With Oracle’s entry into database-as-a-service and IBM’s recent acquisition of Cloudant, database-as-a-service has been a hot topic. As of March of 2014, DBaaS, an acronym of database-as-a-service, is still a term that has multiple definitions. When searching for the definition of DBaaS, the web returned multiple results and definitions. These results are consolidated here in this post.
How Experts Define “DBaaS”
Many experts have a different definition for the term Database-as-a-Service. Here are some definitions from various sources that I found insightful:
“An on-demand, secure, and scalable self-service database platform that automates provisioning and administration of databases and can be used by developers and nontechnical personnel.” – Forrester, October 2012
“DbaaS is nothing more than a focused realm within the greater field known as SaaS — it’s the delivery of database software and related physical database storage as a service… The provider is responsible for managing the service, without any requirement for the customer to maintain, upgrade, or otherwise administer their database.” – Steve Bobrowski, May 2008
“Database-as-a-service (DbaaS) is a cloud computing service model that provides users with some form of access to a database without the need for setting up physical hardware, installing software or configuring for performance. All of the administrative tasks and maintenance are taken care of by the service provider so that all the user or application owner needs to do is use the database…” – Cory Janssen, Techopedia.com
These three definitions have one common point: DBaaS is a service that alleviates its user of database administrative tasks.
Though it is clear that DBaaS should offer database administrative services, it is still unclear what kinds of services should be provided by a typical DBaaS provider. Maybe that’s why Google and Wikipedia returned different results when you search for the definition of “database-as-a-service” and “DBaaS”.
How Wikipedia Defines “DBaaS”
Interestingly enough, Wikipedia returned two different results when I searched for “DBaaS” and “database as a service”.
Searching “DBaaS” on Wikipedia
When you search for the term “DBaaS” on Wikipedia search, it will take you directly to the page about Platform as a Service, or PaaS. Wiki defines PaaS to include “facilities for application design, application development, testing, and deployment,” which are some ways how businesses actually utilize DBaaS. In general, Wikipedia defines PaaS as a platform that allows developers to deploy applications.
Searching “Database-as-a-Service” on Wikipedia
When you search for the term “database as a service” on Wikipedia search, it will take you to the page about Cloud Computing, and under the section Service Models is where you will locate database-as-a-service. Wikipedia cites Tony Shan’s Cloud Taxonomy and Ontology as its resource, which attempts to organize all cloud services into a dome diagram as seen below:
Source: Cloud Taxonomy and Ontology by Tony Shan, 2009.
As Tony suggested, database-as-a-service is listed as the same level as platform-as-a-service. This may be one of the reasons why Wikipedia takes you to the definition of PaaS when you search for DBaaS.
Though Tony’s diagram provided great information on the types of “as-a-Service” models for cloud computing, I still prefer to understand DBaaS from the three traditional cloud computing service models, which includes Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). The image from the same Wiki page on Cloud Computing suggests that database is part of the greater PaaS service model:
Source: Wikipedia, Cloud Computing – Service Models
Again, Wikipedia sees database as an essential component of the PaaS computing platform that allows developers to deploy their software solutions.
So What is Wikipedia Saying about DBaaS?
According to Wikipedia, there are two main takeaways for database-as-a-service: (1) it is part of the cloud computing service model, and (2) it is a core component of a platform that allows developers to deploy their applications on the cloud.
How Google Defines “DBaaS”
Just as Wikipedia, Google also returned different web definitions when you search for “DBaaS” and “database as a service”
Searching “DBaaS” on Google
I have been monitoring Google’s definition of DBaaS since January of 2014. Over this short period, Google has changed its definition twice.
We all know that Google usually gets its web definitions from Wikipedia for terms not found in dictionary. Not surprisingly, in February of 2014, a Google search on “DBaaS” returned Wikipedia’s definition of PaaS as shown below:
Notice how Google links to a Wiki page with a URL that ends with “/DbaaS”. This wiki page is the same exact page as the Wiki page of PaaS with a URL that ends with “/PaaS”. This may be one of the main reasons why Google thinks that “DBaaS” is similar to “PaaS”.
A same search on March 2014 returned the following result:
Even though Steve Bobroski’s blog post is still ranked number one in search engine result, Google’s suggested definition of DBaaS comes from ScaleDB.
Searching “Database as a Service” on Google
In February of 2014, searching “what is database as a service” on Google did not return a web definition of “Cloud Computing” as Wikipedia did. Instead, it listed information of Cloud Database from Wikipedia as Google’s web definition and as number one on search ranking, as shown below:
Using Wikipedia, Google defines database-as-a-service as a deployment model of Cloud Database. So instead of setting up database on cloud infrastructures themselves, users can purchase database services such as DBaaS to alleviate themselves from launching virtual machine instances for the database.
The same search on March 2014 returned the following result:
Even though the ranking of Wikipedia’s definition of cloud database did not move, Google now uses Oracle’s definition taken from Oracle’s whitepaper: “Delivering Database as a Service (DBaaS) using Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c”.
So What is Google Suggesting about “DBaaS”?
To me, these different search results simply mean that database-as-a-service is still a term that is undefined or not well-defined. Thus, I expect Google search results on these two terms to continue to change in the future.
How I think DBaaS Should be Defined
Even though the internet returned various definitions of these two terms, they all share certain similarities as listed below:
- It is part of the greater realm of cloud computing
- It is deployed on cloud infrastructures
- It is a platform for developers to deploy applications
- Various database administration tasks are part of the its feature/service
Using these, I’ve compiled my own one-sentence definition:
“DBaaS offers database services so applications can be deployed on the cloud, enabling users to focus on developing applications and services without worrying about the database and the scalable infrastructure beneath.”
That’s the short definition of DBaaS. I also wrote another post on a similar topic, which includes a more detailed definition and the database challenges of what DBaaS should solve.
What do you think? Do you have any other findings on how the internet defines these terms? Please comment and let us know!
How the Internet Defines Database as a Service in Spring 2014