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The case for a public cloud database in a hybrid, multicloud world

Hybrid Data Management Product Marketing Manager

In the years leading to 2020, public cloud databases were commonly seen as “dev/test” environments for applications living on-premises. And while this use case is important and should continue to be implemented across IT functions, businesses must expand more workloads into cloud to realize monetary and operational benefits. However, a common question permeating every public cloud discussion has held some businesses back: “How secure is public cloud?”

Enterprise IT organizations will have sensitive data and workloads that require an on-premises server or a private cloud operating behind their firewall. But they must also identify workloads to offload to a fully-managed cloud database. There are numerous cloud options and configurations that support highly sensitive data, from single tenant servers and isolated networks to data centers that support data locality requirements. Data security should always be of the highest priority; however, it shouldn’t hinder your ability to become a more agile organization.

The case for a public cloud database in a hybrid, multicloud worldSecurely build cloud-native applications

Applications born in the cloud, also known as “cloud native applications,” are more agile and scalable due to practically limitless computing power, on-demand scalability of resources, and DevOps support.   With a cloud database, applications can collect valuable data that drives better market insights and customer interactions, just to name a few benefits. Still, this means sensitive data will often be gathered, which requires teams to review local and global data regulations and ensure their public cloud supports certain legal requirements.

If your team deems public cloud as the route for development, use a cloud database that commits to securing your applications and provides functional, infrastructure, operational, and network security, going above and beyond the physical security components of your database. One example is IBM Db2.

With Db2, database instances can be deployed on public cloud through IBM Db2 on Cloud, on private cloud through IBM Cloud Pak for Data, and through an on-premises server with the standard Db2 Enterprise Edition. Organizations can incorporate multiple Db2 deployments into their architecture and let the common SQL engine federate the data sources, helping applications work both on-cloud and on-premises. These extensive data virtualization capabilities improve load balancing, increase scalability, and enable microservices to work together.

If public cloud cannot be used, remember that private cloud is another viable option. Consider using a private cloud that runs on a containerized platform and supports any other cloud, whether private or public.

Design a highly available information architecture with public cloud failover

A vitally important component of security is ensuring the IT stack is prepared to handle server failures, natural disasters, and any unforeseen issue that may cause the on-premise or private cloud system to shut down. Implementing a public cloud failover option allows businesses to continue operating, while working to get the central server online.

Seek a cloud database like Db2 that offers a 99.99 percent uptime SLA, seamless failover which enables a second server to immediately take over if the primary server fails, and offsite, geo-replicated disaster recovery nodes that mitigate the risk of prolonged disasters or outages affecting specific regions.

Develop and test applications on the cloud

Many organizations turn to public cloud databases to accelerate development time, lower operational costs, and test production-ready applications. By running the production environment on-premises and dev/test in the public cloud using a common SQL engine, your team will reduce migration costs while avoiding the risk of developers occupying CPU, storage, and network resources necessary for critical workloads.

The “dev/test” environment is commonly used among developers since personal information or sensitive data is not flowing through the application. However, if your team decides to run the production environment on public cloud, then identify a vendor that follows high security standards and auditing processes. With Db2 on Cloud Flex and Precise Performance plans on IBM Cloud and AWS, the following security standards are included:

  • ISO
  • HIPAA
  • SOC 2 Type 2
  • GDPR
  • Privacy Shield

IBM Db2 on Cloud also provides data encryption both at rest and in flight, and additional services, such as:

  • Data Protection – Daily backups, at-rest database encryption, and SSL connections
  • Private Endpoints – Traffic stays in the internal IBM Cloud network or your private network interface with whitelist functionality to limit database access to specific applications
  • Identity and Access Management – User authentication for platform services and access controls to resources including IAM enablement

Add to your hybrid information architecture with a reliable and always secure cloud database

Though some businesses fear public cloud, and hold out on migrating due to security, privacy, and performance concerns, the capabilities above make these concerns widely misplaced. Public cloud enables companies to be more agile by freeing up resources and time for DBAs and data scientists. Rather than maintaining and managing the on-prem database and data warehouse, they can focus on backups, recovery, and development.

When vetting public cloud vendors, list out your security requirements, review data center locations, and consider implementing private endpoints to connect to a private VPN network. And if your team needs the added security of an on-premise offering, remember to go with a vendor that supports and encourages hybrid IT. This will help remove data siloes and make communication from ground to cloud easier.

IBM Db2 on Cloud fits all of these requirements and is part of a robust network of integrated data management solutions.

More questions to help vet cloud vendors can be found in our cloud data management buyer's guide.

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