and housekeeping, etc. This leaves fewer resources available for innovating on strategic business initiatives like data mobility, business intelligence (big data), and “web-ifying” business applications.
One way to drive costs out of traditional IT infrastructure, and potentially regain some of these sunken budgetary dollars, is to adopt cloud-based solutions. According to ESG research, nearly 70% of businesses have adopted software-as-a-service (SaaS), like Salesforce.com, Workday, Office365, etc., and in so doing, have driven some of the above infrastructure costs out of their environment, while providing a better overall application service to their end-users.
So what other “as-a-service” technologies could businesses leverage to potentially reduce costs and improve application services levels while also gaining business agility and reducing their time to market? Database-as-a-service (DBaaS) offerings may hold strong promise.
The fully burdened costs of maintaining an on-premises software or application development environment can be daunting - test/dev equipment, networking infrastructure, software licenses, data center space, power/cooling, IT administrative support, operating system and application upgrades, patches, etc. Yet despite all of these investments, many businesses still find themselves outflanked by more nimble competitors that are able to get their products to market faster by leveraging the cloud.
One way to reduce a significant portion of application development costs is to utilize cloud-based DBaaS platforms to host database instances. According to Oracle, their DBaaS solution can be leveraged by businesses to reduce up to 35% of the costs of a similarly configured on-premises database platform, while eliminating all of the associated management and labor required to maintain an onsite database. This last point is worth stressing. If key IT personnel like database administrators (DBAs) and application developers can spend less time maintaining systems and more time innovating, the payoffs for businesses over the long haul can potentially be huge.
But ease of use is also a key component of any “as-a-service” offering. Oracle claims that today, users of their DBaaS solution can provision a database in their cloud with a few clicks of the mouse. On-premises and other competing cloud solutions, on the other hand, often take a dozen or more steps to configure and provision a similar database instance. In fact, Oracle states that they continue to invest heavily in their user interface technology to make using their cloud services extremely intuitive, even to the IT novice.
Given the fact that databases often hold a company’s coveted data, they are generally considered the most mission-critical aspect of a software deployment, so understandably there may be some skepticism when considering a cloud vendor who is not the company behind the database product. However, since Oracle is taking a lead in the cloud provider space, the risk for DBaaS is largely mitigated, as in this instance, the leading provider of on-premises enterprise database systems is also functioning as the cloud provider itself and supporting the service.
It’s also worth noting that Oracle’s DBaaS offering is not limited to use cases like test and development; this is merely the low hanging fruit for IT shops struggling with cost containment and seeking new ways to provide services more efficiently to their end-user constituency. Oracle also provides a variety of cloud based infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings that can be coupled with their DBaaS solution. For example, test and development environments can be deployed on lower cost commodity infrastructure like general purpose compute, storage, and networking resources, while full-blown production database instances can be optionally provisioned on one of their engineered system platforms, like Exadata, for extreme performance.
DBaaS can also work hand-in-glove with on-premises instance(s) of Oracle Database 12c (“c” is for cloud) to enable DBAs and developers to seamlessly port applications developed in the cloud to run in production on-premises. Alternatively, test/dev and production instances can all be run in Oracle’s cloud to enable even faster time-to-market of new business applications. This level of flexibility allows organizations to empower their lines of business to deploy their applications where it makes the most sense - on-premises and/or in the cloud.
Interestingly, Oracle is placing big bets on their cloud strategy. At their recent Analyst Summit in San Francisco, they disclosed that by the fall of 2015, nearly 95% of Oracle software products will be available in the cloud. And these bets seem to be already paying off in a big way. Of Oracle’s cloud ERP customers, 75% had never purchased an Oracle product before. And Oracle is seeing similar traction with their DBaaS offerings. It may be time for many others to hop on board the DBaaS express train to drive out recurring costs and drive in IT innovation.