What is a Managed Database?

The right managed database service frees your organization from the burden of managing its own cloud database resources, giving you more freedom and time to focus on what’s important to your business. Learn how to evaluate service providers, what capabilities you should demand, and the benefits you can gain from choosing a managed service provider that meets your needs.

Defining a managed database

The definition of a managed database is a database with storage, data, and compute services that is managed and maintained by a third-party provider instead of by an organization's IT staff.

Managed or completely managed? See how Oracle Autonomous Database eliminates nearly all manual labor.

The benefits of a managed database

With a self-managed database, your organization has to maintain the operating system and the database, which requires a level of internal expertise and skill sets for everything from end-to-end security to scaling. Maintaining a self-managed system may allow for control, but that control can present drawbacks such as increased costs over time, along with the need to devote time and staff to such tasks as managing schema design, patches, security, and access rather than to innovation and product design.

In contrast, a hosted database transfers the administration, management, and maintenance to a service provider. The provider is responsible for the setup, management, security, and scaling. In turn, your organization’s IT staff and developers can return to adding more business value via new application development and innovations. The heavy lifting of maintenance and support become the responsibility of the managed database service provider.

A managed database provides several benefits.

  • Reduced maintenance and administration. A self-driving database moves maintenance and support responsibilities to the service provider. Your IT staff will spend much less time troubleshooting, which frees them to add value in product design and application development.
  • Increased security. Database security is a complex task that is difficult to get right, as evidenced by damaging breaches constantly making the news. The best managed database service providers offer a multilayered, end-to-end approach to security in addition to making use of onsite cybersecurity experts who set up, manage, and can provide oversight for the following:
    • Access control systems
    • Application security
    • Continual threat monitoring
    • Continuous validation
    • Data redundancy
    • Encryption for data in transit and at rest
    • Mass file deletion protection
    • Network protection
    • Suspicious login and activity monitoring
  • High availability. A database management system is perfect for running applications that require reliable availability. A managed database, especially one in the cloud, can provide superior availability via the right architecture and tools. Choose your provider carefully, however: a poorly managed cloud database can be less available than an on-premises database.
  • Lower operational costs. The cost of maintaining, securing, and supporting infrastructure become the oversight of the cloud service provider handling the database management system. Data center upgrades and additions as well as the need to hire specialists to manage the new infrastructure will no longer be your budget issue. With a managed database service, the one recurring cost is reduced to a monthly subscription with the selected service provider.

Why have a managed database?

  • Reduce IT complexity
    A managed database helps centralize an IT infrastructure under one platform managed by a third party which can address current and future needs in terms of scalability, availability, and workloads.

  • Increase agility
    The right managed database can help increase your organization’s agility by providing the power and capability to react faster to changing conditions. This includes the ability to scale up automatically to meet spikes in demand or scale down when needed.

  • Cultivate a new environment for developers
    Digital transformation begins with plans for innovations and new applications. Choosing a fully managed database provider that offers automated services can eliminate the manual tasks some developers have to spend extra time either resolving or waiting for busy IT teams to resolve. Organizations can bring new products to market faster by having developers get back to what they do best: developing.

  • Optimize performance
    For organizations to gain a competitive edge, their database has to deliver ideal performance—around the clock. With a managed database from a third-party service provider, availability, reliability, and scalability can be automatically optimized and tuned—sometimes instantly rather than within hours if it’s a fully managed database with autonomous services. But beware of managed database providers who claim to offer this, and make sure you look at the fine print.

  • Gain cost efficiency
    When your IT department can provide databases that scale and provision as needed, your organization saves money. A fully managed database with autonomous services optimizes cost because organizations are paying only for a fraction of peak workload scalability when needed.

Fully managed versus self-managed

A fully managed database is completely administered by the provider, but not all providers offer fully managed services. Customers who partner with true fully managed database service providers do not have to monitor, manage, or maintain their own database the way they do in a self-managed data center. All troubleshooting and security are handled by the service provider, along with the patching and tuning that requires manual intervention in self-managed environments.

Selecting a managed database service provider

Choosing a cloud service provider for a managed database comes down to budget, data types, and goals. More importantly, consider the reputation of the managed database provider in the following areas:

  • Capabilities and goals
    A managed database provider should have a keen understanding of your organization’s needs based on your current setup. There should be no surprises. The provider’s capabilities should take into account data types being migrated to a managed database, organizational accessibility, and the current on-premises environment.

  • Customer success stories
    Consider providers who have experience in your specific industry. Healthcare and financial services organizations, for example, should look for a managed database service provider that has worked with others in their industry. Industry knowledge is an important success factor—and one that is gained only with experience.

  • Manageability
    The elasticity and configurability of a managed database are key reasons organizations are choosing third-party service providers. But the services need to be manageable all the time to deliver this benefit. Does the provider offer manageability SLAs to help ensure the ability to manage, monitor, and modify resources?

  • Performance
    It’s not enough for a managed database to be accessible. A managed database should consistently perform the way it is expected to. Consider service providers who can guarantee or maintain performance, even as workloads vary in terms of volume and types. The ideal managed database can accomplish continuous autonomous performance tuning, whereas less optimally managed databases will still require customer expertise and tuning

  • Security-first approach
    Risk is not acceptable when dealing with database systems. Make sure your provider is in compliance with standards such as System and Organization Controls (SOC) 2 Type II, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) regulations, and 23 New York Codes, Rules and Regulations (NYCRR) 500. Any provider you are evaluating should be able to comply with these tough standards.

  • Service-level agreements (SLAs)
    Organizations require more than just availability from their managed database. Workload demands also require consistent performance and the ability to manage, monitor, and modify resources running in the cloud at any time. Look for providers who offer end-to-end SLAs covering performance, availability, and manageability of services.

  • Track record
    Research and ask questions. What is the provider’s record when it comes to data breaches? How is the provider’s availability and uptime? How soon can the provider identify issues, and what is the provider’s standard for resolving issues with everything from uploads and file transfers to access?

While evaluating managed database service providers, there’s one simple question to ask before making a decision: What is actually being managed? See what compromises your organization must make and whether any work is required. Be sure to ask each provider about its level of automation and how that may affect your organization’s IT management and operations. Consider the following:

  • The updates and patches may be automated, but will your IT department have to pause the database—which takes time, expertise, and planning?
  • Cloud-based managed databases can scale up but may impose workload restrictions or may only support reading, not writing.
  • Performance tuning requires significant time and expertise, but many cloud-based managed database providers expect the user, not the provider, to tune the environment.

Not all managed database service providers offer the same capabilities, so check carefully to confirm what the provider will manage and what your organization will need to do in-house.

Database management and developers: a converged solution

Development today contributes in valuable ways to business growth and, at times, is about distributed app development. This could mean separate teams working at their own pace, using their own tools, languages, data models, and lots of potentially different databases to handle different services. Developers prefer to use their own tools and data so they can do what they want, use what they want, and get things done faster.

For the organization as a whole, this presents potential issues. Data that sits in separate silos creates inconsistencies across the board, making it harder to gain actionable insights. While developers are operating on their own projects and timelines, they may not have access to data that helps solidify their work. It may be because of data types that can’t be handled by their database or inconsistency in access.

A managed database that offers converged system capabilities—a multimodel, multitenant, multiworkload database that supports the data model and access method each development team wants—helps both developers and their organizations. It also helps to reduce operational costs. For example, developers using JSON can get access to other databases outside of their own based on data type. Users are not restricted to just one way of accessing their data; developers and other users can query JSON data by using SQL or can use a graph query to explore relationships and discover connections in data. If developers need to change data models, they can keep the same database in a converged model. Insights that are easier to gain lead to faster decision making on an organizationwide basis.

Why you should consider an autonomous database

Oracle Autonomous Database provides the benefits described above—and goes further to help enterprises improve business operations and reduce costs. The self-driving service provisions highly available databases, configures and tunes for specific workloads, protects sensitive data, and automatically scales compute resources when needed. Oracle Autonomous Database reduces operational costs by as much as 90 percent with a multimodel converged database and automation based on machine learning for full lifecycle management.

See how Oracle Autonomous Database fully manages and reduces operational costs.

Watch an introduction to Oracle Autonomous Database video
Watch an introduction to Oracle Autonomous Database