Serverless Databases after re:Invent

By Chris Coombs

That’s a wrap for re:Invent 2018! Whilst Arjen will no doubt be providing us with the low down on all things containers1 in due course, I’ve hijacked his excellent blog to bring you a short guest post on serverless database news.

Until re:Invent this week, AWS had only one serverless database offering - Aurora Serverless (MySQL compatible). It’s true that there was some disagreement as to whether it was truly serverless,

but in the flurry of announcements leading up to re:Invent, the Aurora Serverless Data API was released in beta (allowing Lambda to call Aurora Serverless directly over HTTP); making Aurora Serverless irrefutably 100% approved serverless! “Chris, but what about DynamoDB?”; well sure. it’s fantastic. It’s one of my favourite AWS services, but sadly it wasn’t serverless… until now!

Whilst there aren’t any serverless police, there are 4 generally agreed upon rules for something to be considered serverless, namely:

  • no servers to provision,
  • scale with usage,
  • availability and fault tolerance built in and
  • never pay for idle

Whilst Aurora Serverless always satisfied all of these requirements, with DynamoDB you paid for read/write capacity regardless of whether or not you used it, violating the ’never pay for idle’ rule. With DynamoDB On-Demand you don’t need to specify read/write capacity or bother with auto-scaling rules, rather you pay per million write/read requests consumed (about $1.42 USD and $0.28 USD respectively in ap-southeast-2). Yes, you read that right, it’s available in Sydney at launch! Sadly, there isn’t CloudFormation support yet - but you can’t have everything. For an in depth look at DynamoDB On-Demand in action, please check out the AWS announcement post*.

I hope you’re all as excited about DynamoDB becoming truly serverless as I am. No more over/under provisioning, it will just work, like all serverless things should. Thanks for reading, Arjen back over to you!


  1. and YAML… and Python [return]
Chris Coombs is an AWS Ambassador and has the questionable honour of being the first guest author on this blog. He believes that containers are overrated, and for some reason thinks that JSON is more readable than YAML. Follow him on Twitter to get regular updates on his Switch usage.
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