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Cloud Databases

Learn more about data organization in the cloud.

What is a cloud database?

A cloud database is a database service built and accessed through a cloud platform. It serves many of the same functions as a traditional database, with the added flexibility of cloud computing. Users install software on a cloud infrastructure to implement the database.

Key features

  • A database service built and accessed through a cloud platform
  • Enables enterprise users to host databases without buying dedicated hardware
  • Can be managed by the user or offered as a service and managed by a provider
  • Can support SQL (including MySQL) or NoSQL databases
  • Accessed through a web interface or vendor-provided API


Ease of access: Users can access cloud databases from virtually anywhere using a vendor’s API or web interface.

Scalability: Cloud databases can expand their storage capacities on run-time to accommodate changing needs. Organizations only pay for what they use.

Disaster recovery: In the event of a natural disaster, equipment failure or power outage, data is kept secure through backups on remote servers.

See IBM Cloud databases


  • Control options: Users can opt for a virtual machine image managed like a traditional database or a provider’s database as a service (DBaaS).

  • Database technology: SQL databases are difficult to scale but very common. NoSQL databases scale more easily but do not work with some applications.

  • Security: Most cloud database providers encrypt data and provide other security measures; organizations should research their options.

  • Maintenance: When using a virtual machine image, one should ensure that IT staffers can maintain the underlying infrastructure.

IBM Cloud database solutions provide a scalable managed data layer

IBM Cloud database solutions offer a complete portfolio of managed services for data and analytics — a hybrid, open source-based approach that addresses the data-intensive needs of application developers, data scientists, and IT architects to deliver immediate and longer-term benefits.

See "A Brief Overview of the Database Landscape."

An IBM perspective: Data management

Managing engagement and application data for massive networks of mobile users or remote devices can be a scalability and availability nightmare.

The problem is that most databases require updates to occur in a central “master” database. This can result in performance bottlenecks and also prevent applications from running if the connection to the master database is unavailable.

A cloud database such as IBM Cloudant enables you to push database access to the farthest edge of the network—such as mobile devices, remote facilities, sensors, and Internet-enabled goods—so you can scale bigger and enable applications to continue running while offline.

Hybrid databases create a distributed hybrid data cloud for increased performance, reach, uptime, mobility, and cost savings:

  • Start small, grow big.
  • Elastically scale on demand.
  • Clusters can span multiple data centers.
  • Manage your cloud yourself or let a provider manage it for you.
  • Mix and match cloud providers to optimize geographic reach, service level agreements (SLAs), pricing, and regulatory requirements.

This is the path to hybrid cloud that accommodates growing data management needs, not infrastructure needs. Organizations can continuously optimize the data layer for cost, performance, security, and reach. They can break up their data, distribute it, and move it closer to their users.

For example, financial organizations are embracing the hybrid concept by using the database as a central repository for all their disparate data sources and then delivering this financial data in JSON format. This data is then distributed to the database as a service and replicated to geographic regions across the world.

If a customer in Singapore has to wait more than four seconds for their mobile application data to be retrieved from a database in New Jersey, that customer is not likely to use that application again. Database-as-a-service can replicate and distribute immediately and offer near real-time access to data worldwide.

Cloud databases can collect, deliver, replicate, and push to the edge all your data using the new hybrid cloud concept. Users no longer have to deploy the dependent middleware to deliver database requests anywhere in the world. They can connect applications directly to their database.

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Learn about IBM Cloud database solutions

Build skills through data services courses, such as “Overview of the IBM Cloud Database Ecosystem," and a variety of other courses contained within the IBM Cloud Professional Developer role-based training and certification.

Register and create an IBM Cloud account.