Why Are IT Execs Turning to Open-Source Cloud Databases?

IT execs responding to two recent surveys cited "strong security" as one of the top reasons they're adopting open-source cloud databases—the lack of which was once considered an impediment to adoption. In both surveys, "easy cloud migration" was cited as a primary reason.

Nearly 90% of IT chiefs surveyed for IBM subsidiary Red Hat's "State of Enterprise Open Source 2022" report said they believe open-source software is as secure as proprietary software.

More than half of the respondents to open-source relational database management system (DBMS) provider MariaDB's 2022 "Cloud Database Trends Survey" cited higher security as a benefit of cloud migration.

The Red Hat report was global in scope, based on responses from 1296 interviews with IT leaders worldwide, including 150 submissions from English-speaking Asia Pacific (APAC) execs, 448 submissions from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), 300 submissions from Latin America (LATAM), and 398 submissions from the United States (U.S.).

Among the findings of the Red Hat survey: 82% of IT leaders said they are more likely to select a vendor who contributes to the open-source community. Why? They're familiar with open-source processes (49%); they help sustain healthy open-source communities (49%); they can influence the development of features the company needs (48%); and they're going to be more effective if the company faces technical challenges (46%).

The survey results also underscored the fact that open-source is now widely considered to be a much more secure bet. As Gordon Haff, a technology advocate at Red Hat, noted in the report:

Interestingly, answers that historically often came up in open-source security discussions were at the bottom of the list. Neither the idea that “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow” (to quote a long-standing open-source aphorism) nor the ability to audit the code directly were as important to respondents as other benefits. What we might call the mythology of open-source security, both for better and worse, seems to be on the way out.

Rather, the top benefit was that their “team can use well-tested open-source code for our inhouse applications.” This reflects the increasingly widespread use of open-source code for internal applications. (It also explains the amount of attention that the security of software supply chains is now receiving.)

The MariaDB survey gathered opinions from 122 IT professionals "who had a role in the selection and management of database services or database software at their companies at the time of survey, 90% of whom were from medium to large businesses." Respondents included: DBAs (49%); database developers and software engineers (25%); and CIOs, CTOs, and other heads of IT (25%).

In MariaDB’s survey, 87% of respondents agreed that using Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) would help bridge the cloud skills gap; 79% of companies working toward full cloud migration reported plans to increase their investment in database management and operations; and 90% said it would be essential to choose a database vendor who supports multi-cloud capabilities.

However, some stark differences emerged from the survey about open-source security. While 58% of IT execs, including CTOs and CIOs, named higher security as a benefit of migration, only 22% of DBAs and 26% of developers shared that opinion.

Respondents to the MariaDB survey did agree on a number of issues. A solid majority (93%) agreed that storing data across their organization in a single database helps with standardizing security protocols (85% of respondents said they use two or more databases); 83% said they would be willing to use an open-source database for a mission-critical project; 88% agreed that DBaaS would help their organization save money; and 87% agreed that using DBaaS would help bridge the cloud skills gap.

"As companies across all verticals face ongoing customer experience, cost and security challenges, there’s no question that an easy-to-use, always available, scalable cloud database is an important part of a strategic technical solution," said Franz Aman, CMO of MariaDB Corporation, in a statement.

Both reports are available now for download.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].