Cloud-Based vs. Traditional Databases: Which One is Best for Your Data Needs?

An illustration of a cloud-based and traditional databases. The banner reads: "Which one is best for your data needs?"

Databases are used for the storage, management, and access of massive volumes of data. They are applied to support numerous applications and procedures by enterprises of all sizes and industries. Not all databases, however, are created equal. Depending on the data demands and preferences of the users, different types of databases offer varied features, benefits, and downsides.

One of the primary distinctions between databases is whether they are on-premises or in the cloud. Traditional databases are installed and run on local servers or computers. In contrast, cloud-based databases are hosted and managed via the internet by a third-party cloud service provider. Both types of databases have benefits and drawbacks that affect performance, cost, security, scalability, and customization.

According to Statista, as of September 2023, Oracle was the most prevalent database management system (DBMS) in the world. It is followed by MySQL and Microsoft SQL Server. These three DBMSs are classic databases that have been widely used for decades. However, the popularity of cloud-based databases has grown quickly in recent years. Gartner reports that the DBMS market expanded to more than $91 billion in 2022.Cloud DBMS accounts for 68% of the growth. Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Microsoft Azure, MongoDB, Redis, and Elasticsearch are some of the main cloud-based DBMSs.

In this blog, we will evaluate and contrast traditional and cloud-based databases for various data demands. We will explain what they are, how they work, and what their advantages and disadvantages are. In addition, we will present some criteria and recommendations to assist you in determining which form of database is ideal for your data needs.

Traditional Databases

Database management systems (DBMS) are traditional databases that are installed and run on local servers or workstations. They store data in specified tables and columns and retrieve and change the data using a structured query language (SQL). Traditional databases include MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server, and others.

The Benefits of Traditional Databases

  • Faster data access and delivery: Because they are not affected by network latency or congestion, traditional databases can provide quick and dependable data access and delivery. They can also enhance data retrieval and manipulation by using indexing, caching, and other approaches.
  • More control over data integrity and management: As users are able to design the data types, restrictions, relationships, and rules that govern the data, traditional databases provide them with more control over their data. Transactions, backups, and recovery procedures can also be used to assure data consistency and durability.
  • Traditional databases are not dependent on an internet connection or a cloud service provider to function. They can operate autonomously on local servers or computers, unaffected by external circumstances like network failures, security breaches, or service disruptions.

The Disadvantages of Traditional Databases

Traditional databases, on the other hand, have significant disadvantages that limit their applicability for some data needs.

  • Higher initial and ongoing costs: Traditional databases necessitate customers purchasing, installing, and maintaining their own hardware and software infrastructure. This can result in significant initial and ongoing expenses, as well as technological complexity and issues.
  • Traditional databases have limited scalability and flexibility, making it difficult to handle enormous volumes of data or abrupt surges in demand. They frequently necessitate customers scaling up their physical resources or partitioning their data across many servers. Both of these may be costly and complex. It's a struggle to accommodate new or changing data requirements. This is because they rely on fixed schemas and structures that are difficult to adapt.
  • Inability to handle all kinds of data: Traditional databases are meant to store and process structured or relational data, such as numbers, text, or dates. They are unsuitable for storing and processing unstructured or non-relational data such as photos, videos, audio, or social media posts. They also struggle with big data, which is distinguished by high data volume, velocity, variety, and veracity.

Databases hosted in the cloud

Cloud-based databases are database management systems (DBMS) that are hosted and administered over the internet by a third-party cloud service provider. They keep data in a cloud storage tier that can be accessed from anywhere at any time. Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Microsoft Azure, MongoDB, Redis, and Elasticsearch are some of the most popular examples of cloud-based databases.

The Benefits of Cloud-Based Databases

Cloud-based databases have grown in popularity in recent years because they provide various data management benefits.

  • Reduced operating and capital costs: Cloud databases eliminate the need for customers to buy, deploy, and manage their own hardware and software infrastructure. They also provide variable pricing methods, allowing users to pay just for the resources they use and scale up and down as needed.
  • Greater scalability and flexibility: cloud-based databases can easily handle massive volumes of data as well as abrupt increases in demand. Users can also select from a variety of data formats and types, including relational, non-relational, geographic, time series, and others. They also support a variety of data processing and analysis techniques, including SQL, NoSQL, MapReduce, Spark, and others.
  • Integration and processing, simplified: cloud-based systems make it easier to process unstructured or large data. Unstructured or non-relational data, such as photographs, videos, music, or social media posts, can be stored and processed in cloud-based databases. They also allow users to use big data, which is defined by high data volume, velocity, diversity, and veracity. They can connect data from numerous sources and use the cloud to do advanced analytics and machine learning.

The Disadvantages of Cloud-Based Databases

While cloud-based databases come with many advantages, there are several limitations to their applicability for some data needs.

  • Slower data access and delivery owing to network latency or congestion: The operation of cloud-based databases is dependent on an internet connection and the cloud service provider. This can result in delayed data access and delivery, particularly for applications that demand real-time or near-real-time data. Users may potentially experience network outages, security breaches, or service disruptions that compromise the availability and reliability of their data.
  • Control over data integrity and management is weakened. Cloud-based databases entrust data management to the cloud service provider. This can limit users' control over their data because they must rely on the provider's policies and procedures for data security, backup, recovery, compliance, etc. Data moving or transferring from one cloud provider to another, or from the cloud back to on-premises systems, may also present challenges.
  • Dependence on an internet connection and a cloud service provider: To function, cloud-based databases require an internet connection as well as a cloud service provider. This means that users must rely on external sources for their data management requirements. Users may also suffer vendor lock-in difficulties if they use proprietary or incompatible cloud provider technology or services.

Last Thoughts

We've seen that traditional and cloud-based databases offer different data management features, benefits, and downsides. The optimal form of database is determined by the users' data requirements and preferences. Here are some criteria or questions to consider when determining which sort of database is suitable for your data requirements:

  • How much and what kind of data do you have? 
    A traditional database may be preferable if you have a small amount of structured data that requires fast and consistent access. A cloud-based database may be preferable if you have a vast amount of unstructured or massive data that requires complex analysis and processing.
  • How quickly do you need your data to be accessed and delivered? 
    A conventional database may be preferable if you require real-time or near-real-time performance for your data. 
  • How much power do you want over your data? 
    If you desire additional control over the integrity and maintenance of your data, a traditional database is the best choice. A cloud-based database may be preferable if you are ready to entrust your data to a third-party cloud service provider.
  • How much money are you willing to put into your database system? 
    A traditional database may be preferable if you can afford costs of your own hardware and software infrastructure. A cloud-based database will suit you best if you wish to save money on operational and capital expenses.

Additional Recommendations

  • If you own a small business with a modest quantity of structured data that needs to be retrieved and sent quickly and reliably, such as customer records, inventory, and so on, you may prefer a standard database, such as MySQL or SQL Server, for transactions.
  • If you are a large organization with a vast volume of unstructured or big data that needs to be merged and processed from numerous sources, such as social media posts, photographs, videos, audio, or sensor data, a cloud-based database such as AWS or GCP may be preferable.
  • If you are a medium-sized firm with a mix of structured and unstructured data that requires both speed and flexibility, such as in e-commerce, gaming, or streaming applications, a hybrid solution that mixes both types of databases, such as Azure or MongoDB, may be a good fit.

About Us

Flat Rock Technology has been a reliable partner for companies around the world for over 15 years now. Managing data effectively is both crucial and intricate. When it comes to addressing your data requirements, Flat Rock Technology stands as your most reliable partner. Our array of data services encompasses everything from data analytics to data warehousing. We provide a comprehensive solution for transforming raw data into invaluable insights that will empower your company to unlock its full potential. Contact us today!

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