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AWS Offers Aurora Cloud DB Service Compatible With PostgreSQL

By Jack M. Germain LinuxInsider ECT News Network
Oct 26, 2017 11:05 AM PT
amazon-web-services

Amazon Web Services on Tuesday announced the general availability of Amazon Aurora with PostgreSQL compatibility.

The service is now fully compatible with both MySQL and PostgreSQL, the company said.

AWS also announced that customers migrating to Amazon Aurora from another database can use the AWS Database Migration Service free of charge for the next six months.

Amazon Aurora is a cloud-optimized relational database that combines the speed and availability of high-end commercial databases with the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of open source databases.

Customers who use PostgreSQL databases can get up to several times better performance with scalability, durability, availability and security that is as good as or better than commercial databases at one-tenth the cost.

The added compatibility will give a sizable boost to Amazon's competitive position among cloud database service providers, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

"It puts AWS onto an equal footing with competitors," he told LinuxInsider.

IBM Cloud announced support for PostgreSQL and other open source databases on the IBM Power Systems program in June, King said, and Microsoft Azure announced an Azure dababase for PostgreSQL service in May.

"If its new service is a success, AWS could pick up new customers and entice existing clients to experiment with PostgreSQL migrations. Only time will tell," he added.

Power and Price

Aurora delivers the performance and availability of high-end commercial databases at one-tenth the cost, according to Amazon. Previously, customers using commercial databases have had to choose between performance and price when evaluating database solutions.

Commercial alternatives provide high performance but are expensive, complex to manage, have high lock-in and restrictive licensing terms, the company said. Open source databases such as PostgreSQL and MySQL require less capital expense -- but until now did not deliver the performance or availability of commercial databases.

"When we made Amazon Aurora available in 2015, for the first time, customers had a cost-effective and high-performance alternative to commercial databases like Oracle and SQL Server," said Raju Gulabani, vice president for databases, analytics and machine learning at AWS. "This is a big part of why Amazon Aurora is the fastest-growing service in the history of AWS."

The support for PostgreSQL provides users with a winning combination, said Andy Ellicott, chief marketing officer at Crate.io.

PostgreSQL is one of the most widely used and supported databases in the world, he told LinuxInsider.

"With this enhancement to Aurora, AWS has just opened the on-ramp for a flood of new cloud applications, especially for people struggling to boost performance or uptime of their on-premises PostgreSQL databases," Ellicott said.

What It Does

Amazon Aurora offers both the performance and availability of high-grade commercial databases at a cost more commonly associated with open source. Aurora provides support for PostgreSQL, complex SQL and NoSQL. It also offers JSON support and broad application language features.

Aurora's improved speed performance, compared to standard MySQL and PostgreSQL, comes from Amazon's use of a variety of software and hardware techniques to ensure the database is able to leverage available compute, memory and networking resources fully. Amazon Aurora storage automatically scales -- growing and rebalancing Input and Output across the fleet to provide consistent performance.

Aurora automatically replicates data across multiple availability zones and continuously backs up data to Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3).

It is designed to offer greater than 99.99 percent availability and to detect and recover from most database failures automatically, in less than 30 seconds, without crashing or needing to rebuild database caches.

Amazon Aurora continually monitors instance health; if there is a failure, it will failover to a read replica automatically, without loss of data.

Peak Performance

The Aurora service does not require upfront costs or commitments. Customers pay an hourly charge for each Amazon Aurora database instance they use. Users can scale storage capacity automatically, with no downtime or performance degradation.

Many consider PostgreSQL to be a more powerful database than MySQL and other open source database solutions, Pund-IT's King said.

"The new service will leverage AWS' common value prop of power [with] flexible service delivery that costs considerably less than implementing and supporting on-premises DB solutions," he added.

More than 1,000 Aurora service customers participated in a product preview that battle-tested PostgreSQL compatibility for Amazon Aurora, running millions of hours against their real-world application workloads, Amazon pointed out.

Participating companies included Verizon, Capital One, FINRA, Fannie Mae, C3 IOT, Urban Airship, FantasyDraft, BMC, Blackboard and Nielsen.

Acquiring Customers

PostgreSQL includes features similar to Oracle's DB, including multiversioning, noted King.

That is one of the reasons that when AWS announced its intention to support PostgreSQL last November, the company joked semi-seriously about going after Oracle's enterprise clients, he recalled.

"It is no surprise that AWS is positioning the new service as a worthy alternative to proprietary databases like Oracle and SQL Server," King said, "but it is unclear to me how many serious takers there will be."

Amazon expects an active influx of waiting new customers. The growth of Amazon Aurora's MySQL-compatible edition has far exceeded the company's expectations, said Amazon's Gulabani.

"Many of our enterprise customers anxious to move on from their old-world database providers have been waiting for Amazon Aurora's PostgreSQL-compatible edition to launch into general availability," he said. "We're excited to help these customers take another step toward database freedom."

Growth Opportunity

A growing group of IT managers has opted for MySQL to avoid the problems of working with a lock-in vendor like Oracle, observed Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

Oracle did a pretty good job of killing MySQL after buying Sun Microsystems, he told LinuxInsider, but the demand for a low-cost, high-quality alternative remained.

Now Amazon is going after that opportunity, Enderle said, noting that it has a brand that companies trust, and it should be able to build an advocacy base that eventually will allow it to take on Oracle aggressively.

All they need to do is "figure out an acceptable migration strategy from Oracle, or just go after those IT shops that have been denied MySQL support," Enderle said.

Amazon has the resources to create a viable and very powerful Oracle alternative, he emphasized.

On paper this makes Amazon a player in the relational database space. Of course, it still has to execute, Enderle said, but "betting against Amazon execution has not been a good bet of late."


Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open source technologies. He has written numerous reviews of Linux distros and other open source software. Email Jack.


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