What is Cloud Database Management? Simplifying Database Administration in the Cloud

Databases are fundamental to today’s technological infrastructure, enabling efficient data storage and retrieval. With the growing adoption of cloud computing, organizations increasingly turn to cloud databases—a structured collection of information designed for easy access, management, and updates, accessible virtually. The global market for cloud databases and Database as a Service (DBaaS) is set for expansion, projected to grow from $21.3 billion in 2023 to $57.5 billion by 2028.

Cloud technology expenditure is forecasted to surpass traditional IT budgets by 2025. In this article, we define cloud database management systems, exploring their functionality compared to traditional databases. Plus, we explore advantages, challenges, various deployment models, and considerations to choose the right cloud database management system for your organizational needs.

Discover the convenience of DigitalOcean’s seamless database hosting, offering managed solutions for MongoDB, Kafka, PostgreSQL, MySQL, and Redis®. Engineered for rapid, scalable, and secure performance, our Managed Databases service handles setup, maintenance, daily backups, and automatic failover, allowing you to focus entirely on crafting exceptional applications. With effortless scalability and robust functionality at your disposal, your database requirements are addressed every step of the way.

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What is a cloud database?

A cloud database is a system hosted and managed within a cloud environment. Unlike traditional on-premises servers, data within a cloud database is stored and accessed via the internet. It’s accessible from any location with internet connectivity, an advantage for remote teams and businesses requiring flexible data access. Moreover, cloud databases have swift setup procedures and dynamic scalability, allowing seamless adjustments to accommodate evolving data requirements.

What is cloud database management?

Cloud database management refers to a specialized form of database management system tailored for operation within cloud computing environments. It equips users with the right tools, functionalities, and infrastructure essential to create, maintain, and secure databases within a cloud platform.

These systems offer traditional database management capabilities while leveraging the advantages of cloud computing, including scalability, accessibility, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness.

Difference between traditional database and cloud-based Database Management System (DBMS)

The key difference between traditional databases and cloud database solutions lies in where the data is stored and managed.

Traditional database

Traditionally, organizations established physical servers and installed Database Management System (DBMS) software to store and administer data. This method required substantial initial hardware, software licenses, and IT infrastructure investments. Ongoing maintenance, upgrades, and backups require dedicated staff and resources.

Cloud-based DBMS

Cloud-based DBMS eliminates organizations’ infrastructure management burden by providing a virtualized environment. Rather than procuring and upkeeping physical servers, businesses can leverage the infrastructure provided by cloud providers like DigitalOcean.

Types of cloud database management systems

Different cloud database management systems cater to diverse data storage and access needs. Here’s an overview of the leading cloud database options:

1. Relational databases (RDBMS)

Relational cloud databases are traditional database systems adapted for cloud environments. They excel in managing structured data with predefined schemas, using SQL server databases for data manipulation and retrieval. Examples include Amazon RDS, Microsoft Azure SQL Database, and Google Cloud SQL.

2. NoSQL databases

Designed for flexibility and scalability, NoSQL databases accommodate unstructured, semi-structured, and rapidly evolving data. They include several subcategories:

  • Key-value stores: Efficient for simple data retrieval using unique keys (e.g., Amazon DynamoDB, Azure Cosmos DB).
  • Document databases: Store data in JSON-like documents, which are ideal for flexible schema and unstructured data structures (e.g., MongoDB, Couchbase).
  • Columnar databases: Optimized for large datasets, proficient in querying specific data columns (e.g., Google Bigtable, Apache Cassandra).
  • Graph databases: Graph databases manage interconnected data and relationships, which benefit social networks and knowledge graphs (e.g., Neo4j, Amazon Neptune, Azure Cosmos DB with Graph API).

3. NewSQL databases

These bridge the scalability of NoSQL with the transactional guarantees of RDBMS, aiming to deliver optimal performance for demanding applications. Examples include CockroachDB, TiDB, and NuoDB.

4. Time-series databases

Time-series databases are optimized for handling extensive streams of time-stamped data, commonly employed in applications such as sensor data, logs, and IoT. Examples include InfluxDB, TimescaleDB, and Amazon Timestream.

5. In-memory databases

Prioritizing speed, in-memory databases store data in memory, making them suitable for real-time applications requiring rapid data retrieval. Examples include Redis, Memcached, and SAP HANA.

6. Wide column stores

Tailored for extensively distributed datasets, wide-column platforms offer scalability and adaptable schemas for efficiently managing vast data volumes. Examples include Apache Cassandra and Google Bigtable.

7. Database as a Service

Representing a managed service model, DBaaS involves cloud providers assuming responsibility for infrastructure, maintenance, and scalability, freeing developers to concentrate on application development. DBaaS allows users to leverage various types of databases, such as relational databases and NoSQL databases, offered by providers including DigitalOcean Managed Databases, Amazon RDS, Azure SQL Database, and Google Cloud SQL.

5 key components of cloud database management

Cloud database platforms comprise a collection of components that work together; handling data processing and management. Here are the key components of a cloud DBMS:

1. Ensuring storage integrity

Ensuring storage integrity in cloud databases involves safeguarding stored data. Firewall protection monitors incoming and outgoing website traffic. Additionally, stored data must undergo encryption, converting it into an unrecognizable code, ensuring accessibility solely to authorized users. This combination of measures fortifies data security and integrity within cloud storage systems.

2. Managing data access

While access to information is vital for employees, it must be controlled. Business owners determine access levels based on job requirements, ensuring only authorized personnel access sensitive data. Authentication processes verify users before granting access, preventing unauthorized extraction.

Documenting data transactions facilitates auditing, enabling tracking of changes and attributing them to users if necessary. Moreover, implementing access controls scans devices for viruses and malware, improving overall system security.

3. Securing data transmission

Securing data transmission in cloud database systems involves establishing a secure and encrypted channel between users and their devices. This precautionary measure prevents interception and unauthorized access to transmitted data. Use firewalls and virtual private networks (VPNs) to safeguard data in transit.

4. Validating arriving data

Validating arriving data in cloud database systems is essential to ensure its integrity and authenticity. Staff members should conduct data integrity checks upon receiving data to confirm its accuracy and legitimacy. This practice minimizes the risk of infections and data breaches, including phishing attacks, where malicious actors attempt to deceive recipients into disclosing sensitive information or downloading malware through fake emails.

5. Backup and data recovery strategies

Despite preventive measures, unforeseen accidents and cyber threats can occur. Establish consistent data backup mechanisms and efficient recovery procedures to swiftly and accurately restore lost data. Maintain backups across multiple cloud accounts to enhance data recovery capabilities.

Advantages and disadvantages of a cloud DBMS

Numerous advantages and drawbacks are associated with cloud database management systems. Some key benefits and challenges include:


  • Enhanced access: Cloud-based systems facilitate seamless access to data via mobile devices, enhancing user convenience and productivity.
  • Scalability: Cloud databases offer rapid scalability, efficiently accommodating increases in data assets and user base expansion without compromising performance.
  • Performance optimization: Automatic alerts enable timely optimization of indexes and access patterns, ensuring optimal performance levels are consistently met.
  • Reliability: Automated replication and backup processes minimize concerns about single-point-of-failure, enhancing overall system reliability and data security.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Cloud DBMSs often come with lower setup costs than on-premise databases and offer lower ongoing expenses through a pay-as-you-go model, reducing financial overhead for businesses.


  • Limited control: While not a concern for many organizations, some may feel constrained by the “one platform fits all” approach of some cloud service providers when looking for customizations. For instance, migrating from an existing on-premises database environment or a custom database solution built within a specific cloud provider’s ecosystem (e.g., AWS Relational Database Service) can be complex and time-consuming. This lack of granular control over database configurations or difficulty in integrating with existing infrastructure can hinder adoption for organizations with unique needs.
  • Vendor dependence: Once an organization is using a Cloud Service Provider (CSP), it can be complicated to move to another cloud service due to reliance on the original cloud provider’s proprietary applications your infrastructure may rely on.
  • Internet connection requirement: Unlike on-premises databases accessed by intranet, an internet connection is necessary to access cloud databases. If there is an internet service outage, users may be unable to access cloud databases for a particular period.

Key features to look for in a cloud database management system

When assessing cloud databases for implementation, organizations should assess a number of key factors—from scalability to performance. Here are essential features to look for:

  • Scalability: A vital feature, scalability enables seamless adjustment of cloud database capacity to meet fluctuating data demands. This capability mitigates the challenges posed by unpredictable data volume shifts, minimizing manual intervention and optimizing resource allocation for enhanced efficiency.
  • Supporting multi-tenancy: Many cloud DBMSs embrace multi-tenancy, a software architecture facilitating multiple independent application instances within a shared environment. This model ensures data isolation and security for diverse users or applications, while efficiently utilizing the same underlying database infrastructure.
  • Reliability, availability, and accessibility: An effective cloud DBMS incorporates robust mechanisms for ensuring high availability and data redundancy. These include automated backups, failover, and replication features. Additionally, cloud databases offer unparalleled accessibility, facilitating seamless data access for distributed teams, remote workforces, and organizations requiring global data availability.
  • Security measures: Cloud DBMSs offer several security features to safeguard data, including protection for data at rest and in transit. These include authentication, authorization mechanisms, and encryption protocols, ensuring comprehensive data security.
  • Automation capabilities: An effective cloud DBMS streamlines operations by automating repetitive tasks like patching, backups, and software updates. This functionality optimizes task management, ensuring efficient operation and alleviating operational burdens on IT teams.
  • Resource management: A good cloud DBMS comes with tools that help make sure your database runs smoothly. For example, it helps your database use its resources (like memory and processing power) efficiently so that tasks like searching and sorting through data happen quickly and without hiccups.
  • Performance optimization: Cloud database management systems offer performance monitoring tools to track database performance, including query execution and resource usage. Using these metrics, users can analyze and strategize for better database performance.

Build your company with DigitalOcean’s Managed Databases

DigitalOcean’s Managed Databases solution enables seamless database management, allowing developers and small and medium-sized businesses to focus on core application development. Our service provides several tools for deploying and maintaining popular database solutions like MongoDB, PostgreSQL, MySQL, and Redis. We also have many database tutorials and guides to help you work with different databases (for example, here is a tutorial on migrating Redis data to DigitalOcean).

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For online database resources, check out our community articles and user guides and ask and answer questions in our Q&A forum.

Key features of DigitalOcean Managed Databases:

  • Exceptional scalability: Expand resources as needed to accommodate business expansion. Flexibly adjust database clusters, scaling CPU, RAM, and storage capacities at will. Increase operational efficiency by effortlessly integrating additional nodes.
  • Complimentary daily backups: Safeguarding your data is a priority. Hence, we ensure automated daily backups, allowing restoration to any point within the preceding seven days.
  • Automated failover mechanism: In the event of an operational hiccup, Managed Databases transfers data processing to a standby node, mitigating potential downtime.
  • Swift and dependable performance: Operated on enterprise-grade hardware, Managed Databases deliver rapid performance.
  • Holistic security measures: Databases operate within your account’s secure private network, accessible solely to whitelisted requests via the public internet. Data transmission and storage are encrypted, ensuring comprehensive protection.

We’ve been growing up with DigitalOcean—we started with 2 people and now have nearly 70 and have 20,000 users across 25 countries. We used DigitalOcean’s SSD-based Droplets to start with, and once DigitalOcean launched Managed Databases we were quick to switch to those as well.” - Juan Pablo Seijo Carretero, CTO, Clientify

With a focus on scalability and efficiency, DigitalOcean’s Managed Databases are an ideal solution for businesses looking to optimize their development workflows while leaving the complexity of database management to cloud experts.

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