Amazon's new Relational Database Service raises question

Users of Amazon's cloud computing services are buzzing about yesterday's announcement of Amazon's Relational Database Service. Through the and an by Jeff Barr, the company described the service as a "fully featured" MySQL 5.1 database, with 20 databases per AWS account, 1 TB of storage per database, and metrics (CPU utilization, free space, etc.) provided by Amazon's . Rates are charged by the DB instance hour, plus additional costs for data transfers, provisioned storage, and I/O requests. According to Amazon Web Services Vice President Adam Selipsky, the launch of RDS provides customers with another database option, besides the existing SimpleDB product and enterprise-grade database engines running on Amazon's EC2 service.

Clearly, the Amazon RDS announcement is a big deal for developers and DBAs familiar with relational databases and MySQL-based applications, as well as those who were critical of . But some SimpleDB supporters are wondering how the service will be affected by the introduction of Amazon RDS. The press release makes an effort to portray SimpleDB as a popular offering, and Barr's blog post describes the two services as complimentary, but users on the AWS forum have the long-term outlook for SimpleDB. "One has to wonder if it was worth the investment to learn how to build applications totally in the cloud with SimpleDB," said a user identified as Roger Moffat. "Will SimpleDB still be around in two years time?" Developer Mitch Garnaat, responding on the thread and , said Amazon Web Services treated SimpleDB as "a bit of a red-headed stepchild" without a clear or consistent strategy. However, Garnaat, who has been using SimpleDB and Amazon RDS since both products were in private beta, also believes that the two services are complimentary. "There are a lot of applications out there that can benefit from the lightweight, super-scalable, and easy to use qualities of SimpleDB," he said on his blog post. "MySQL simply can't compete on those dimensions."

In a follow-up phone call, Garnaat told the Standard that "there's been some tension within SimpleDB to make it more SQL-like," but he added that the introduction of RDS gives Amazon an opportunity to differentiate between the two offerings. Garnaat also said he believes there is a bigger potential market for RDS than SimpleDB, because so many applications are already built on top of MySQL and less coding is required to bring them into Amazon's cloud using RDS.

When asked by The Standard whether Amazon planned to change the SimpleDB service, Selipsky said no. He also stated that Amazon intended to "keep on investing" in SimpleDB.

: Amazon Web Services forums, Amazon Web Services blog and press release,,, phone call and emails with Mitch Garnaat,, phone call with Adam Selipsky and Kay Kinton of Amazon.