Running Your Database on AWS: What Are the Options?

Running Your Database on AWS: What Are the Options?

What is AWS? 

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a cloud computing platform provided by Amazon that includes a mixture of infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and packaged software as a service (SaaS) offerings. AWS services can offer organizations tools such as compute power, database storage, and content delivery services.

AWS is a secure cloud services platform that offers a broad set of global compute, storage, database, analytics, application, and deployment services. These services help organizations move faster, lower IT costs, and scale applications. In terms of databases, AWS provides six main types: Amazon RDS and Amazon Redshift (SQL options), and Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon ElastiCache, Amazon Neptune, and Amazon DocumentDB (Amazon’s NoSQL database options).

The beauty of AWS is that it is a pay-as-you-go service. This means you only pay for the individual services you need for as long as you use them without requiring long-term contracts or complex licensing. Now that we have established what AWS is, let’s explore the benefits of running your databases on AWS.

Benefits of Running Databases on AWS 

Scalability and Flexibility

One of the significant advantages of running databases on AWS is its scalability and flexibility. AWS allows you to scale up or down your database resources according to your business needs. This means you can start small and gradually increase the resources as your business grows.

AWS also offers flexibility. It supports many popular database engines such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, and SQL Server, among others. This means you can choose the database engine that best suits your business needs.

Enhanced Security and Compliance

Security is a critical concern for any organization, especially when it comes to data. AWS offers enhanced security and compliance for your databases. AWS infrastructure is designed to keep your data safe with data centers spread across different regions globally.

AWS also offers features such as AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), which allows you to control who can access your AWS resources. Additionally, AWS provides various encryption options for your databases to ensure your data stays secure.

Cost-Effectiveness and Pay-As-You-Go Pricing

Another significant benefit of AWS is its cost-effectiveness. AWS operates on a pay-as-you-go pricing model, which means you only pay for the resources you use. This can significantly reduce your IT costs as you don’t need to invest in expensive hardware for your databases.

Moreover, AWS offers various pricing options for different services, allowing you to choose the most cost-effective option for your business needs. AWS also provides a cost calculator to help you estimate the cost of using AWS services.

High Availability and Disaster Recovery

AWS provides high availability and disaster recovery for your databases. AWS has data centers in different regions globally, which means your data can be replicated across different regions to ensure high availability.

In the event of a disaster, AWS provides various recovery options to ensure your data can be quickly restored. AWS also offers services such as AWS Backup, which allows you to automate backup tasks for your AWS resources.

Key Options for Databases on AWS 

Amazon RDS

Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) is a web service that simplifies setting up, operating, and scaling a relational database in the cloud. It supports several popular database engines, including MySQL, MariaDB, PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, and Amazon Aurora. It provides cost-efficient, resizable database instances, while managing time-consuming database administration tasks.

Amazon DynamoDB

Amazon DynamoDB is a key-value and document database that delivers single-digit millisecond performance at any scale. It’s a fully managed, multiregion, multimaster, durable database with built-in security, backup and restore, and in-memory caching for internet-scale applications.

Amazon Aurora

Amazon Aurora is a MySQL and PostgreSQL compatible relational database built for the cloud, that combines the performance and availability of traditional enterprise databases with the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of open source databases.

Amazon Redshift

Amazon Redshift is a fully managed, petabyte-scale data warehouse service in the cloud. You can start with just a few hundred gigabytes of data and scale to a petabyte or more. This enables you to use your data to acquire new insights for your business and customers.

Amazon Elasticache

Amazon ElastiCache offers fully managed Redis and Memcached. Seamlessly deploy, operate, and scale popular open source compatible in-memory data stores. Build data-intensive apps or improve the performance of your existing apps by retrieving data from high throughput and low latency in-memory data stores.

Considerations for Choosing the Right AWS Database Service 

Data Type and Structure

When running your database on AWS, the type and structure of your data are fundamental considerations. AWS offers both SQL and NoSQL database services. SQL databases like Amazon RDS are relational and use structured query language (SQL) for defining and manipulating the data. They are ideal for handling structured data and complex queries.

On the other hand, NoSQL databases like Amazon DynamoDB are non-relational and can store structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data. They are perfect for dealing with large volumes of data where read and write operations are more important than complex transactions.

Performance Requirements

Performance is a crucial factor when choosing a database service. If your application requires high-speed read and write operations, Amazon DynamoDB (a NoSQL database service) could be your best choice. Its millisecond latency makes it ideal for applications that need to process large amounts of data quickly.

On the other hand, if your application involves complex transactions or queries, then a relational database like Amazon RDS would suit your needs better. RDS supports six popular database engines, each with its unique strengths and performance characteristics, so you can choose one that aligns with your application’s specific needs.

Budget and Cost

AWS offers a variety of pricing models for its database services. For instance, Amazon RDS uses a pay-as-you-go model that lets you pay only for the capacity you use. On the other hand, DynamoDB uses a provisioned capacity model where you pay for the read and write capacity units that you provision. Amazon RDS with the Aurora database engine runs in a serverless model and is priced according to actual resources consumed.

To manage costs effectively, it’s essential to understand these pricing models and choose a service that aligns with your budget and workload. AWS also offers cost management tools that can help you track your spending and optimize costs.

Scalability Needs

Scalability is another critical factor when running your database on AWS. If your application’s data requirements are likely to grow over time, you need a database service that can scale seamlessly. AWS database services offer different scalability options to cater to various needs.

For instance, Amazon RDS provides both vertical and horizontal scaling. Vertical scaling involves increasing the capacity of your existing database instance, while horizontal scaling involves adding more database instances to distribute the load.

On the other hand, DynamoDB provides automatic scaling where AWS adjusts your provisioned capacity based on the actual traffic patterns. This feature can be invaluable if your application experiences unpredictable traffic.


In conclusion, running your database on AWS offers a comprehensive, scalable, and cost-effective solution for managing a wide variety of data needs. With options like Amazon RDS, DynamoDB, Aurora, Redshift, and ElastiCache, AWS caters to different data types and structures, performance requirements, and budget constraints. The platform’s scalability, flexibility, enhanced security, and compliance features make it a robust choice for organizations of all sizes.

Whether you need a relational or non-relational database, high-speed performance, or cost-effective solutions, AWS has a service to meet those requirements. Its global infrastructure ensures high availability and disaster recovery, safeguarding your data against unforeseen events. The pay-as-you-go pricing model further enhances its appeal by allowing businesses to pay only for the resources they use, making it an efficient choice for both startups and established enterprises.

Ultimately, the decision to choose the right AWS database service depends on your specific application needs, data characteristics, performance demands, and budget. By carefully considering these factors and leveraging AWS’s diverse offerings, you can effectively run your database in a way that maximizes efficiency, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. AWS’s commitment to innovation and customer service ensures that you have the support and tools necessary to achieve your database management goals.

Author Bio: Gilad David Maayan

Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Imperva, Samsung NEXT, NetApp and Check Point, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership. Today he heads Agile SEO, the leading marketing agency in the technology industry.


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