You’ve decided to move your business operations to the cloud. Smart move. Cloud computing is the undisputed path of the future and unlocks numerous benefits for streamlining your operations. But before you migrate data or start structuring your private business cloud, you’ll need to decide if now is also the right time to make the leap to a decentralized or distributed database.
Breaking down the difference
Decentralized and distributed databases are the natural next step in the cloud computing evolution. A centralized cloud database is simply a single online point of storage accessible by anyone. Multiple places house decentralized and distributed databases, which are accessible in multiple ways, making it easier for anyone at your company to get the information they need.
Decentralized databases have no central storage place. Instead, servers are connected with one another and communicate to share data with any authorized user who accesses the cloud. Distributed databases, on the other hand, don’t have any storage at all. Instead, users share data across nodes, which connect in a mesh-style network.
Both decentralized and distributed databases are a departure from traditional cloud computing and offer very important benefits if leveraged correctly.
Why decentralize or distribute data?
Making the decision to change the structure of your business’ data management system isn’t one that’s made lightly. Thankfully, a bounty of benefits behind making the switch to a decentralized or distributed system exist.
- Today’s economy is global, which means operations themselves are decentralized. Having a cloud data structure that mimics this means a natural fit and better accessibility for crucial data.
- Because data isn’t centralized, accountability and transparency increase. Altered data at one node can be verified against all others. This is the same concept behind blockchain technology.
- Cyberattacks and network issues have the potential to take down servers in one fell swoop. If a company distributes their data, it’s not compromised from one server malfunction. Decentralized and/or distributed data is accessible from multiple nodes.
- Similarly, servers under increase data requests tend to trend towards poor performance. Spreading data out mitigates load and allows quicker, more reliable access to data from multiple nodes.
- Costs are greatly diminished when data is decentralized. Instead of paying for server farms or centralized data hubs, organizations are taking advantage of economical cloud storage. Additionally, accessing data regionally comes with lower expenses.
- Growing storage is easier and expansion is more scalable when data is decentralized. Adding users, nodes, workstations, and networks to a decentralized or distributed data management system is easy and can improve the system’s overall performance.
Even more opportunities and benefits abound depending on the organization’s current structure and its day-to-day data demands. Regardless, reliability, efficiency, and security remain the cornerstones of decentralized and distributed data systems.
The barriers to adopting a new data management system
Despite robust benefits to be gained from a decentralized or distributed shift in data management, many companies simply aren’t ready to make the switch. Legitimate migration barriers exist, creating complications that may compromise data if not handled appropriately.
The sheer complexity of setting up and maintaining these systems often outstrips the capabilities of in-house IT departments. Alongside this, gaps in setup can create major security risks and compromised data channels. This could culminate in costs to fix problems and maintain data integrity — funds not every company has to spend on IT restructuring.
As decentralized or distributed databases become more commonplace for larger entities, their abilities will trickle down to mid-sized and smaller companies. Standardization and mainstream understanding of these modern data management systems will unlock their potential quickly in years to come.