Roundup: Amazon’s DynamoDB

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Amazon Web Services has launched DynamoDB, a fully managed NoSQL database service that provides extremely fast and predictable performance with seamless scalability. Amazon has had a cloud database service with SimpleDB for some time, but DynamoDB focuses on fast, predictable performance and automatically manages the spreading of data and workload over a sufficient number of servers.

With DynamoDB all data items are stored on Solid State Disks (SSDs) and are automatically replicated across multiple Availability Zones in a Region to provide built-in high availability and data durability. James Hamilton and Werner Vogels from Amazon lay out the history building up to the release of DynamoDB and Vogels explains that DynamoDB “is the result of 15 years of learning in the areas of large scale non-relational databases and cloud services.”  The much anticipated use of SSD’s in this new service allows users to see how solid state drives function in the cloud without building a full cloud infrastructure solution. The new service is in beta and offers a free tier that allows more than 40 million database operations per month.

Here’s a roundup of notable analysis and commentary from around the web:

  • Informationweek – The key appeal of Amazon DynamoDB is that it’s a managed service. When you need more database capacity, you don’t have the burdens of provisioning and configuring hardware, operating and scaling distributed databases, patching software, partitioning databases and then scaling up the hardware platform. You can dial up and dial down the capacity as needed in flexible cloud fashion, and you can also choose between peak performance or, if latency isn’t crucial, “eventual consistency” (meaning possible processing delays of a few seconds” at a lower cost.
  • GigaOm (Barb Darrow) – The demand for NoSQL databases is booming with the growth of big data and web applications: something of which Amazon and other tech providers are well aware. Amazon already offers a range of relational database services and SimpleDB, another home-grown, non-relational database, which is easy to use and powerful but has some domain scaling limitations. But NoSQL is built to scale along with unstructured web data and is also suited for the distributed nature of web applications.
  • Redmonk – “NoSQL has, as a category, crossed the chasm from interesting science project to alternative data persistence mechanism. But while NoSQL tools like Cassandra and Riak are available in managed form via providers like Joyent and Heroku, DynamoDB is, in Popescu’s words: ‘the first managed NoSQL databases that auto-shards.’ It is also possible that SSD pricing contributed directly to the launch timing, with pricing for the drive type down to levels where the economics of a low cost shared service finally make sense.”
  • DataStax Blog – Does Amazon’s offering meant trouble for other players in this space. Billy Bosworth of Datastax says no. “Personally, I have never believed that other post-relational (aka NoSQL/Hadoop) database companies were our primary competition.  The brute fact of the matter is that if you put us all together, we are still not statistically relevant compared to the overall DBMS market.  In order to change that, we need to change the ecosystem itself.  Many decision makers who are excited about big data technologies are also frustrated at the lack of human resources who really know how to leverage them.  That isn’t just about ease of use either.  It’s about a fundamental shift in thinking to solve problems in new and interesting ways.”
  • Basho Blog – Basho, the developer of Riak, concurs: “Amazon’s unveiling earlier today of DynamoDB, Amazon’s new datastore, is good for the NoSQL movement and great for customer choice…. The Amazon announcement tells us the power of NoSQL. Almost five years following the release of the Dynamo paper, the world’s largest e-commerce company is doubling down on NoSQL and the role of key-value stores. This aligns with a trend that has accelerated over the past year. “
  • Amazon Web Services Blog – Jeff Barr of AWS writes: “We want you to think big, to dream big dreams, and to envision (and then build) data-intensive applications that can scale from zero users up to tens or hundreds of millions of users before you know it. We want you to succeed, and we don’t want your database to get in the way. Focus on your app and on building a user base, and leave the driving to us.”

Here’s a video that provides an overview of the DynamoDB service and its benefits:

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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