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Hosting SQL Databases in the Cloud

SQL databases are the backbone of the web. Although MongoDB and other NoSQL databases have become more popular in the last decade,  60 percent of databases on the web are SQL. NoSQL databases are great for unstructured data, and they work well with JSON-based web applications, but SQL-powered relational database management systems remain the best choice for applications of all types.

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See Also: ServerMania Database Solutions

Traditionally, businesses host SQL databases on dedicated servers, but it is becoming increasingly common to move databases away from dedicated hardware and onto the cloud. There are several advantages to hosting SQL databases in the cloud, as we’ll discuss later in this article, but let’s look first at some of the most popular SQL databases for web applications and general data storage.

Which SQL Servers Can I Host In The Cloud?

You can host any SQL database server that runs on an operating system supported by the cloud platform. On the ServerMania Cloud, that means any database that runs on Linux or Microsoft Windows, which includes every popular open-source and proprietary database.

A database server manages SQL databases: clients access the database via the server, which processes queries on their behalf. In this context, the client is most likely to be your web application. We can’t offer a full comparison here, but for a web app, you are most likely to choose between the following four options.

MySQL is the most widely used SQL database server, accounting for almost 40 percent of databases in 2019, second only to MongoDB. MySQL is an open-source database and is the default database in WordPress and many other content management systems and eCommerce stores, which goes some way to explaining its popularity. MySQL can be used on both Linux and Windows cloud servers.

PostgreSQL is the second most popular open-source database server. PostgreSQL tends to provide better performance than MySQL for apps that require many concurrent reads and writes, so, for apps that write to the database very frequently, it may be a better option than MySQL. PostgreSQL also includes advanced features for storing and querying JSON data, making it a viable alternative to NoSQL databases in some scenarios.

Microsoft SQL Server is Microsoft’s proprietary competitor to MySQL and PostgreSQL. It runs on both Windows and Linux and is frequently used in web apps based on Microsoft technology and languages. Oracle Database is an alternative proprietary database server often used by enterprise organizations. 

SQLite is different. It does not operate on the client-server model, but as a serverless database that apps access directly. SQLite is lightweight, portable, and simpler to set-up than database servers. It’s a reasonable choice for smaller websites and applications where the database is hosted on the same server as the app, but offers limited concurrency compared to database servers and does not support user management.

Before selecting a database, you may want to consider the language that you intend to use to build your app—some languages have better support for particular databases and frameworks. For example, Ruby on Rails has excellent support for PostgreSQL and MySQL, but not for Microsoft SQL Server, which is more often used with C# and the ASP.NET framework.

Why Host SQL Database In The Cloud?

SQL servers benefit from cloud hosting for many of the same reasons other parts of your app work better in the cloud.

  • Scalability. Cloud servers can be scaled more quickly than dedicated servers. If your database needs more—or less—CPU, memory, or storage, you can scale the cloud server that hosts it in minutes.
  • Redundancy is less complex and expensive in the cloud. Cloud servers can be backed-up and replicated with minimal lead-time, allowing for low-cost redundancy and fast incident responses.
  • Security. On the ServerMania Cloud, we manage the physical and network layer that supports your cloud database. Unlike databases hosted on colocated or on-premises servers, you don’t have to worry about physical and network security.
  • Automation. Database deployment and scaling can be automated in the cloud. Our cloud platform offers a comprehensive API and templated server provisioning that allow you to simplify server deployment and database provisioning.

How to Scale SQL Databases In the Cloud

There are two ways to scale a database: scaling up and scaling out. Scaling up, adding more resources to the server hosting the database, is the preferred strategy because it's simpler than scaling out, dividing the database between several servers. However, when a database becomes too large to cost-effectively scale up, it may be necessary to scale out. Both types of scaling are faster and less expensive with cloud servers than with dedicated servers.

As discussed in the previous section, scaling up by adding more resources to a database’s cloud server is simple. The ServerMania Cloud’s standard instances extend to 24 CPUs, 128 GB of RAM, and up to 3 TB of storage, but can scale even more if required.

If a database’s resource requirements grow beyond the network or server resources a single node can deliver, the database can be scaled out in several ways, including database replication. The database is replicated across several nodes and the load is distributed among them. For replication to work, every database transaction has to be replicated across all nodes. A common replication model for read-heavy applications is to create read-only replicas, something that both MySQL and PostgreSQL support.

It is faster and more straightforward to deploy the servers to support database replicas on a cloud platform: replicas can be deployed quickly in response to increased demand, scaled at will, and deleted when no longer required.

Replication has limits because the entire database has to be copied to each node and kept in sync. When databases become too large to support on a single node, they may be scaled out by sharding, a form of horizontal partitioning. The database table’s rows are separated into multiple tables with identical schema, and those tables are distributed across several database nodes hosted on different servers. Sharding is a complex process: the standard versions of PostgreSQL and MySQL do not support automatic sharding, so it is usually handled manually.

If you suspect that your database will grow to the point at which sharding becomes necessary, you may want to consider hosting on a dedicated server platform that can scale further than cloud servers.

Bring Your SQL Database Servers to the Cloud

The ServerMania Cloud is secure, flexible, and easy-to-manage, with full server, storage, and backup redundancy. Deploy your database servers on our zero downtime cloud platform and pay less than with traditional cloud vendors.

To learn more about SQL database hosting on the ServerMania Cloud, contact us for a free consultation or contact a cloud expert in the chat window on this page.

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Mark Lahn

Mark is a Content Marketing Manager at ServerMania. He focuses on providing engaging and easy to follow content to help users navigate the hosting industry.