On-Demand Trend Touching the Database

With its SimpleDB beta, Amazon.com joins a number of other vendors interested in providing Web-based databases.

Web-based databases are slowly gathering steam in the marketplace, taking the data querying needs of organizations straight into the cloud.

The latest entry into this trend is Amazon.com, which announced Dec. 13 a limited beta for its SimpleDB service. However, others, such as Dabble DB and Trackvia, have also embraced an in-the-cloud model for databases.

One company, Kognitio, provides on-demand data warehousing. To Sean Jackson, the company's marketing director, the logic for such a service is simple.

"[Data-as-a-service] is driven by the fact that the business users cannot get what they need from their IT department in a timely manner," Jackson said. "By outsourcing their analytics and data warehousing requirements, organizations can get on with their projects, get the analysis they need fast and use that actionable intelligence to their advantage. DAAS is about disconnecting the business needs from the typical bottleneck of IT."

The U.K.-based company is preparing to open a North American office in Chicago, and will formally launch its U.S. activities in February, Jackson said.

A number of analysts interviewed by eWEEK said small and midsized businesses would be ideal targets for DAAS providers.

"Clearly, given the success of software-as-a-service, there are a number of businesses that see an opportunity for on-demand database functionality, but the market is far too immature to be picking winners and losers or adoption trends as yet," said Matthew Aslett, an analyst with The 451 Group.

By providing users the ability to structure data into domains and run queries, Amazon SimpleDB will be attractive to Amazon.com merchants and online startups looking to reduce hardware costs and software investments, Aslett said. Still, established enterprises aren't likely to migrate away from relational database management systems, he said.

"Enterprise DBAs need not worry about their livelihoods just yet," Aslett said. "Aside from the data security, privacy and reliability concerns, converting data from proprietary relational database extensions to SimpleDB's data model would be far too costly. That said, there is clearly interest in making use of distributed data management technology to reduce hardware and software licensing costs. If that interest proves widespread, existing database vendors and infrastructure services providers will be quick to respond."

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