Amazon DynamoDB – a Fast and Scalable NoSQL Database Service Designed for Internet Scale Applications

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.(低延迟平均延迟可以<10ms,SSD,高可用性和持久性,支持provisioned throughput确保稳定的吞吐)

History of NoSQL at Amazon – Dynamo

The ecommerce platform consists of hundreds of decoupled services developed and managed in a decentralized fashion. Each service encapsulates its own data and presents a hardened API for others to use. Most importantly, direct database access to the data from outside its respective service is not allowed. This architectural pattern was a response to the scaling challenges that had challenged through its first 5 years, when direct database access was one of the major bottlenecks in scaling and operating the business. While a service-oriented architecture addressed the problems of a centralized database architecture, each service was still using traditional data management systems. The growth of Amazon’s business meant that many of these services needed more scalable database solutions.(Amazon.com内部所有的架构都变成了service-oriented,但是每个service依然需要可扩展的数据库解决方案)

Lessons learned from Amazon's Dynamo


Dynamo has been in use by a number of core services in the ecommerce platform, and their engineers have been very satisfied by its performance and incremental scalability. However, we never saw much adoption beyond these core services. This was remarkable because although Dynamo was originally built to serve the needs of the shopping cart, its design and implementation were much broader and based on input from many other service architects. As we spoke to many senior engineers and service owners, we saw a clear pattern start to emerge in their explanations of why they didn't adopt Dynamo more broadly: while Dynamo gave them a system that met their reliability, performance, and scalability needs, it did nothing to reduce the operational complexity of running large database systems. Since they were responsible for running their own Dynamo installations, they had to become experts on the various components running in multiple data centers. Also, they needed to make complex tradeoff decisions between consistency, performance, and reliability. This operational complexity was a barrier that kept them from adopting Dynamo.


During this period, several other systems appeared in the Amazon ecosystem that did meet their requirements for simplified operational complexity, notably Amazon S3 and Amazon SimpleDB. These were built as managed web services that eliminated the operational complexity of managing systems while still providing extremely high durability. Amazon engineers preferred to use these services instead of managing their own databases like Dynamo, even though Dynamo's functionality was better aligned with their applications’ needs.

开发者最需要的还是Dynamo as Service.

With Dynamo we had taken great care to build a system that met the requirements of our engineers. After evaluations, it was often obvious that Dynamo was ideal for many database use cases. But … we learned that engineers found the prospect of running a large software system daunting and instead looked for less ideal design alternatives that freed them from the burden of managing databases and allowed them to focus on their applications.

It became obvious that developers strongly preferred simplicity to fine-grained control as they voted "with their feet" and adopted cloud-based AWS solutions, like Amazon S3 and Amazon SimpleDB, over Dynamo. Dynamo might have been the best technology in the world at the time but it was still software you had to run yourself. And nobody wanted to learn how to do that if they didn’t have to. Ultimately, developers wanted a service.

History of NoSQL at Amazon - SimpleDB


Introducing DynamoDB

We concluded that an ideal solution would combine the best parts of the original Dynamo design (incremental scalability, predictable high performance) with the best parts of SimpleDB (ease of administration of a cloud service, consistency, and a table-based data model that is richer than a pure key-value store). These architectural discussions culminated in Amazon DynamoDB, a new NoSQL service that we are excited to release today.(如何结合Dynamo的优势和SimpleDB成功的经验,以及改进SimpleDB的缺陷)

通过增加Provisioned Throughput机制来满足用户可预测的性能需求。

Cloud-based systems have invented solutions to ensure fairness and present their customers with uniform performance, so that no burst load from any customer should adversely impact others. This is a great approach and makes for many happy customers, but often does not give a single customer the ability to ask for higher throughput if they need it.

As satisfied as engineers can be with the simplicity of cloud-based solutions, they would love to specify the request throughput they need and let the system reconfigure itself to meet their requirements. Without this ability, engineers often have to carefully manage caching systems to ensure they can achieve low-latency and predictable performance as their workloads scale. This introduces complexity that takes away some of the simplicity of using cloud-based solutions.

The number of applications that need this type of performance predictability is increasing: online gaming, social graphs applications, online advertising, and real-time analytics to name a few. AWS customers are building increasingly sophisticated applications that could benefit from a database that can give them fast, predictable performance that exactly matches their needs.

Amazon DynamoDB’s answer to this problem is “Provisioned Throughput.” Customers can now specify the request throughput capacity they require for a given table. Behind the scenes, DynamoDB will allocate sufficient resources to the table to predictably achieve this throughput with low-latency performance. Throughput reservations are elastic, so customers can increase or decrease the throughput capacity of a table on-demand using the AWS Management Console or the DynamoDB APIs.