Many people want to move to an Amazon environment but are unsure what AWS service makes the most sense (EC2, RDS, Aurora). For database services, the tiering at Amazon starts with EC2, then moves up to RDS, and on to Aurora. Amazon takes on more of the implementation and management of the database As you move up the tiers. This limits the optimization options. Obviously, moving up the tiers increases basic costs, but there are tradeoffs at each level to consider.
- EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) is a basic cloud platform. It provides the user with complete control of the compute environment, while reducing your need to monitor and manage hardware. From a database perspective, you can do almost anything in EC2 that you could do running a database on your own hardware. You can tweak OS and database settings, plus do all of the normal database optimization work you would do in a bare metal environment. In EC2, you can run a single server, master/slave, or a cluster, and you can use MySQL, MongoDB, or any other product. You can use AWS Snapshot Manager to take backups, or you can use another backup tool. This option is ideal if you want all the flexibility of running your own hardware without the hassles of daily hardware maintenance.
- RDS (Relational Data Service) makes it easy to set up a relational database in the cloud. It offers similar resizing capabilities to EC2, but also automates a lot of tasks. RDS supports Aurora (more on that later), Postgres, MySQL, MariaDB, Oracle, and MSSQL. RDS simplifies deployment and automates some maintenance tasks. This means that you are limited in terms of the tweaks that you can implement at the OS and database configuration level. This means you will focus on query and schema changes to optimize a database in this environment. RDS also includes automated backups and provides options for read replicas that you can spread across multiple availability zones. You must consider and manage all these are all items in the EC2 world. This choice is great if you are looking to implement a database but don’t want (or know how) to take on a lot of the tasks, such as backups and replication setup, that are needed for a stable and highly available environment.
- Aurora is one of the database options available through RDS. You might hear people refer to it either as Aurora or RDS Aurora (they’re both the same). With Aurora, Amazon takes on even more of the configuration and management options. This limits your optimization capabilities even more. It also means that there are far fewer things to worry about since Amazon handles so much of the administration. Aurora is MySQL-compatible, and is great if you want the power and convenience of MySQL with a minimum of effort on the hardware side. Aurora is designed to automatically detect database crashes and restart without the need for crash recovery or to rebuild the database cache. If the entire instance fails, Aurora will automatically failover to one of up to 15 read replicas.
With data in the cloud, security becomes a bigger concern. You continue to govern access to your content, platform, applications, systems ,and networks, just like you would with data stored in your own datacenter. Amazon’s cloud offerings also support highly secure environments, like HIPAA and PCI compliance. They have designed the cloud environment to be a secure database environment while maintaining the necessary access for use and administration, even in these more regulated environments.
Storing data in the cloud is becoming more common. Amazon offers multiple platform options and allows for easy scalability, availability, and reliability.