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Nov 22 2014

Dawning of a New Era? Amazon Introduces Aurora, the DB Engine for the Cloud

At its yearly AWS re:Invent conference, Amazon announced a range of fresh services, primarily featuring Aurora, a cloud-hosted, MySQL-compatible relational database, plus three developer tools called CodeDeploy, CodeCommit and CodePipeline.

Designed to outpace standard RDBMS, Aurora could be described as a kind of "MySQL on steroids" built on the strengths of the InnoDB storage engine. Unlike conventional MySQL DBs, it follows cloud-centric and scale-out design principles that allow for a five times better throughput (up to six million inserts and 30 million selects per minute) when combined with a virtualized storage layer running on dedicated SSDs. Aurora repairs disk failures in the background without loss of availability, including automatic detection of crashes and providing restart within 60 seconds, eclipsing the need for crash recovery or cache rebuild. In case of entire instance failure, Aurora shall automatically failover to one of up to 15 read replicas. Database management appears to be convenient, as Amazon has also automated most common administrative database tasks, limiting work to "a few clicks" in the AWS Management Console. With so much extra reliability built in, it's no surprise Amazon promises availability rates in excess of 99.99%.

According to Amazon's description, Aurora also circumvents a number of issues that make other DB systems hard to deploy, especially for small and medium enterprises: basic installations start with a rather modest 10 GB storage capacity and then scale automatically in 10 GB increments, up to a maximum size of 64 TB. That way, it's easy to avoid over-provisioning. What's more, Amazon's new cloud database also offers automated replication across three availability zones and automated backups to Amazon S3. With Aurora, Amazon RDS now supports five database engines, also including MySQL, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and PostgreSQL. A preview is currently available for customers who have rented space at AWS U.S. East. Regarding costs, Amazon aims for "for a price point one tenth" of that of other commercial databases, with on-demand pricing for high cost effectiveness.

Of the three new developer tools, CodeDeploy automates code deployments to Amazon EC2 instances, making it easier to rapidly release new features, avoid downtime during deployment, and handle complex application updates. CodeCommit, basically a 'hosting service' for source code and binaries stored in private Git repositories, simplifies code management and allows for collaborative software development and code sharing while at the same time protecting critical projects with built-in encryption. Finally, CodePipeline is a continuous delivery and release automation service supposed to enable smooth deployments that enables developers to define their own workflows from beginning to end, i.e. starting a project to the final software release. CodeDeploy is available immediately, at least in the U.S., whereas CodeCommit and CodePipeline won't be rolled out until early 2015.

For more information about Aurora, including pricing, please check Amazon's product page. CodeDeploy is available free of charge; users only have to pay for the AWS resources (EC2 instances and S3 buckets) they use. Additional info about CodeCommit and CodePipeline is distributed via email (registration required).


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