Amazon's MySQL Alternative Aurora Now Generally Available

Company claims Aurora couples open source and cloud economics with commercial-grade database performance and reliability

Jason Verge

July 28, 2015

3 Min Read
Jeff Bezos Amazon
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at a press conference in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)Getty Images

Amazon Web Services rolled out Aurora, its alternative to open source MySQL built from the ground up for cloud, into wide release. Aurora is available as a database engine in the growing AWS Relational Database Service. It has a MySQL interface but was built from the ground up and optimized for cloud infrastructure.

How do you position against open source? Emphasize performance and charge for the infrastructure in a Database-as-a-Service offering. The company positions Aurora as a formidable alternative to traditional MySQL, claiming Aurora couples enterprise-grade performance with open source database economics: it pegs the cost at a tenth of a traditional MySQL offerings. Amazon claims Aurora also performs up to five times better with commercial-grade stability. It was designed for 99.99 percent availability.

Instance health is continuously monitored to automatically detect and recover from most database failures in less than 60 seconds, according to Amazon. Data is automatically and continuously backed up to S3, its cloud storage. The database cache survives a restart with no cache warming required and fails over to a read replica in the event of a failure.

Aurora is aimed at companies looking to leverage the performance and economics of cloud without having to reinvent their database. MySQL on AWS is also available, but Aurora will be the default recommendation.

To further encourage Aurora usage, AWS also made it easy for existing MySQL customers to transfer over with minimal changes. Aurora’s compatibility with MySQL means it’s easy for customers to transfer existing MySQL databases over with one click.

“We started with a blank piece of paper,” said Anurag Gupta, the product’s general manager announcing the preview at Amazon re:Invent last year. “It’s a database built for AWS cost structure.”

An increasing number of database workloads are moving to the cloud in order to take advantage of cloud economics. Rather than spend on hardware, cloud provides the advantage of paying for what you use. Renting rather than buying also means customers can leverage more powerful hardware and scale easier than within the confines of on-premise hardware.

“Today’s commercial-grade databases are expensive, proprietary, high lock-in, and come with punitive licensing terms that these database providers are comfortable employing,” said Raju Gulabani, VP of database services at AWS, in a press release. “It’s why we rarely meet enterprises who aren’t looking to escape from their commercial-grade database solution.”

The big cloud providers continue to differentiate IaaS with advanced services like DBaaS (Database as-a-Service). Aurora is a close competitor to Microsoft's SQL Azure database.

In terms of cloud database offerings, a lot of the focus has been on NoSQL. IBM acquired Cloudant to boost its cloud database offerings last year, with Cloudant complementing SoftLayer infrastructure and tying into IBM’s analytics portfolio. Google made its internal NoSQL database Bigtable available as a service on its cloud in May.

Aliyun, the cloud computing arm of China’s Alibaba is diversifying its cloud database offerings, recently partnering with EnterpriseDB to make its PostgreSQL relational database available on Aliyun’s cloud.

Rackspace is focused on managed database services. It acquired ObjectRocket in 2013 and has been expanding managed database services from there.

Big cloud provider database offerings also develop partner ecosystems of their own. AWS partners include MySQL alternative and drop-in replacement MariaDB, Tableau, Toad, Webyog, Navicat, and Talend. All have certified or are certifying their products with Amazon Aurora.

A wide range of companies participated in a preview, many of which commented in a press release on Aurora’s ability to scale with no degradation in performance, as well as how easy it was to migrate existing databases into the service. Customers include Pacific Gas and Electric, weather data for IoT provider Earth Networks, facial recognition provider FacialNetwork, online course provider Coursera and Intuit.

The initial regions for Aurora are US East (Northern Virginia US West (Oregon) and EU (Ireland) with plans to roll out wide in the coming months.

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