What is Amazon RDS (Relational Database Service)?


Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS), is a distributed relational database service that operates in the cloud. Its purpose is to simplify the configuration, management, and scalability of relational databases for application use.

It automates essential administrative tasks such as database software patching, backup handling, and point-in-time recovery. 

Additionally, it enables the expansion of storage and compute resources via a single API call to the AWS control plane, ensuring on-demand scalability. However, as a managed service, AWS does not grant an SSH connection to the underlying virtual machine.

How does Amazon RDS Work?

Amazon RDS simplifies the setup, management, and scaling of relational databases. It’s designed to offload many of the complex administrative tasks associated with database management, allowing developers to focus on building and deploying applications.

Here is how it works in further detail:

  • Amazon RDS allows users to easily create managed database instances for popular database engines like MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, and SQL Server. The database servers run on isolated virtual machines for security and performance. 
  • RDS handles the infrastructure and configuration details, such as installing the database software, deploying across multiple availability zones for high availability, and managing backups and updates. Users simply specify the compute and storage requirements for the database.
  • Database instances can be accessed and administered via the RDS console, API, or standard database client tools and libraries. RDS also integrates with other AWS services like EC2, S3, CloudWatch, and VPC. 
  • For scaling needs, RDS makes it easy to provision read replicas and turn on multi-AZ deployments. Storage and computing can be adjusted online as needed. RDS encrypts data at rest and in transit to ensure security.

In summary, RDS automates and manages all the complex low-level database administrative tasks while providing users full access to the relational database for queries, transactions, and application integration.

What Are the Features of RDS?

The main features of RDS include:

  • Automated database provisioning, patching, backups, and failure detection. Removes much of the administrative burden – RDS automates time-consuming admin tasks like deploying database instances, applying security patches, performing backups, and detecting failures. This simplifies database management.
  • Managed deployments for popular engines like MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, SQL Server, and MariaDB – RDS provides fully managed deployments for major database engines, including MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, SQL Server, and MariaDB, eliminating the need to manually install and maintain database software.
  • Scalable compute and storage that can be adjusted with a single API call – Compute and storage capacity for RDS databases can easily be adjusted up or down via simple API calls, allowing resources to scale instantly based on application needs. 
  • Multi-AZ deployments for high availability and automatic failover – RDS enables deploying database instances across multiple availability zones for greater fault tolerance and automatic failover in the event of a downtime or outage.
  • Read replicas to scale read performance horizontally – Read replicas can extend read scaling and performance for RDS databases by replicating data across multiple read-only instances.
  • Encryption at rest and in transit to secure sensitive data – RDS encrypts stored data and data in transit between databases and applications to provide an additional layer of security for sensitive information.
  • Integration with other AWS services like EC2, S3, VPC, CloudWatch, and Lambda – RDS integrates closely with other AWS services, allowing unified management, security, and connectivity across a customer’s AWS environment.

What Types of Storage Does Amazon RDS Provide?

Amazon RDS provides various types of storage options to accommodate different database workloads and performance requirements. The storage types available in Amazon RDS include:

1. General Purpose (SSD)

This storage type uses Solid State Drives (SSDs) and is designed for a wide range of database workloads. It offers a balance between price and performance and is suitable for applications with moderate read and write activity.

2. Provisioned IOPS (SSD)

Provisioned IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second) storage is also based on SSDs but is optimized for high-performance workloads that require consistent and low-latency I/O operations. It’s suitable for applications with heavy database workloads, such as transactional databases.

3. Magnetic

Amazon RDS provides Magnetic storage, which uses traditional magnetic hard drives. While this storage type is cost-effective, it’s generally less performant compared to SSD-based storage. It’s suitable for applications with light workloads or those that are not sensitive to latency.

4. General Purpose (SSD) with Multi-AZ

 For high availability deployments using Multi-AZ (availability zone) configurations, Amazon RDS offers General Purpose SSD storage that synchronously replicates data to a standby instance in a different availability zone. This enhances data durability and availability in case of a failure.

5. Provisioned IOPS (SSD) with Multi-AZ

Similar to the single-AZ Provisioned IOPS storage, this option provides optimized storage for high-performance workloads in a Multi-AZ configuration.

6. Throughput Optimized HDD

Throughput Optimized HDD storage is designed for workloads that require high data transfer rates, such as data warehousing and large-scale analytics. It offers high sequential read and write performance.

7. Cold HDD

Cold HDD storage provides a cost-effective option for infrequently accessed data. It’s suitable for scenarios where performance requirements are low, but the ability to store large amounts of data is essential.

It’s important to choose the appropriate storage type based on your application’s requirements, workload characteristics, and performance expectations. Amazon RDS allows you to select the storage type when you create a database instance, ensuring that you can tailor your choice to match the specific needs of your application.

What are the Advantages of RDS?

Key advantages of using Amazon RDS include:

  • Reduced administrative burden for database management – RDS automates and simplifies installation, upgrades, patching, backups, scaling, replication, and failure detection for databases. This reduces the burden of manual admin tasks.
  • High availability and durability – RDS Multi-AZ deployments and read replicas enhance database availability and durability through automated failovers and redundancy.
  • Flexibility and scalability – RDS makes it easy to scale compute and storage up and down based on application needs via simple API calls.
  • Cost-effectiveness – The automation and cloud-optimized architecture of RDS reduces operational costs for database administration.
  • Security – RDS encryption, IAM integration, VPC support, and security patching provide protection for sensitive data.
  • Reliability – RDS offers high reliability backed by SLAs and managed by AWS cloud operations experts.
  • Productivity – RDS lets developers focus on application logic rather than database ops. Automation saves significant time and effort.
  • Performance – Options like Provisioned IOPS storage and database engines like Aurora provide high performance for demanding workloads.
  • Ecosystem integration – RDS integrates tightly with other AWS services for unified management, access control, connectivity, monitoring, and more.

What are the Disadvantages of RDS?

Potential disadvantages and drawbacks to consider with Amazon RDS include:

  • Lack of full database server access – RDS does not provide shell access to the underlying database servers since they are fully managed.
  • Vendor lock-in – Migrating from RDS to an on-prem database would require effort and downtime for data migration. 
  • Cost at scale – While RDS can lower costs for smaller workloads, pricing can become expensive for very large production databases.
  • Feature gaps – Some advanced database features may not be supported depending on the RDS engine used.
  • Multi-cloud support – RDS services are designed for AWS infrastructure and do not provide hybrid or multi-cloud portability. 
  • Permitted maintenance windows – RDS requires designated maintenance windows when certain changes can temporarily impact availability.
  • No customization of database software – RDS uses standard vendor database distributions, so software customizations are not possible.
  • Learning curve – New RDS users need time to learn how to effectively leverage RDS automation and cloud-based management.

Amazon RDS Use Cases

From powering ecommerce platforms that demand high availability to supporting data warehousing for analytics-driven insights, RDS finds its place across industries and use cases, enabling businesses to focus on innovation and growth while leaving the database management complexities to RDS.

Below are a few user case examples:

1. Migrating On-Premise Databases to the Cloud

For organizations with existing on-premise databases like Oracle, MySQL, or PostgreSQL, Amazon RDS provides an easier pathway to migrate these databases to the cloud. RDS automates the installation, configuration, and ongoing management of the database in the cloud.

Companies can migrate production databases to RDS with minimal downtime using database snapshots and data migration tools. RDS also handles scaling compute and storage resources as needed to right-size for the workload. The automation and high availability of RDS enables faster migration with reduced management overhead.

2. Building Cloud-Native Applications 

For developers building new cloud-native applications designed to run in the cloud, Amazon RDS provides a managed backend database service that scales seamlessly on demand. Developers can focus on application logic and leverage RDS for the database tier without provisioning and managing servers.

RDS integrates closely with other AWS services like EC2, Lambda, VPC, and S3 to provide a unified stack. The automation of RDS enables elastic scaling, high availability, and reliability even as cloud-native app usage grows exponentially.

3. Big Data and BI Applications

For big data, business intelligence, and analytics use cases that require massive database capacities with high throughput, Amazon RDS supports large database workloads cost-effectively. RDS features like read replicas, memory optimization, Provisioned IOPS storage, and the Amazon Aurora engine provide the performance and scalability needed for large data applications.

BI teams can query terabytes of data in RDS using standard SQL and Business Intelligence tools. RDS durability protects the large data stores while automation handles scaling, backups, and failover.

Amazon RDS Pricing

RDS pricing is based on the specific database engine and instance size selected. Each database engine has various instance classes with different computing, memory, and storage capabilities. 

Here are some key considerations to keep in mind regarding RDS pricing:

  1. As you scale up to larger instance classes, pricing increases, but you get more hardware resources and performance. There is also a monthly charge for each RDS instance running.
  1. You pay for the actual storage space used by your database, with the ability to scale up storage as needed. Additional fees apply for features like Multi-AZ, read replicas, and backups. 
  1. RDS provides on-demand pricing with no commitments or upfront costs but discounted reserved pricing is available for 1–3-year terms.
  1. There are separate charges for data transfer based on monthly data in/out of RDS instances. Transfer between RDS and other AWS services in the same region is free.
  1. Additional RDS capabilities like database migration, log exports, and Data API usage have their own pricing model based on usage.
  1. Overall, RDS pricing aims to be transparent and allows paying only for the actual resources used each month. Costs scale up and down directly with usage patterns.

In summary, RDS pricing is based primarily on the size of instances, storage consumed, features used, and data transfer. The on-demand model provides flexibility with no upfront costs.

Achieving Database Agility in the Cloud 

Amazon RDS provides a fully managed relational database service that frees developers from the burdens of infrastructure and database administration. By automating time-consuming tasks like provisioning, patching, scaling, and backups, RDS enables organizations to focus their efforts on application innovation rather than database management.

With capabilities like multi-AZ deployments, read replicas, and scalable storage, RDS makes it possible to build highly available and responsive database-backed applications. The flexibility of on-demand pricing and tight integration with other AWS services provides the agility needed for modern application development.

By combining the reliability of RDS with the security of Perimeter 81’s AWS Cloud VPN, companies can achieve true database agility in the cloud in a secure and safe way.


What is Amazon relational database service used for?
Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) is used to deploy, operate, and scale relational databases in the cloud. RDS provides managed deployments of databases including MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server, PostgreSQL, and MariaDB. 

The automation, scalability, availability, and security of RDS makes it well suited for any application requiring relational databases like OLTP, ERP, CRM, reporting, and more. RDS handles time-consuming database administration tasks, freeing developers to focus on application logic and innovation.
What is the difference between RDS and DynamoDB?
The main differences between Amazon RDS and DynamoDB are:

1. RDS provides fully managed relational databases like MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Oracle that support SQL queries, transactions, complex joins, and foreign keys. DynamoDB is a fully managed NoSQL database that supports fast lookups and scaling via key-value and document data models without complex relations. 

2. RDS is best suited for applications that require ACID transactions, relational structures, and complex read-write queries. DynamoDB fits better with highly scaled apps needing fast, simple data access.

3. RDS offers more robust backup, recovery, and disaster recovery capabilities as a relational database service. DynamoDB focuses more on performance and scalability as a distributed NoSQL database.

4. RDS gives you full control over the relational schema and indexes. DynamoDB manages the underlying infrastructure and uses flexible data models with optional indexes.

RDS simplifies running relational databases in the cloud while DynamoDB provides a non-relational database optimized for speed, flexibility, and scalability of modern applications. The choice depends on the data model, transactions, and querying needs.
How is data stored in RDS?
Data in Amazon RDS is stored in allocated storage volumes backed by Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS). The EBS volumes provide persistent block storage using AWS’s high performance SSD drives. For memory-intensive workloads, RDS also offers instance types optimized for in-memory caching.

RDS manages the EBS volumes to provide seamless scaling and optimal performance for database workloads. The EBS integration delivers resilient storage well suited for the disk input/output of relational databases deployed in RDS.
Where does RDS Back Up?
Amazon RDS stores its automated backups in Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service), a highly reliable and scalable cloud storage solution provided by AWS. Amazon S3 offers durability, availability, and security for the stored data. Backups in Amazon S3 benefit from its 99.999999999% (11 nines) durability, ensuring minimal chances of data loss. 

The data is stored redundantly across multiple availability zones, providing high availability. Additionally, Amazon S3 supports data encryption, lifecycle policies, and easy scalability, making it an ideal storage solution for critical database backups. When restoring from backups, Amazon RDS seamlessly retrieves the required data from Amazon S3, ensuring quick and reliable recovery of database instances.
What are the Two Types of RDS?
1. General Purpose storage type, powered by Solid State Drives (SSDs), strikes a balance between cost-effectiveness and performance. It is well-suited for applications with moderate read and write activities. This option is ideal for databases that require reasonable performance without excessive I/O demands. 

2. Provisioned IOPS storage type also utilizes SSDs but is optimized for high-performance workloads that demand consistent and low-latency I/O operations. It’s tailored for applications with intense database activities, such as transactional systems, where maintaining a predictable level of performance is crucial.

Both storage types provide advantages in terms of scalability, durability, and data management. General Purpose suits a broad range of workloads, while Provisioned IOPS offers specialized performance for applications that demand rapid and reliable data access. By offering these storage options, Amazon RDS ensures that users can tailor their database environment to meet their specific application needs and performance expectations.
Is RDS better than EC2?
When comparing Amazon RDS and EC2, both platforms offer the capability to establish secure, scalable databases for high-performance applications. Amazon RDS excels for those who want to minimize manual database engine configuration. It automates tasks like backups and patches, allowing users to focus on application development.

In contrast, Amazon EC2 offers greater control by enabling the creation of virtual servers. This option requires manual setup of security and networking, making it suitable for enterprise applications where full control over the database, including SYS/SYSTEM user access, is necessary.

While RDS and EC2 share some similarities, notable differences exist in terms of performance, scalability, storage, security, licensing, cost, and backups as follows:

– RDS integrates with Amazon’s scaling tools and provides various storage options. It also offers encryption and automated backups.

– EC2 offers more control over performance, licensing options, and the software stack, making it suitable for specific requirements.

Ultimately, the choice between RDS and EC2 hinges on factors such as budget, control preferences, and specific workload needs. RDS streamlines database management and optimization, while EC2 offers greater customization and control over the software stack. Each platform has distinct advantages, making the decision dependent on factors like cost, expertise, and the nature of the application.