Making Databases Elastic in the Cloud

    As cloud computing evolves, IT organizations are finding that the biggest challenges they face are finding ways to scale databases across the cloud.

    The vast majority of the databases installed today were never intended to dynamically scale. To make these systems work in the context, database administrators have had to ‘shard’ the database to make it scale. The problem with database shards is that not only are they difficult to get right, but they are hard to manage on an ongoing basis.

    The folks at Clustrix, a provider of clustered databases that are deployed on an appliance, think that a better approach would to create a MySQL-compatible database platform that can scale by dynamically adding new nodes. The database automatically discovers each node and then redistributes data to optimize performance based on the policies defined by the IT organization. Dan Liddle, head of marketing and business development for Clustrix, says this approach eliminates the need for sharding the database.

    One of the tenets of cloud computing is that data management needs to be elastic. But if the underlying data management system isn’t capable of truly supporting that, what you wind up with is a lot of cloud-ready IT infrastructure that doesn’t have all that much to do, especially when it comes to running mission-critical applications.

    It’s still the early days of cloud computing, so most IT organizations have not begun to think through their overall data management strategies in the cloud. And yet, when it comes to cloud computing, data management is the single biggest impediment to adoption.

    Given all the financial pressures to adopt cloud computing, IT organizations are going to be under a lot of pressure in 2011 to start solving these issues. And more than likely, that may require a new approach to building and maintaining the underlying data management system.

    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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