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7 risks associated with migrating a database to the cloud (DBaaS)

January 26, 2023.

Migrating a database to the cloud is an increasingly popular option for organizations looking to improve their data management and reduce costs.

According to figures from IDC (International Data Corporation), two out of three companies have already begun the migration process, and most others plan to do so within the next three years. However, as with any major change, migration to database-as-a-service (DBaaS) comes with some risks that must be carefully considered. Without sufficient vigilance and risk mitigation, such a migration can lead to cost overruns and delays, and as a result, the expected business benefits are slow to materialize.

We explore seven of the most significant risks associated with migrating a database to the cloud: security, compliance, sovereignty, data integrity, performance, cost and lock-in. We also provide information on how to mitigate these risks and ensure a successful migration. By understanding and addressing these risks, organizations can access the benefits of cloud databases while minimizing potential negative impacts.

Security 

One of the biggest concerns when migrating a database to the cloud is security. Data stored in the cloud is more exposed to hacking, breaches and unauthorized access. To mitigate these risks, companies should ensure that their DBaaS provider has robust security measures in place, such as encryption, multi-factor authentication and regular security audits.

Compliance 

Companies that store sensitive data, such as personal or financial information, must comply with regulations such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS or GDPR. If the vendor does not meet these necessary regulatory requirements, migrating a database to the cloud  poses a risk for the company.

Sovereignty 

Data sovereignty, which is becoming increasingly important due to new data regulations, is the concept that data is stored and managed in specific geopolitical locations. When a company migrates its database to the cloud, it might not control where its data is stored and processed, which exposes it to the risk of non-compliance with data-sovereignty laws. To mitigate this risk, companies should ensure that their cloud provider offers storage and data processing in pre-specified geographic locations.

Data Integrity

When migrating a database to the cloud, there is a risk of data loss due to human error, system failures, and other unforeseen mishaps. To mitigate this risk, companies should have a disaster recovery plan in place and regularly back up their data.

Performance 

Migrating a database to the cloud can also lead to performance issues, such as slow query times and network latency. This can be due to improper configuration, insufficient resources, or lack of monitoring and optimization. To mitigate these risks, organizations must work closely with their service provider to ensure proper configuration and sufficient resources.

Cost 

The costs associated with using a DBaaS might not be obvious over the medium- to long-term. Pricing models are not always transparent and price increases can creep in. Also, expectations of performance optimization can prompt a company to ask the supplier to increase the input/output operations per second (IOPS), the computing power or the memory size, quickly leading to cost increases and significant repercussions over the long term.

Lock-In

When an enterprise migrates its database to the cloud, it becomes dependent on a DBaaS provider to store and manage its data. This can lead to being locked in to a situation where the technology is proprietary, meaning that the company cannot easily move from one provider to another without significant cost or disruption. The data becomes trapped in a solution, to so speak. To mitigate this risk, companies should choose a cloud provider that offers flexibility and allows for easy data migration. It is also recommended to avoid the use of proprietary cloud tools that do not effectively support data replication to other platforms.

To summarize, migrating a database to the cloud has many benefits, such as cost savings, scalability, and increased accessibility, but it also comes with some risks that must be considered and mitigated. Companies should choose a cloud provider that offers robust security measures, compliance with necessary regulations and the ability to store and process data in specific geographic locations. In addition, companies should have a disaster recovery plan in place, regularly back up their data and work closely with their cloud provider to ensure proper configuration and sufficient resources. While risks properly speaking are not a sufficient reason to shy away from DBaaS, it is important to consider them up front, understand them thoroughly, and mitigate them as part of a carefully considered migration strategy.
 

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