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10 DynamoDB Advantages & Disadvantages

Lahiru Hewawasam

Written by Lahiru Hewawasam

Published on August 8th, 2022

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    DynamoDB is one of the most popular and widely used NoSQL databases in today's market. It is a fully managed database offering and allows developers to focus on application development without worrying about managing the underlying infrastructure.

    It also offers single-digit response times, high availability, globally accessible tables, and enhances the usability and the user experience. Large well-renounced clients with millions of users currently leverage the features of DynamoDB for their applications to provide a flawless user experience.

    Although it provides those standout features, we need to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of DynamoDB before using it in our projects. So, let's discuss the pros and cons of DynamoDB to get a better understanding.

    Advantages Of Using DynamoDB

    1. Scalability

    DynamoDB provides virtually unlimited storage, and users can utilize it as required. In addition, it provides flexibility for the developers to only scale the database once the application starts accumulating data and not at the start. So, there is no need to have reserve storage when deploying the database.

    2. Seamless Data Replication

    By default, DynamoDB replicates table data in 3 availability zones within a single region. It allows you to easily recover from any disaster and avoid service disruptions.

    In addition, you can use DynamoDB global tables to replicate data across multiple regions (different geolocations) to achieve a higher level of redundancy.

    The data replication takes place in near real-time to ensure seamless failover during a disaster while minimizing the data lost.

    3. Fully Managed (Serverless)

    DynamoDB is a fully managed NoSQL database service that does not require users to maintain any underlying infrastructures. Instead, it allows users to focus on developing their applications. At the same time, AWS handles tedious tasks such as high availability, database upgrades, and even maintaining the physical infrastructure within their data centers.

    4. Secure

    The DynamoDB database service provides clear, demonstrated security guidelines while adhering to multiple globally recognized regulatory compliance like PCI DSS, HIPAA, and NIST.

    It is important to note that even though AWS secures the infrastructure of the database service, DynamoDB depends on the shared responsibility model and expects its users to securely configure their DynamoDB instances using the required security controls.

    DynamoDB also supports the integration with the AWS Identity and Access Management to enforce fine-grained access control to the database while using industry-accepted algorithms to encrypt the data.

    5. Fast Response Times

    One of the most talked about advantages of DynamoDB is the single-digit response times. These response times are significant since DynamoDB ensures lightning-fast response times at any scale.

    However, if these response times are not fast enough, you can useDynamoDB Accelerator (DAX) caching mechanism to decrease the latency of the DynamoDB operations.

    Disadvantages Of Using DynamoDB

    1. Limited Querying Options

    Even though DynamoDB can store large amounts of data, querying data from within a DynamoDB database is tedious due to the limited querying options that the service provides.

    The service relies on the indexes for querying tasks and does not allow querying if no indexes are available. An alternative is to scan the entire table to query the data. However, this operation requires a significant amount of reading units which becomes an expensive task once the database scales up.

    2. Difficult To Predict Costs

    DynamoDB allows users to select a suitable capacity allocation method depending on the use case.

    The users may opt for the provisioned capacity model if the application has a predictable amount of traffic and requests. In this model, DynamoDB allocates a specified amount of read and write units, and it will keep the resources available even if there is no significant utilization.

    The on-demand capacity allocation model automatically adjusts the read and write capacity based on the number of requests sent to the database service. This model suits well for applications that have unpredictable spikes of requests.

    Even though the flexibility of the on-demand model allows for seamless scaling, one of the significant drawbacks of using this model is its unpredictable and expensive costs.

    3. Unable to Use Table Joins

    DynamoDB has limited options for querying the data within its tables and restricts the complexity of the queries.

    The database service makes it impossible to query information from multiple tables as it does not support table joins. It becomes a significant drawback since the developers cannot perform complex queries on the data, which are possible in some other competitive products.

    4. Limited Storage Capacities For Items

    DynamoDB sets restrictions on most components, which is no different from the limits set for each item size within a DynamoDB table.

    The size limit for an item is 400KB, and it is essential to note that the users cannot increase this value in any way.

    5. On-Premise Deployments

    DynamoDB is one of the most successful cloud-native, fully managed database services available in today's market. The service is available for all AWS users keen to deploy their databases on the AWS cloud.

    Even though the solution has many benefits, one of the major drawbacks is that the solution lacks an on-premise deployment model and is only available on the AWS cloud. This limitation does not allow users to use DynamoDB for applications that require an on-premise database.

    Although DynamoDB does not offer an on-premise deployment for production environments, it offers an on-premise deployment for development or testing. But, this deployment does not have the same high speeds we expect from DynamoDB and is strictly only for testing.

    Conclusion

    In this article, I have discussed some of the key benefits that make DynamoDB an appealing solution and some drawbacks that limit certain aspects of deployments. I hope this article will help you to decide the suitability of DunamoDB for your application. Thank you for reading!

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