Steve Jones (@way0utwest), Grant Fritchey (@GFritchey), and I are often asked to predict trends in technology, especially at the end of the year. This year we were asked about the kinds of challenges and trends, especially for monitoring and DevOps, that will be seen for database professionals in the near future.
Just like the answer to everything is 42 or “it depends,” the answer to these questions, in my opinion, all involve the word “cloud.” Many organizations have taken advantage of cloud services for a decade, and more will follow.
The use cases for cloud computing are endless. For example, virtual machines in the cloud could be used for development, CI/CD pipelines, “lift and shift” of complete solutions, training, legacy database support (SQL Server 2008 R2!), and much more. While many VM solutions resemble those on-premises, there are also state-of-the-art serverless components for web applications, powerful machine learning and IoT (internet of things) offerings, DevOps platforms, and a plethora of database systems, to name a few.
The available technology choices are vast, and some offerings are especially useful for migrations or hybrid architectures. There are, however, many questions that must be asked when a company is thinking about moving production systems or sensitive data to the cloud. For example, how does the security infrastructure work for the chosen provider? Consider Azure which has Azure Active Directory that can extend to your on-premises directory, granular resource permissions with Role Based Access Control, and the ability to add guest accounts to give rights to someone outside your organization temporarily. A few other areas to research are high availability and disaster recovery options, scalability, and, of course, how to control costs.
Migrating databases to the cloud has its own set of challenges. Say that you want to stay with the SQL Server family of databases. You first must decide how much control you need (infrastructure as a service vs. platform as a service). Then scalability, performance, availability, and costs must be considered to choose the best SQL offering. You might want to check out the Azure Database Administrator Associate certification. Even if you are not interested in the certification, several comprehensive, free online classes associated with it cover all the Azure SQL options.
You also need to figure out which tools and services the providers offer to help you migrate. Microsoft Azure has the SQL Server Migration Assistant and Azure Database Migration Service to find compatibility issues and minimize service disruptions during the moves.
Once some or all databases are migrated, they still must be monitored. A solution that shows you both your on-premises and cloud databases in a “single pane of glass” like Redgate’s SQL Monitor can help simplify this complex situation and ease the transition. You can see the status of your entire estate at a glance, drill down to find the root cause of performance issues, and stay proactive with customizable alerts.
I predict that more database workloads will move to cloud platforms like Azure SQL over the next few years. Database professionals should prepare by learning about the options today because you never know when your job will change.