Table of Contents

Introduction

Building large-scale applications requires a solid data management strategy and a database that can handle large amounts of data with consistent, low-latency performance. High-traffic applications like e-commerce platforms, gaming backends, and social media networks need a database solution that can efficiently manage millions of requests per second without sacrificing speed or reliability. For these demanding requirements, Amazon DynamoDB is an excellent choice.

As a fully managed database service, DynamoDB is built to deliver fast and predictable performance at any scale. Its ability to scale seamlessly, maintain high performance, and integrate with other AWS services makes it an invaluable tool for managing data in today’s fast-paced digital world.

Amazon DynamoDB, AWS Database, NoSQL Database, DynamoDB key features and benefits
Source: AWS Docs

What is Amazon DynamoDB

Amazon DynamoDB is a fully managed NoSQL database service from AWS, designed to provide high performance, scalability, and reliability for applications requiring consistent, low-latency data access. It’s ideal for various use cases, including web and mobile applications, gaming backends, and IoT. Amazon DynamoDB is a key-value and document database, capable of handling complex data structures with a primary key. AWS manages all serverless administrative tasks, such as hardware provisioning, setup, configuration, replication, software patching, and cluster scaling, making it easy for you to focus on your application development.

Key Features of Amazon DynamoDB

Amazon DynamoDB offers a range of powerful features that make it an ideal choice for developers looking to build high-performance, scalable, and reliable applications. Here are some of the key features that set Amazon DynamoDB apart:

  • Performance at Scale: DynamoDB can handle over 10 trillion requests per day and support peaks of more than 20 million requests per second.
  • Serverless Architecture: Automatically scales up and down to meet application demand, eliminating the need to manage server infrastructure.
  • Built-in Security: Provides encryption at rest and in transit, as well as integration with AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) for fine-grained access control.
  • Global Tables: Enables multi-region, multi-master replication for globally distributed applications.
  • Automatic Backups: Supports on-demand and continuous backups to protect your data.
  • Integration with AWS Services: Seamlessly integrates with other AWS services like AWS Lambda, AWS Glue, Amazon Kinesis, AWS CloudTrail, and more, enhancing its functionality and ease of use.

How Amazon DynamoDB Pricing Works?

Amazon DynamoDB charges for reading, writing, and storing data in your tables, as well as for any optional features you enable. There are two pricing options available: on-demand capacity mode and provisioned capacity mode. These pricing models give you the flexibility to choose the best option for your workload.

Amazon DynamoDB pricing, AWS NoSQL database pricing, Amazon cloud database
Source: AWS Docs

DynamoDB Pricing for on-demand capacity

In on-demand capacity mode, you pay for the read and write requests your application makes, making it ideal for workloads with unpredictable traffic patterns. This mode scales automatically with your usage, so you only pay for what you use, which simplifies management. You can start without specifying read or write capacity, as AWS DynamoDB will instantly adjust to meet your workload’s requirements.

On-demand capacity mode is ideal if you:

  • Create new tables with uncertain workloads
  • Experience unpredictable application traffic
  • Prefer the convenience of paying only for what you use

Key Terms to Consider while Calculating DynamoDB Pricing for On-demand Capacity

Amazon DynamoDB uses several units to determine charges for different types of requests:

  • Read Request Units: These are billed for API calls to read data from your table. Read requests can be strongly consistent, eventually consistent, or transactional. A strongly consistent read request for an item up to 4 KB requires one read request unit. If the item is larger than 4 KB, additional units are needed. For instance, an 8 KB item needs two read request units for a strongly consistent read, one for an eventually consistent read, and four for a transactional read.
  • Write Request Units: These are charged for API calls to write data to your table. A standard write request unit covers writing an item up to 1 KB. Larger items require more units. For example, writing a 3 KB item needs three write request units, and six if the write is transactional.
  • Replicated Write Request Units: With global tables, your data is written to multiple AWS Regions. Each write in the local Region and the replicated Regions incurs a cost.
  • Streams Read Request Units: These are charged for GetRecords API calls to Amazon DynamoDB Streams. Each unit can return up to 1 MB of data.
  • Transactional Read/Write Requests: These ensure all operations in a transaction succeed or fail together, and they cost more than standard reads and writes.
  • Change Data Capture Units: AWS DynamoDB can capture item-level changes and replicate them to other AWS services. Each write-up to 1 KB requires one change data capture unit, with larger items needing more units.
  • DynamoDB Table Classes: DynamoDB offers two table classes to help optimize costs. The Standard class is the default and recommended for most workloads. The Standard-Infrequent Access (Standard-IA) class is optimized for data that is accessed infrequently, where storage is the primary cost. You can choose the most cost-effective class based on your storage needs and data access patterns.

DynamoDB Pricing for provisioned capacity

Provisioned capacity mode allows you to specify the number of reads and writes per second your application needs, making it a cost-effective choice for applications with predictable traffic. You can reserve capacity to save money and have control over the required throughput, adjusting it as needed. Additionally, you can use auto-scaling to automatically adjust your table’s capacity based on the specified utilization rate, ensuring optimal performance while reducing costs.

Provisioned capacity mode is optimal if you:

  • Have predictable application traffic
  • Run applications with consistent or gradually increasing traffic
  • Can forecast capacity needs to manage costs effectively

Key Terms to Consider while Calculating DynamoDB Pricing for Provisioned Capacity

  • Read Capacity Unit (RCU): Each API call to read data is a read request. One RCU allows for one strongly consistent read per second for items up to 4 KB, two eventually consistent reads per second for items up to 4 KB, or one transactional read per second for items up to 4 KB.
  • Write Capacity Unit (WCU): Each API call to write data is a write request. One WCU supports one standard write per second for items up to 1 KB, while two WCUs are needed for one transactional write per second for items up to 1 KB. For example, writing a 3 KB item requires 3 WCUs for a standard write or 6 WCUs for a transactional write.
  • Replicated Write Capacity Unit: For DynamoDB global tables, writes are automatically replicated across multiple AWS Regions, with costs incurred in each Region.
  • Streams Read Request Unit: Each GetRecords API call to DynamoDB Streams counts as one stream read request unit, with each unit returning up to 1 MB of data.
  • Transactional Read/Write Requests: These requests ensure that all operations in a transaction succeed or fail together, costing more than standard reads and writes.
  • Change Data Capture Units: Amazon DynamoDB captures item-level changes and replicates them to other AWS services. Each write-up to 1 KB requires one change data capture unit, with larger items needing more units.
  • DynamoDB Table Classes: DynamoDB offers two table classes: Standard, which is the default and recommended for most workloads, and Standard-Infrequent Access (Standard-IA), optimized for data that is accessed infrequently, where storage costs dominate. Choose the table class that best fits your storage needs and data access patterns for optimal cost efficiency.

Amazon DynamoDB Free Tier Charges

The AWS Free Tier allows you to gain hands-on experience with AWS services at no cost. Included in the Free Tier are several Amazon DynamoDB benefits, calculated monthly on a per-region, per-payer account basis:

  • 25 GB of data storage for tables using the Amazon DynamoDB Standard table class
  • 2.5 million stream read requests from DynamoDB Streams
  • 1 GB of data transfer out (15 GB for your first 12 months) aggregated across all AWS Services and Regions (except China and GovCloud)

Both pricing on-demand capacity pricing and provisioned capacity pricing models are designed to provide flexibility and cost efficiency, allowing you to choose the best fit for your specific application needs. Whether you prefer the simplicity and scalability of on-demand pricing or the control and potential savings of provisioned capacity, Amazon DynamoDB offers options to suit your workload.

Additional Costs to Consider While Using Amazon DynamoDB

When using Amazon DynamoDB, it’s essential to account for several additional costs beyond the basic read and write capacity units. Understanding these costs will help you manage your budget and optimize your DynamoDB usage effectively.

Data Transfer Costs

Data transfer costs can accumulate when moving data in and out of Amazon DynamoDB. Transfers between DynamoDB and other AWS services within the same AWS Region are typically free. However, transferring data across different AWS Regions incurs charges. It’s crucial to consider these costs, especially if your application involves significant data movement between Regions.

Backup and Restore Costs

DynamoDB offers built-in backup and restore features to safeguard your data. While on-demand backups provide a quick way to protect your tables, they do come with additional costs. The pricing is based on the size of the data being backed up and the duration for which the backups are stored. Similarly, restoring data from backups incurs costs, depending on the size of the restored data. Regularly reviewing your backup strategy can help you manage these expenses.

Global Tables Costs

Global Tables in Amazon DynamoDB provide a fully managed, multi-region, and multi-master database solution. This feature allows you to replicate your data across multiple AWS Regions automatically. While Global Tables offer high availability and low-latency access to data, they also come with additional costs. These costs include replicated write capacity units for each write operation in the local and replicated Regions, as well as data transfer charges between Regions. Assessing the need for Global Tables and their associated costs is vital for effective budgeting.

Conclusion

Amazon DynamoDB is perfect for large-scale applications needing fast, reliable performance. Its serverless architecture lets developers focus on innovation without managing infrastructure. With automatic scaling, built-in security, and seamless AWS integration, DynamoDB handles diverse workloads efficiently. Choose on-demand capacity for unpredictable traffic and provisioned capacity for predictable workloads to optimize costs. Be mindful of additional costs for data transfer, backup, and Global Tables, which can impact your budget. The AWS Free Tier provides a cost-free way to start with DynamoDB. Understanding Amazon DynamoDB’s features, pricing models, and costs allows you to build scalable, high-performance applications for e-commerce, gaming, or social media, ensuring flexibility and reliability for success.

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Heera Ravindran

Content Marketer at Economize. An avid writer and a zealous reader who specializes in technical content and has a passion for all things Cloud and FinOps.

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