Amazon Launches Fully Scalable, Zero Administration, Cloud-based Database Service

There’s something exciting happening at Amazon Web Services. It promises to remove the biggest headaches involved in database administration, which is, of course, database administration itself!

The product is a no-SQL database cloud service designed specifically for Web applications, social games, mobile apps, and big data applications. 

Amazon.com calls it DynamoDB. Its benefits, as reported by Amazon CTO Dr. Werner Vogels, are “extremely fast, predictable performance, seamless scalability, and” – get this – “zero administration.”

According to Dr. Vogels, Web site owners who use DynamoDB can now stop buying more and more hardware to keep up with ever-increasing capacity. Their developers no longer have to spend so much time trying to predict how much hardware they need to serve their capacity.

With DynamoDB, he reported, increasing capacity is literally as easy as turning a dial. Turn the dial up to increase capacity during your peak hours, then turn it down when you need less capacity. “You don’t have to keep paying for your peak traffic.”

So it’s easy. Great. But is it fast and reliable?

DynamoDB automatically backs up your data; it also promises is a single-digit millisecond response time regardless of the size of the request. DynamoDB’s general manager, Swami Sivasubramanian, explained, “The server … automatically spreads your data across enough hardware to provide consistent performance and protect against downtime.”

The keyword is “automatic.” As testified by user Don MacAskill, CEO of the premier photo- and video-sharing service SmugMug, there is no longer any need for developers to do provisioning, maintenance, back-ups, replication, etc. “That’s a huge decrease in overhead costs,” he said, so the funds that were once used simply to keep SmugMug running at level could now be used to improve the service.

In fact, MacAskill said, the database service makes things so simple, a couple of guys wanting to put up a data-intensive service like SmugMug from their garage or bedroom, with hardly any knowledge of database administration, can now move forward with their venture simply by using DynamoDB.

As Dr. Vogels emphasized, “It’s not a database software. It’s a database service.

“It is the result of everything we’ve learned from building large-scale nominational databases and building highly scalable and reliable cloud computing services at AWS.”

And how much does it cost?

The pricing model has the scalability built into it. Customers are charged based on the amount of capacity they need.

Amazon offers free sign ups too. There is a free tier of 100 MB storage, 5 writes and 10 reads per seconds, up to 40 million requests per month.

Certainly, this looks like something that could completely change the landscape of the IT industry: it can radically change how we handle big data; it could strongly affect how people view and use cloud services; it could redefine the responsibilities of database administrators. 

I’d say DynamoDB is definitely a product to watch.

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