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Amazon Builds Its Own NoSQL Database DynamoDB


Written by  Sudheer Raju | 19 January 2012
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DyanmoDBAmazon yesterday has launched its own homegrown NOSQL database "DynamoDB"which is the result of 15 years of learning in the areas of large scale non-relational databases and cloud services. Several years ago Amazon has published a paper on the details of Amazon’s Dynamo technology, which was one of the first non-relational databases developed at Amazon. The original Dynamo design was based on a core set of strong distributed systems principles resulting in an ultra-scalable and highly reliable database system.

Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon has mentioned in his blog that DynamoDB is a fully managed NoSQL database service that provides fast performance at any scale. Today’s web-based applications often encounter database scaling challenges when faced with growth in users, traffic, and data. With Amazon DynamoDB, developers scaling cloud-based applications can start small with just the capacity they need and then increase the request capacity of a given table as their app grows in popularity. Their tables can also grow without limits as their users store increasing amounts of data. Behind the scenes, Amazon DynamoDB automatically spreads the data and traffic for a table over a sufficient number of servers to meet the request capacity specified by the customer. Amazon DynamoDB offers low, predictable latencies at any scale. Customers can typically achieve average service-side in the single-digit milliseconds. Amazon DynamoDB stores data on Solid State Drives (SSDs) and replicates it synchronously across multiple AWS Availability Zones in an AWS Region to provide built-in high availability and data durability.

It already has SimpleDB as its NOSQL offering wich apparently comes with scaling limitations and with growing demand for NOSQL and BigData its not a surprise that Amazon had been building and testing this already from a while. 

Vogels has said that DynamoDB NoSQL database service offers the following benefits:

  • Managed. DynamoDB frees developers from the headaches of provisioning hardware and software, setting up and configuring a distributed database cluster, and managing ongoing cluster operations. It handles all the complexities of scaling and partitions and re-partitions your data over more machine resources to meet your I/O performance requirements. It also automatically replicates your data across multiple Availability Zones (and automatically re-replicates in the case of disk or node failures) to meet stringent availability and durability requirements. Being a managed service end customers need not worry about scalability for heavy usage and let DynamoDB worry about it.

  • Scalable. Amazon DynamoDB is designed to scale the resources dedicated to a table to hundreds or even thousands of servers spread over multiple Availability Zones to meet your storage and throughput requirements. There are no pre-defined limits to the amount of data each table can store. Developers can store and retrieve any amount of data and DynamoDB will spread the data across more servers as the amount of data stored in your table grows.

  • Fast. Amazon DynamoDB provides high throughput at very low latency. It is also built on Solid State Drives to help optimize for high performance even at high scale. Moreover, by not indexing all attributes, the cost of read and write operations is low as write operations involve updating only the primary key index thereby reducing the latency of both read and write operations. An application running in EC2 will typically see average service-side latencies in the single-digit millisecond range for a 1KB object. Most importantly, DynamoDB latencies are predictable. Even as datasets grow, latencies remain stable due to the distributed nature of DynamoDB's data placement and request routing algorithms.

  • Durable and Highly Available. Amazon DynamoDB replicates its data over at least 3 different data centers so that the system can continue to operate and serve data even under complex failure scenarios.

  • Flexible. Amazon DynamoDB is an extremely flexible system that does not force its users into a particular data model or a particular consistency model. DynamoDB tables do not have a fixed schema but instead allow each data item to have any number of attributes, including multi-valued attributes. Developers can optionally use stronger consistency models when accessing the database, trading off some performance and availability for a simpler model. They can also take advantage of the atomic increment/decrement functionality of DynamoDB for counters.

  • Low cost. Amazon DynamoDB’s pricing is simple and predictable: Storage is $1 per GB per month. Requests are priced based on how much capacity is reserved: $0.01 per hour for every 10 units of Write Capacity and $0.01 per hour for every 50 units of Read Capacity. A unit of Read (or Write) Capacity equals one read (or write) per second of capacity for items up to 1KB in size. If you use eventually consistent reads, you can achieve twice as many reads per second for a given amount of Read Capacity. Larger items will require additional throughput capacity.

With the availability of DynamoDB and offering Windows clouds for free its clear that Amazon shows its willingness to keep rolling out significant new capabilities as per demand from time to time.

Sudheer Raju

Sudheer Raju

Founder of ToolsJournal, a technology journal on software tools and services. Sudheer has overall accountability for the webiste product development and is responsible for Sales and Marketing. With a flair to write, Sudheer himself writes for toolsjournal across all journal categories.


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