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Database as a Service (DBaaS) vs. Data APIs - Explained

Mar 15th, 2021|


Databases are at the core of data-driven applications. Among the different types of available database deployment options, the usage and popularity of cloud databases and DBaaS (Database-as-a-Service) offerings have been growing like never before. According to a recent ResearchAndMarkets.com report, cloud databases are the fastest-growing segment of cloud services, projected to generate $320 billion by 2025.
Imagine that you’re building a brand new app and need to get it to market as quickly as possible. You don't have the time or resources to worry about hardware procurement, software installation, configuration, and ongoing maintenance. Managed databases enable you to reduce this operational overhead using a set of simple API calls or with just a few clicks on the UI to spin up and manage databases.
With managed databases, enterprises are not bogged down by the "grunt work" of managing costly physical database infrastructure, mitigating security risks, scaling, storage, and other operational costs such as additional human capital to keep the service up and running. As a result, developers can devote more time to critical tasks, such as improving developer agility and innovating, leaving the rest to the provider running the managed database service.

What is Database-as-a-service (DBaaS)?

In a nutshell, DBaaS is a cloud-based database service that includes everything needed to run a database in the cloud, including hardware, software, licenses, support, and operational maintenance. As a result, users can quickly spin up and run distributed databases that live in the cloud, paying only for the time they use them. Using DBaaS have several key benefits -
  1. Cost effectiveness – Setting up physical infrastructure for building an application is one of the most significant expenses. It is also time-consuming which requires a dedicated workforce to set up, maintain and support on-premise infrastructure. With DBaaS, all these costs and resources are handled by the service provider. Enterprises using DBaaS solutions are charged based on their consumption.
  2. Improved scalability – If you have Database infrastructure that you manage, you need automation in place to ensure scaling based on traffic. This is where DBaaS is most effective. With DBaaS, you don't need to purchase any additional capacity of infrastructure or have automation and management in place for hypothetical future needs -- the provider continually expands or shrinks your storage capacities and compute resources based on traffic. Additionally, with autoscaling turned on, you can remove the grunt work of complex capacity planning. With this additional flexibility, you will be able to meet both surging demands and periods of low activity.
  3. Rapid development – With a DBaaS model in place, data operations are highly simplified. Unlike traditional on-premise database systems, developers don't need to go through the time-consuming database provisioning process, which can take days or weeks. Rapid on-demand database provisioning using DBaaS and better integration with other data solutions in the cloud can drastically shrink the time to market for a new app feature.
  4. Better data and application security – Meeting regulatory compliance requirements can be a challenging and costly affair. DBaaS solutions provide enterprise-level data security, which meets specific regulatory compliance standards like HIPAA (for health industry), FedRAMP (for defense), NERC CIP (for electrical power infrastructure), etc. DBaaS solutions also provide native security features like data encryption to protect sensitive data at rest and in transit.
DBaaS is an effective way to get your database up and running quickly. Still, it will not automatically solve your application architecture issues. Additionally, if your application is tightly coupled with a DBaaS service, it will be challenging to move your application to another DBaaS service in the future. This is where a Data API approach is beneficial.

What is a Data API?

Data APIs provide a way to loosely connect the frontend application logic directly to a DBaaS or similar system through a secure and fast-scaling API with a standardized query and response format. In fact, by using an API-based approach, you can break the tight coupling of the application from the database so that you can benefit from the reusability of the data and portability of your code.
While DBaaS significantly disrupted the world of database management, Data APIs represent the next evolution in how applications are built. With data APIs, you get the same power of a DBaaS, along with other unique advantages such as data safety, security, and scalability characteristics. For example, Fauna is a Data API that is provisioning-free, configuration-free, and available instantly as a serverless utility. This allows an enterprise to deliver limitless capacity and throughput, so that modern applications can perform under unpredictable loads.
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