AWS 101: A Look at AWS Database Services

Moving to a cloud computing environment wouldn’t be complete without including databases in the mix. If you’re moving your applications to a cloud infrastructure, why not also migrate the databases supporting your critical workloads?

Yes, enterprise-level database migrations do seem daunting, but there’s no reason to fear the process. Today you have the choice of so many purpose-built, managed database solutions that it truly simplifies not just the actual migration but also how you operate post-migration.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers its own managed database solutions that combine the low-cost and flexibility of open-source databases with the powerful features of commercial databases. In this latest edition of AWS 101, we’re going to dive into these databases and explore how they work on their own and with such services as Amazon S3 abd other features, as well as what they can do to support your organization.

What Do AWS Database Services Provide?

AWS offers a mix of relational and non-relational databases to address multiple application needs. All are...


All AWS database engines are purpose-built, meaning they address specific needs. Your use cases drive your database strategy to solve specific business challenges and application needs.

This eliminates old-school, one-size-fits-all solutions as purpose-built databases are optimized for your data model so they can power better application performance and scaling.


encryption keyBuilt specifically for enterprise loads, AWS databases deliver high availability, reliability and security, supporting multi-region, multi-master replication. Security features include network isolation using AWS Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), encryption in transit, and isolation at rest using custom keys created and controlled using AWS Key Management Service KMS.

Fully managed.

Migrating your databases to AWS means you no longer need to worry about server setup, configuration, provisioning, patching, backups and recovery. AWS databases are fully managed, with continuous cluster monitoring, self-healing storage and automated scaling. You get the same management and support that you do with your AWS cloud infrastructure.

All AWS database engines are purpose-built, meaning they address specific needs. Your use cases drive your database strategy to solve specific business challenges and application needs.

What Kind of AWS Database Services are Available?

From relational databases to key-value ones to everything in between, AWS addresses varied needs with solutions for every application and use case.

Amazon Aurora

This cloud-native relational database engine is MySQL- and PostgreSQL-compatible but costs less to manage. AWS reports it’s five times faster than standard MySQL standard databases and three times faster than PostgreSQL.

A fault-tolerant, distributed and self-healing storage system auto-scales up to 64TB per database instance. Amazon Aurora continuously backups to Amazon S3 (Simplified Storage Service) and replicates across three availability zones. Amazon Aurora is fully managed by the Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) and can be used for software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps, web and mobile gaming and many enterprise applications.

Amazon RDS

Amazon RDS is the key to automating time-consuming administration tasks like hardware provisioning, database setup, patching, and backups, simplifying your database experience in the cloud. It’s available on several instance types and gives users the choice of six different database engines.

app dev workers
  • Amazon Aurora
  • MySQL
  • PostgreSQL
  • MariaDB
  • Oracle Database
  • SQL Server

Amazon Redshift

This fast cloud-based data warehouse powers analytical workloads that run on structured and semi-structured data. Query across your data warehouse, operational database and data lake using SQL. It is so named because it is intended to replace an organization’s Oracle database warehouse — organizations are then making the shift from Oracle (whose logo is red).

Amazon DynamoDB

A NoSQL key-value and document database, Amazon DynamoDB can handle more than 10 trillion queries a day with single-digit millisecond performance. It can support peaks of more than 20 million requests per second, demonstrating its powerful performance at scale. It’s great for serverless web apps, microservices, mobile backends, IoT and more.

Amazon Elasticache

Unposed group of creative business people in an open concept office brainstorming their next project.This web service simplifies the process of deploying, operating and scaling an in-memory cache in the cloud. Because you can quickly retrieve information from these managed caches rather than relying on slower, disk-based databases, you can improve web app performance. Amazon Elasticache supports both Redis and Mecached open-source, memory-caching engines.

Amazon DocumentDB

A non-relational, fully managed, document database service, Amazon DocumentDB is built to provide high performance and availability for operating mission-critical MongoDB workloads at scale. It facilitates simple storage, queries and indexing of JSON data, offering 99.99% availability and replicating six copies of data across three availability zones.

Amazon KeySpaces

Amazon KeySpaces is a highly available, scalable and managed serverless database that’s compatible with Apache Cassandra and is ideal for low-latency and open-source apps.

Amazon Neptune

If you need a graph database that runs highly connected datasets, give Amazon Neptune a try. This database is optimized for storing billions of relationships and can query graphs in seconds. It supports such graph models as PropertyGraph and WC3’s RDF and their query languages, Apache TinkerPop Gremlin and SPARQL, respectively. Amazon Neptune powers a variety of graph use cases, including fraud detection, recommendation engines, knowledge graphs and more.

Amazon Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB)

A new class of database, Amazon QLDB is a fully managed ledger database that eliminates the need for you to build your own ledger-like applications. It delivers an immutable change history, using verifiable cryptography, tracking changes over time.

Amazon Timestream

Designed for IoT and operational applications, Amazon Timestream makes it easy to store and analyze trillions of events each day. It processes these events using time intervals. This serverless database allows you to easily store and log data for such things as DevOps, IoT app sensors and industrial telemetry. Amazon Timestream automates rollups, retention, tiering and data compression.

Streamlining Database Migration

To migrate or replicate your existing databases to any AWS database service, use the AWS Database Migration service. This service keeps your source database fully operational during the migration to mitigate critical app downtime.

Using the resilient, self-healing AWS Database Migration service, you can easily and securely migrate your data to and from popular commercial and open-source databases. The service supports homogeneous migrations within the same platform or heterogeneous ones between platforms, such as moving from an Oracle Database to Amazon Aurora, for example.

Apps_migrationYou can quickly set up your migration tasks in AWS Management Console to define the parameters to execute the migration, including setting up the source and target databases and determining the replication instances. This tool provides constant monitoring during migration. If interrupted, it automatically restarts the process from where it was halted.

Once the migration is complete, your target database will remain synchronized to the source until you are ready to complete the final switchover.

Purpose-built databases, such as these available in the Amazon cloud, have much to offer and can help you target maximum performance of your applications, whether they are internet-scale or realtime, open-source or enterprise.

We want to be sure you understand all that Amazon Web Services has to offer, so be sure to check out other blogs in our AWS 101 series. You'll learn more about Amazon S3, deploying AWS Lambda to run code and using Auto Scaling to manage your infrastructure, among other topics. Take a look:

AWS 101: An Introduction to Modern Cloud Computing

AWS 101: What is Amazon WorkSpaces?

AWS 101: How Does Amazon EC2 Work in Cloud Computing?

AWS 101: What is Amazon S3 and Why Should I Use It?

AWS 101: How AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) Works

AWS 101: How AWS AWS 101: What is Amazon S3 and Why Should I Use It?

AWS 101: How Cloud Security Securely Protects Your Data

AWS 101: Why You Should Be Deploying AWS Lambda to Run Code

AWS 101: Using AWS Auto Scaling to Manage Infrastructure

AWS 101: What is Amazon Route 53?

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Meet the Author

Gerald Van Guilder, Senior Cloud Architect

Gerald Van Guilder, Senior Cloud Architect

Gerald (Jerry) Van Guilder specializes in GCP and AWS architecture, deployments/implementations and migrations. One of the many things that he enjoys is enabling clients to feel empowered not only by technologies but also in the skill/knowledge transfer that transpires during the course of an engagement. Jerry lives (and works) in Syracuse, New York, with his wife and two pups.

More Posts By Gerald Van Guilder, Senior Cloud Architect

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