Skip to content

NOSQL Databases & DynamoDB


  • NoSQL public Database as a Service - Key/Value & Document
  • No self-managed servers or infrastructure
  • Manual/Automatic provisioned performance IN/OUT or On-Demand
  • Highly resilient across AZs and optionally global
  • Really fast. Provides single digit millseconds latency
  • Provides backups, point-in-time recovery and encryption at rest
  • Event-Driven integration. Do things when data changes

DynamoDB On-Demand Backups

  • Manual snapshots retained until manually removed
  • Restore is possible within the same region or cross region
  • Adjust encryption settings with restore
  • Customer is responsible for performing the backup & removing older backups

DynamoDB Point-in-time Recovery

  • Not enabled by default (Enabled on a table by table basis)
  • Continuous record of changes allows to replay to any point (35 day window) - Restore within 1 second granularity

DynamoDB considerations

  • NOSQL - preference DynamoDB in the exam
  • Relational DATA - generally not DynamoDB
  • KEY/VALUE - preference DyanamoDB in the exam
  • Access via console, CLI, API. No SQL
  • Billed based on RCU, WCU, storage and features

DynamoDB Indexes

  • Query is the most efficient operation in a DyanmoDB but, it can only work on 1 PK value at a time & optionally a single or a range of sort key values
  • Indexes are alternative views on table data
  • Can choose which attributes from base table are projected for both indexes

Local Secondary Indexes

  • Create a view with different/altnernative Sort Key
  • Must be created with the base table itself
  • Max 5 LSIs per base table
  • Shares the RCU and WCU with the table
  • Attributes - ALL, KEYS_ONLY & INCLUDE

Global Secondary Indexes

  • Create a view with different Partition Key & Sort Key
  • Can be created at any time
  • Default limit of 20 per base table
  • Have their own RCU and WCU allocations
  • Attributes - ALL, KEYS_ONLY & INCLUDE

LSI & GSI Consideration

  • Careful with projection (KEYS_ONLY, INCLUDE, ALL)
  • Queries on attributes not projected are expensive
  • Use GSIs as default, LSI only when strong consistency is required
  • Use indexes for alternative access patterns

DynamoDB Stream & Triggers


  • Time ordered list of ITEM Changes in a table
  • 24-Hour rolling window
  • Enabled on a per table basis
  • Records INSERTS, UPDATES, and deletes
  • Different view types influence what is in the stream


  • ITEM changes generates an alerts
  • That event contains the data which changed
  • An action is taken using that data
  • STREAMS + Lambda invocation (trigger)
  • Used in reporting, analytics, aggregation, messaging or notifications

DynamoDB Global tables

  • Global tables provides multi-master cross-region replication
  • Tables are created in multiple regions and added to the same global table
  • Last writer wins is used for conflict resolution (most recent writer)
  • Reads and Writes can occur to any region
  • Generally sub-second replication between regions
  • Strongly consistent reads ONLY in the samge region as writes (otherwise eventually consistent)

DynamoDB Accelerator (DAX)

  • Primary Node (Write) and Replicas (Read)
  • Nodes are HA, Primary failure = election
  • In-memory cache - Scaling. Much master reads, reduced costs
  • Scale up & Scale Out
  • Supports write-through (commit DynamoDB & write to cache)
  • While DynamoDB is public AWS service, DAX is deployed within a VPC
  • Reduce response time of reads operation
  • Write heavy application do not benefit from DAX (Read heavy, with millisecond latency of read requirement do)

DynamoDB TTL

  • Timestamp for automatic DELETE of items
  • When TTL is enabled on a table a specific attributeis selected for TTL
  • A per partition processs periodically runs, checking the current time (in seconds since epoch) to the value in the TTL attribute
  • ITEMS where the TTL attribute is older than the current time are set to expired
  • Another per-partition background process scans for expired items and removes them from tables and indexes and a delete is added to streams if enabled.
  • DELETE operatins caused by TTL are background system processes and don't impact table performance and they aren't chargeable

Amazon Athena

  • Serverless Interactive Queries Service
  • Ad-hoc queries on data - pay only for data consumed
  • Schema-on-read - table like translation
  • Original data never changed - remains on S3
  • Schema translates data => relational-like when read
  • Output can be sent to other AWS services
  • Tables are defined in advance in a data catalog and data is projected through when read. It allows SQL like queries on data without transforming source data
  • Queries where loading/transformation isn't desired
  • Occasional / Ad-hoc queries on data in S3
  • Serverless querying scenarios - cost conscious
  • Querying AWS Logs - VPC Flow Logs, CloudTrail, ELB Logs, cost reports etc
  • AWS Glue Data Catalog & Web Server Logs
  • Athena Federated Query can query other data source (Can query non S3 data sources)


  • In-memory database. High performance
  • Managed Redis or Memcached as a service
  • Can be used to cache data for READ HEAVY workloads with low latency requirements
  • Reduces database loads (For heavy reads, offloading to cache can reduce database cost)
  • Can be used to store Session Data (Stateless Servers)
  • Using ElastiCache requires application code changes!!

ElastiCache - Redis vs MemcacheD


  • Simple data strutctures (string)
  • No replication
  • Multiple Nodes (Sharding)
  • No backup
  • Multi-threaded (better performance for multi core CPUs)


  • Advanced data structures (list, sets, sorted sets,hashes etc)
  • Multi-AZ replication
  • Replication (Scale Reads)
  • Backup & Restore
  • Support for transactions (all operations work or none work if any fails)

Amazon Redshift

  • Petabyte scale Data Warehouse
  • OLAP (column based) not OLTP (row/transactions)
  • Pay as you use. Similar to RDS
  • Direct Query S3 using Redshift Spectrum
  • Direct Query other DB using Federated Query
  • Server based (not serverless)
  • One-AZ in a VPC - not HA
  • Leader Node - Query input, planning & aggregation
  • Compute Node - performing queries of data
  • VPC security, IAM Permissions, KMS at rest encryption, CW monitoring
  • Redshift Enhanced VPC Routing - by default uses public routes for traffic, but when Enhanced VPC Routing is enabled, traffic is routed based on VPC networking (SG, NACL, VPC Gateways)

Redshift Resilience and Recovery

  • Automatic incremental backups to S3 occur every ~8 hours or 5 GB of data & by default have 1-day retention (configurable up to 365 days)
  • Manual snapshots performed manually, stored in S3 and do not expire unless deleted manually
  • Redshift backups into S3 protects against AZ failures
  • Restoring from snapshots creates a brand new cluster
  • Redshift can be configured to copy snapshots to another AWS region for DR - with a seperate configurable retention period