Amazon vs Oracle: a database war

At the Amazon Web Services (AWS) re:Invent conference in Las Vegas this week, AWS announced several important services. But most important is Amazon Aurora, a new high-performance database engine.

AWS announced several new products yesterday, including:

  • AWS Key Management Service, for encryption security.
  • AWS Config to give users to full visibility on all AWS resources.
  • AWS CodeCommit, a managed code repository in the cloud, due next year.
  • AWS CodeDeploy, a free code deployment service.
  • Amazon Aurora, a MySQL-compatible, relational database engine.
Amazon AWS logo


Aurora is now the fifth database engine in the AWS RDS service that includes MySQL, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and PostgreSQL. The company says 

Amazon Aurora provides up to five times better performance than MySQL at a price point one tenth that of a commercial database while delivering similar performance and availability.

Anurag Gupta, GM of Amazon Aurora, said the product broke with the monolithic mainframe model of relational databases because it was architected using existing AWS services such as S3 storage, EC2 and VPC. Like other built-for-the-cloud products, Aurora incorporates a service-oriented, and decoupled, architecture.

Aurora is multi-tenant, scale out and self-managed. But the key issue AWS stressed is the enterprise-class performance and availability of Aurora:

  • Runs 6 million inserts per minute, 30 million selects per minute.
  • Data replicated six ways across three availability zones.
  • Automatically and continuously backed up to S3, which is designed to offer 99.999999999 percent availability.
  • Crash recovery takes seconds — no redo log replay.
  • Database cache survives a database restart.

The cost, on an r3.large EC2 instance — which sports two virtual CPUs running on 15.25GiB of RAM with 32GB of storage — is $0.29 per hour.

The Storage Bits take

If it wasn't already obvious, AWS intends to make running your own data center as quaint as generating your own electricity. With the advent of Aurora, AWS is knocking on the datacenter's door, asking to host the most business-critical apps.

In his speech, Andy Jassy, SVP of AWS, specifically called out the "expensive and punitive" licensing model of major database vendors. With pay-as-you-go pricing, Aurora offers a stark and refreshing change.

The pricing is going to force IT to seriously consider what AWS offers. Giving up some bells and whistles for 1/10th the cost makes any CFO's heart glad. 

Just as AWS has taken the wind out of the enterprise storage market, database vendors face a challenge to maintain their market share and gross margins. Oracle is the richest target, but they are only collateral damage in AWS's grand ambition to remake IT.

Comments welcome, as always.