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Leveraging a DBaaS to reduce costs and build scalable applications

A DBaaS can streamline the database management process, giving development teams back resources to focus on the things that really matter – like building real-time applications that scale.

Steve Tuohy website
Steve Tuohy
Director of Product Marketing
November 9, 2023|7 min read

The pandemic turned the economics of goods versus services into headline news as experts tried to anticipate the unprecedented disruption to the world. In 2020, when many of us were stuck at home, demand for goods like computers, home exercise equipment, and kitchen appliances took off. When things started to return to normal, the pendulum swung to services, reflecting pent-up demand for dining out, live music, and generally letting others provide the effort and the entertainment.

In the enterprise software world, customers selecting “as-a-service” offerings – like SaaS, Iaas, Paas, and SECaaS – weigh similar tradeoffs. For consumer services, we assume we will pay more to compensate the service provider for their time and expertise. That is often the case, but sometimes a trusted service will help you save money, like a 24 Hour Fitness membership versus building a home gym. Business-to-consumer (B2C) products and services don’t always make for great analogies to business-to-business (B2B), but for a database user, the benefits of a DBaaS have several similarities to those of consumer services. In this article, we’ll look at how a DBaaS can help companies meet their larger goals while also reducing their cloud costs.

What is a DBaaS? Your favorite full-service restaurant

Before we examine its impact on a company’s capabilities and costs, let’s clarify what we mean by a DBaaS. Databases generally are defined as software, and you may think of database costs as simply the software license. But to realize value from the database, you’ll need to run it on some type of hardware, configure it, manage it, and integrate it with the applications it powers. An effective DBaaS can reduce or even eliminate many of these often hidden costs.

The “as a service” part is the database’s easy button, removing all that additional complexity and cost. Perhaps you’re familiar with Software-as-a-Service (Saas) but not DBaaS. Just as a database is a kind of software, a DBaaS is a type of SaaS. Many of the same cost dynamics affect both.

Much like dining at your favorite restaurant as opposed to cooking at home, a DBaaS likely comes with some added costs, but you don’t have to buy the groceries, prepare the food, set the table, do the dishes, or even own your own kitchen!

Whether it’s the Olive Garden or The French Laundry, you ask, “How can going to my favorite restaurant save me money?” Let’s take a look.

Staffing: Developers, database operators, and personal chefs

The first way that a DBaaS can reduce your costs – and your cloud costs specifically – is by saving you time. You may have a hard time convincing your spouse that daily restaurant trips are a time-saver and, thus, a money-saver, but this is often the reality when you’re saving database operations and developer time with a DBaaS.

You may drop $500 a person at the French Laundry, but that might be a bargain when you think about growing your own white asparagus, training to be a world-class cook, renting a Napa Valley kitchen, or just hiring a personal chef.

This is where the analogy fails, and business economics differs from home economics. The cost of personnel and their time are highly quantifiable (whereas that concept is a bit squishier for most households and their budgets).

Staffing and training, and gaining expertise on the database, in addition to having an in-house team for managing and monitoring the database, is very time-consuming. Staffing and database management overhead is a big place where DBaaS can reduce your cloud spend.

Hardware efficiency: RAM, SSDs, Pelotons, and the gym

The next area that a DBaaS can reduce costs is infrastructure, particularly compute costs. Modern, distributed databases run on multiple servers, i.e. cloud compute instances. With the wrong database or without database expertise, it’s easy to spend an enormous amount of money on the compute side, either too many or the wrong mix of instances. A good enterprise database makes efficient use of the compute infrastructure. Aerospike’s patented Hybrid Memory Architecture (HMA), for instance, provides similar performance with 90% fewer computing resources by optimizing the use of memory and SSDs. A good DBaaS goes even further by selecting the specific compute instances.

One alternative to selecting a DBaaS is to manage a database and the compute instances on your own in a public cloud. Another alternative is an on-premises database deployment. One of the basic drivers of cloud adoption has been the ability to get started without a large hardware or data center infrastructure investment. A DBaaS deployment typically has the lowest cost entry point to get started.

Setting up and managing your own enterprise database is like building your home gym, filling it with a Peloton bike, a treadmill, and a Jacked Up Power Rack. This is your basic do-it-yourself (DIY) database management. There’s a market for that, but sometimes, a monthly gym membership makes more sense and saves you money. That’s a DBaaS approach.

Figure 1: Managing your own database – and building your own gym – is not necessarily a cost saver.

In the early months of the pandemic, many people saved money when they were unable to spend on their gym memberships, a consumer service. But to fill that exercise gap, many looked to home gym equipment like a Peloton bike. While that monthly gym bill can get expensive, the DIY gym cost can far eclipse it, especially if you buy the wrong equipment.

Optimizing like an expert: Database expertise and your tour guide

Similarly, a good DBaaS gives you the built-in expertise of an experienced database operator, ensuring the proper setup and configurations of the database for a given use case. Aerospike Cloud, Aerospike’s DBaaS offering, defaults to the optimal computing configurations based on years of customer experience, particularly from its cloud managed service. Related to the two prior points, a DBaaS will save you the time of figuring out what works and what doesn’t and making the best decisions for networking, instances, security, and more to save money. When your needs grow, a DBaaS should seamlessly scale in tandem.

In this example, the DBaaS is like hiring a tour guide. Travel is another service area that’s surged as the pandemic has receded. While paying for a guide comes at a cost, you can learn from their experience to enjoy the sites, make the most of your visit, and potentially find cost savings that would be unavailable or difficult to find for independent tourists.

Speed to market: Eliminate setup time and the trip to the grocery store

Don’t get me wrong. I love to travel without a guide and make my own discoveries. Businesses, though, typically prefer a fast solution. With a DBaaS, you can be up and running in minutes. On-premises or self-managed deployments can have a much slower setup and configuration as users learn on the job. Most businesses would rather focus on building their product as fast and effectively as possible to get it into their customers’ hands. Every hour of delay in doing so can be lost opportunities.

Just like a grocery or meal delivery comes at a cost, it can be a game changer for busy professionals and families alike, helping them be more productive at work and at home.

Who doesn’t like a free trial?

Another way a DBaaS can be a cost saver is when it’s free. If you have existing credits with AWS, Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure, you can typically apply them to DBaaS usage. This is akin to the free perks like music and movies for Amazon Prime members.

Just as we choose restaurants, gyms, and travel guides to make our lives better and easier, adopting a DBaaS can let you focus on your bigger priorities. By skipping the DIY approach, the automation of a DBaaS can optimize your database management, accelerate your business’s time to market, and ultimately slash costs.

The best part is it’s fast and easy to try. Experience the power of Aerospike Cloud, the DBaaS option from Aerospike, offering a real-time database solution at scale.