Thursday, March 20, 2014

Some of Amazon Web Services (AWS') most advanced users have been explaining their solutions for managing databases on the platform, with many stated they favour self-managed options over Amazon's managed offerings.

This was one of the key takeaways from a series of presentations as part of the inaugural meeting of the AWS Super Users Online Meetup Group, Tech Target reports, which saw a majority of the speakers say they run databases such as Cassandra and MySQL on the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), rather than using Amazon's Database as a Service (DBaaS) platforms, such as the Relational Database Service (RDS) and DynamoDB.

Jack Murgia, director of operations at online social learning platform Edmodo, was one of the speakers with experience of both sides, as he explained the opportunity to hand over the management of its database to AWS was highly appealed when the firm was still in the startup phase.

The firm migrated to RDS in 2011, with Mr Murgia praising the ease of setup for this. He observed the company was able to create development and quality assurance environments in just a few clicks and scale up as the firm's load increased.

However, the company encountered issues with operations such as multi-availability-zone failover and, with the database having eight replicas and each one taking around an hour to make, downtime was a concern for Endodo. Therefore, when it had the internal expertise to do so, it made the decision to switch back to a self-managed MySQL solution.

Mr Murgia said moving to a managing database is a "trade-off" businesses have to think about. He added: "Perhaps you don't have the skills, perhaps you're a small startup, so it's fine, but as you start to gain those skills and start to raise your standards of performance and availability, that's going to become an issue."

Other speakers at the event also highlighted some of the beneficial features of NoSQL database Cassandra over its managed alternatives. Joey Imbasciano, cloud platform engineer with Stackdriver, cited the simpler costs of Cassandra in comparison with AWS' DynamoDB.

He described DynamoDB's cost model as "pretty complicated", noting: "It makes it hard to estimate what the service is going to cost you until you get pretty far into a prototyping phase."