What is Database Hosting?
A hosted database is a database that uses third-party servers to store and maintain your application’s database. Database hosting services are often run on the cloud – a term that refers to computer system resources for data storage and computing power delivered on-demand, without the need to be actively managed directly by users. Large cloud providers distribute these resources between many locations, referred to as data centers. So, in the way that many companies offer Software-as-a-Service (“Saas”), you can think of database hosting services as being “Resources-as-a-Service.” Because these services allow organizations to scale their databases as needed, it eliminates the need for organizations to purchase and manage servers on their own – especially if you aren’t sure what kind or how much storage you might need. Many database hosting companies also offer a suite of management tools.
What are the Benefits of Third-Party Hosting Services?
Database hosting began as an alternative to managing an on-site database server in a “traditional” environment – that is, using computing infrastructure purchased and maintained by the organization itself. Early adopters quickly realized that off-site storage comes with a host of benefits, which quickly changed the paradigm of database infrastructure management to what it is today.
Users who decide to host their databases with third party organizations have the ability to customize their servers, as well as use other services for support and maintenance. This means that configurations can be changed easily to address problems, or scaled to deal with increasing demand, and later scaled down during off-season periods. The advantage here is that users aren’t paying for resources they don’t need, or aren’t using for long periods of time.
Another advantage is that additional resources are always available, which means that users will never have to suffer from downtime while waiting for in-house infrastructure to be scaled to their needs. In addition to this, most hosting providers will include monitoring and fail over response plans – meaning that, even if an entire data center goes down, your database can be quickly and easily spun-up at another location with very little interruption to service.
What Types of Databases can be Hosted?
There are two main types of databases: relational databases, and non-relational databases, often referred to as NoSQL (owing to the fact that they do not use any form of Structured Query Language). While relational databases are most common and have been around for a long time, NoSQL databases quickly gained popularity due to their ability to meet specific needs like storing gaming application data.
Both database types can be hosted and most major database hosting services support them equally well, which means users are free to choose which type of database best suits their needs.
What Should You Consider When Looking for Database Hosting Services?
While we’ve already outlined some of the major benefits of third party hosting, there are a few other factors to consider when deciding whether to host a database locally or to outsource this to a database hosting provider.
Cost is often a deciding factor for many organizations, and while costs for hosting databases can vary depending on the amount of storage and computing requirements for a specific database, as well as any additional security and monitoring needs, it is almost always more expensive to host databases on-site versus through a third party. This is due to the cost of hardware and software, electricity, space, and network connectivity. Additionally, organizations should consider the cost incurred by outages with no failover plan in place. While planning for failover with on-site hosting effectively doubles the cost, this can be accounted for automatically by third parties with little to no extra cost to the user.
Security is the next major concern for most organizations. Self-hosting is often better for companies that require maximum security and control over users and monitoring. While third party database hosting organizations are often flexible and have security tools and services, they will have limitations. If, for example, the database is intended to store sensitive information on behalf of the government, database hosting may not be feasible due to the security and restrictions required.
An organization’s technology stack may also be something to consider when deciding how and where to host their databases. While most modern database hosting providers support all kinds of technology stacks and are mainly concerned with their database configuration, it’s worth making sure that all parts of the tech stack will be supported and work smoothly within their target database hosting environment.
Who Should Host Your Database?
There’s no shortage of database hosting providers all over the world. The major players that you are probably already familiar with are Google Cloud Services, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon Web Services. There are also many smaller providers as well, but one thing to keep in mind is that the larger providers offer a wide range of products and services to go along with their database hosting services. It might be worth looking into each of them depending on your organization’s specific needs – especially if you feel you have a niche product.
The large hosting providers mentioned above are great for large organizations or technology firms, but can have a high barrier to entry for small businesses or organizations that are not technology focused or don’t have the resources to devote to having an internal employee set up and manage their account. In cases like this, it’s best to seek out companies that offer Database hosting as-a-service. While companies that offer database hosting are providing the hardware and infrastructure, as well as technology to manage the database, they do not usually offer step-by-step customer service and account management. This is where database hosting as-a-service comes into play. Companies that offer this include a subscription based service which allows you to offload administrative tasks such as setup, scheduling backups, migrations, and installing updates. Companies who offer this will often support major cloud providers such as AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure, and can provide plenty of flexibility in the way your database is hosted and managed.