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Amazon Aurora Serverless, the future of database consumption

Amazon has recently launched Amazon Aurora Serverless database (MySQL-compatible edition). This is going to set a new trend in the way databases are consumed by organizations. Traditionally database setup, administration, scaling and maintenance is tedious, time consuming and expensive. Thanks to cloud computing, RDS takes away the setup, scaling and maintenance of databases from customers. Amazon Aurora Serverless takes RDS to the next level where the users pay only for what they use and when they use.

Amazon Aurora database architecture addresses the bottlenecks in scalability and fault tolerance of traditional databases by decoupling the storage and compute tiers and offloading some of the functions like redo logging, crash recovery, backup & restore etc. to the storage tier. Aurora database has fault-tolerant and self-healing storage built for the cloud that replicates six copies of user data across three Availability Zones.


Aurora Serverless is an on-demand auto-scaling Aurora database without managing the database instances by customers. Aurora Serverless scales up and down based on the load generated by the application which makes it ideal choice for unpredictable workloads.

Users can provision the database capacity in "Aurora Capacity Units (ACUs)", a combination of memory and processor capacity. Database scales up and down based on the application load between the specified "minimum and maximum ACUs". Aurora Serverless manages a warm pool of resources to minimize scaling time. Due to decoupling of compute and storage tiers, new capacity can serve traffic in seconds.

AWS charges its customers for Aurora Serverless on three parameters - Database Capacity Units (ACUs), I/O (million request increments) and storage consumption (per GB-month increments).

Aurora Serverless can be optionally paused automatically after a given amount of time with no activity (default 5 minutes). When the database is paused users are only charged for the storage consumption. This is a game changer especially for non-production databases. Typically, non-production databases are not used round the clock hence the cost saving potential is huge. When Aurora Serverless automatically resume from pause the first connection will experience a higher latency of about 25 seconds.

Amazon Aurora Serverless provides multiple levels of security for the databases similar to Amazon Aurora standard instance. It supports "VPC endpoint", encryption of "data at rest and in transit" and key management through "AWS Key Management Service (KMS)". By enabling encryption for an Aurora Serverless database, encryption is automatically enabled for "underlying storage, automated backups, snapshots and replicas".

Some of the typical use cases for Aurora Serverless could be Dev/Test environments, unpredictable workloads, infrequently used applications etc. Setting up of an application stack is "at the click of a button" using Amazon Aurora Serverless databases and other AWS Serverless components.

Courtesy: AWS documentation and white papers.

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