Your DBA will be glad that you're using RDS
Updated March 08, 2021

Your DBA will be glad that you're using RDS

Michael Jenkins | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS)

Amazon RDS is our default solution for running databases in the cloud. RDS provides the data layer for our web applications that require data persistence. RDS is widely used by application development teams throughout the company. RDS allows us to rapidly deploy databases, operate them in a manner that is generally hands off, and with extended features like Amazon Aurora, take advantage of capabilities like automatic backups, multi-AZ read replicas, and simple failovers.
  • For engineers with experience managing databases, setup is simple. And for the uninitiated, the RDS console interface becomes intuitive with some practice.
  • Not having the maintain the underlying infrastructure is a great benefit of using RDS. Patching and backups can be scheduled from the console and from then on are pretty much automated.
  • Right-sizing the DB instance to perform optimally with an application can be a very simple procedure. If a DB instance is not struggling to keep up, the instance size can be scaled up with just a few clicks.
  • Baseline configurations are generally sane for most RDS instances. This allows novice developers and engineers to get the most out of the service without being a complete database administrator.
  • Experienced DBAs may find RDS limiting in some areas. There is no direct access to the underlying servers so OS level tweaks may be out of bounds.
  • Getting logs from a database can be a challenge. Other services may need to be turned on (CloudWatch, for example) to get access logging, etc.
  • While rudimentary logging is included with RDS, users must pay a premium to get more in depth logs (in particular, fine grained logging in terms of events per minute). This is not a bad thing, since you get what you pay for, but some users find it annoying to have to pay extra for metrics with higher fidelity.
  • RDS has increased the stability of our applications and the dependability of the database layer in the complete system. In most cases when something is wrong with the app, we know it won't be the database.
  • Using the automatic backup and failover capabilities of Aurora RDS, we have more effective high availability and disaster recovery options.
In this response, I'm specifically comparing RDS to running a database on an EC2 server. With EC2, the team owns all of the administrative and operational responsibilities. Patching the operating system patching and database software become another task that developers or system admins have to take on. Running a DB on EC2 does have the benefit of having more access to the server and DB configurations, but the benefit of being able to tweak a DB for a few more milliseconds of performance is usually not worth the effort for most applications.

On the other hand, RDS is a completely managed service. What is lost in access to the database server is gained in dependability and simplified operation.
I have only had good experiences in working with AWS support. I will admit that my experience comes from the benefit of having a premium tier of support but even working with free-tier accounts I have not had problems getting help with AWS products when needed. And most often, the docs do a pretty good job of explaining how to operate a service so a quick spin through the docs has been useful in solving problems.

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RDS is well suited for application environments where the developers don't have time to worry about the database. If the application requires a DB that is "fire and forget," RDS can be a rock solid implementation. This is particularly true for teams that may not have DBA resources or don't have a team member with extensive database admin skills. With some basic understanding, teams can stand up a DB in RDS and move on to the task of developing and maintaining the applications that use the DB.

RDS may be less appropriate for high performance applications where every level of the systems needs to be finely tuned. On the one hand, a novice developer may be able to get the required performance by scaling up to a large instance size while a proficient DBA could get the same performance from a finely tuned database running on an EC2 instance where access to the OS is available.

Pricing might also be a factor against RDS for teams that have limited budgets. Again, higher performing DB instances might be priced slightly more than the same DB running on a stand-alone server.

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