Billy Bosworth

My thoughts on Amazon’s DynamoDB

By Billy BosworthJanuary 18, 2012

Earlier today Amazon announced DynamoDB, a hosted database for Amazon Web Services, which prompted several friends and colleagues of mine to ping me for my thoughts.  The reason they asked is because Cassandra was initially created as the combination of Amazon Dynamo’s fully distributed architecture and Google Big Table’s rich data model.  So, naturally, they wondered if I saw this as a competitor to Cassandra.  I don’t typically get into the “feeds and speeds” differences in offerings, but if you are interested in that, I suggest you take a look at this post from Jonathan Ellis, the Apache Cassandra Chairman.  For me, I’ll share a few of my thoughts at the business level.

Personally, I have never believed that other post-relational (aka NoSQL/Hadoop) database companies were our primary competition.  The brute fact of the matter is that if you put us all together, we are still not statistically relevant compared to the overall DBMS market.  In order to change that, we need to change the ecosystem itself.  Many decision makers who are excited about big data technologies are also frustrated at the lack of human resources who really know how to leverage them.  That isn’t just about ease of use either.  It’s about a fundamental shift in thinking to solve problems in new and interesting ways.

When it comes to that kind of ecosystem evolution, we need more momentum than any of us new players can generate on our own — or even collectively.  That’s why I got excited last year when Oracle entered the market with a real-time, NoSQL solution of their own.  Today, I feel the same sense of excitement about Amazon’s announcement.  Their release is another huge validation stamp on what now looks like an irreversible path toward the need for real-time, big data databases.  It is a big step on the journey toward building a massive ecosystem of people who understand how to harness the power of these new technologies.

At this point you may say: “All well and good, but he’s dodging the question… are they competitive?”

Sure they are.  So is every other database technology out there today, in some form or fashion.  And you know who wins when we are all competing?  Customers!  It forces us all to create better and better solutions, like what we’re doing here at DataStax to leverage Cassandra in really exciting ways, not to mention the massive amount of time and improvements that have been put into Cassandra itself.

Competition is always exciting.  So much so, that if no real competition exists, we humans will go to great lengths to manufacture it through games and contests!  (Just put two kids in a room for a while and watch what happens.)  In the big data world, it’s more than exciting … it’s necessary.

I had only one real personal fear coming into this market: That I would sink a big portion of my life into something that would never take hold in the mainstream.  I suspect that would be a truly awful ending for all of us in this space. But thanks to companies like Amazon and Oracle, that feels highly unlikely now, and that is a great thing.



  1. ByBe says:

    Really Good Post Datastax, I just read the DynamoDB press release, looks alright but with certain S3 services I’ve used which left me less than impressed I still have to see a working example how well it preforms on a day to day level.

    I’ve +1 ya, thanks for sharing 😉

    Steve McCoy Team Leader
    ByBe Web Design Bournemouth UK


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