2017 has been a pivotal year for the database technologies market, with several massive paradigm shifts that shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. Companies are pivoting away from the traditional monolithic database architectures which, for decades, powered generations after generations of applications in exchange for a more optimized, agile, self-managed cloud-focused data platform strategy.

With the increasing demand for scale, security, performance, high availability, and, perhaps most important, cost and operation optimization, we can identify three significant drivers powering the proverbial “2.0 version” of next-gen database architectures:

  1. Customers are becoming specifically cloud-centric.
  2. Customers are increasingly relying on platform-as-a-service database solutions.
  3. Customers are adopting open source database engines.

Want to validate that your own IT database strategy aligns with the overall direction of where the database market is going? All you have to do is make sure you embrace these principles moving forward. Let’s explore what they mean in greater detail.

The age of cloud-centric databases

Back in 2014, when refocusing and shifting Microsoft’s entire software and services strategy, CEO Satya Nadella coined the “” mantra. Nadella was referencing Microsoft’s new dedicated efforts to mobile and cloud services and solutions. It appears the entire enterprise market was keen to embrace a similar set of priorities.

, enterprise adoption of cloud as the primary environment for workloads is expected to jump from 10 percent in 2015 to 51 percent in 2018.  McKinsey also notes that enterprises are likely to choose hyper-scale cloud solution providers such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft.

Even extremely traditional companies—which have invested in maintaining large and highly proficient IT organizations with decades of experience in datacenter operations—are finding it difficult not to embrace the inherent benefits of cloud-centric IT strategies.

However, merely waving the “cloud” flag as part of your organization’s mission statement is not enough—and can even be confusingly ambiguous. Do you plan to “lift and shift” your existing servers from your on-premises datacenter to the cloud (IaaS) or take it one step further and begin embracing native cloud solutions for your databases?

While a “lift and shift” (IaaS) strategy can help reduce IT management overhead and dramatically increase operational flexibility and high availability, for many “cloud-first” organizations, that counts as merely dipping your toes in the water and not a full-blown adoption of cloud solutions and services.

, enterprise customers are adopting platform-as-a-service (PaaS) for increasingly strategic initiatives, and more customers believe that PaaS will be the primary form of platform delivery moving forward.

The reasoning is quite simple: PaaS databases technologies are self-managed and self-operated. These solutions dramatically reduce the operational overhead of maintaining your database architectures allowing you to invest the time and efforts of your IT staff, and specifically your database administrators, into application-focused activities that drive business success instead of babysitting overly complicated database infrastructure.

Database software and cloud vendors are pouring much of their R&D muscle into PaaS database solutions, which is becoming one of the most significant differentiating factors among the biggest players in the cloud space (Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Oracle).

Back in 2014, Amazon announced , a fully managed, relational database engine that combines the speed and availability of high-end commercial databases with the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of open source databases. Moreover, and perhaps more important, Aurora is a native PaaS database solution for AWS.  Since its announcement, Aurora has gained a lot of traction and mindshare. This year, during Amazon’s annual re:Invent expo, Amazon took its cloud database offering one step further and announced as a fully managed “abstracted” database, where you to pay for the database resources you use, on a second-by-second basis.

While it’s clear that Amazon innovates and disrupts in cloud solutions, the wave of PaaS database offering is industry-wide. Oracle, one of the leaders of the traditional high-end enterprise relational database software market—and a company that has invested decades of R&D in creating one of the world’s most capable, optimized, configurable, and tunable relational databases—used its annual OpenWorld conference this year to launch its own “self-driving” database offering.  As part of CTO Larry Ellison’s vision for the autonomous database cloud, Oracle’s focus on try to eliminate the human effort associated with tuning, patching, updating, and maintaining the Oracle database.

And it is not just Amazon and Oracle. Microsoft provides , which is a fully managed relational cloud database service and tries to tune your database for improved performance and protection automatically. Azure is Microsoft’s PaaS offering combining the high-end capabilities, performance, and features of both SQL Server and Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform.