Database as a service …

Let us jump in feet first into ‘database as a service’. So what do we mean by this ? We have three database platforms that we can provide ‘slices’ of to our business users. Oracle and SQL Server have been the traditional platforms we have built upon and Greenplum is something we have adopted quickly and which lends itself to ‘database as  a service’ very well.

How have we done this ? Tier, Consolidate, Virtualize

Of course, this has been a journey on its own merit. We started off by looking at the database tiering models required based on business criticality, required availability and I/O profiles. At EMC, we separate the mission criticalapplications and databases (as in revenue impacting and/or customer facing, typically with stringent RTO/RPO and data loss constraints) from the business critical applications and databases (impacting subprocesses vs enterprise processes).

To gain efficiencies of scale, we decided to consolidate mission-critical Oracle and business critical into 3 and 8 node Oracle grid architecture (and along the way reduced the number of Oracle versions from 9 down to 1). We also consolidated and virtualized a number of production and non-production databases for the business critical side. This consolidation and virtualization exercise resulted in the reduction of databases and database servers from 50+ to single digits. This has provided the basic technology foundation for implementing database as a service on the Oracle platform. The current environment provides us a mechanism by which a large environment can be sliced to service different needs at different points of time, with standardized and published service levels and predictable scalability and performance.

There is a very similar story on the SQL Server side as well. The guiding principles of tiering based on business criticality, consolidating and virtualizing stand out again. Mission critical and business critical databases are now offered on a consolidated architecture, and the non-mission critical databases have been virtualized – all in all faster provisioning and better utilization. EMC IT has derived a number of other benefits in doing this.  20+ servers were eliminated through this process. SQL databases have grown to more than 2000 in the past three years without increasing any support staff, licensing costs have reduced by using Enterprise Editions and  up to 50% reduction in database storage requirements through compression.

By establishing a shared technology foundation, we have achieved the ability to provision more from the platform and in a more agile manner. In addition, the Oracle and SQL Server tier/consolidate/virtualize exercises have resulted in cost savings and cost avoidance of over $5M based on server replacement costs, decreased need for new capacity addition and  labor cost reduction.

The new kid on the block is Greenplum. Greenplum is a massively parallel database explicitly meant for large scale analytical processing. We are starting to use Greenplum as the next generation analytical database and will be standing up a “Business Intelligence as a service” offering for our business units shortly. This functionality is based on the ability to load, partition and provide ‘sandbox’ instances in a very quick manner.

So what next ?

We continue to focus on automating the seamless delivery of the database instances to further turn the dial on the agility, and in addition to provide this on a self-service basis. Another drum we continue to beat is to meter and measure the usage of the service from a business perspective and the appropriate chargeback model for the usage. The best is yet to come, so stay tuned  …

About the Author: KK Krishnakumar