How to select the best Database Engine for your Amazon RDS Implementation?

Amazon RDS is a powerful tool for organizing, accessing and using the data you own. The fact that it is highly customizable is a big bonus for startups, but the sheer range of options can feel overwhelming at first. One of the first big choices you’ll be confronted with is selecting the best database engine for your Amazon RDS Implementation

It’s important to get these decisions right and early on, as migrating a database could be one of the most complex parts of workload migration, especially if you need to do it with zero downtime. Spending the time to make an informed decision on database technology from day one can save you significant time and resources.

Amazon RDS supports a wide variety of database engines, so let’s dive into what they are, and the features of each one. 

What is a Database Engine? 

A database engine is an underlying software that a database management system, in this case, Amazon RDS, uses to create, read, update, and delete data from your database. This is roughly analogous to the operating system on your computer, and your database engine represents a fundamental building block of your database.  

Different database engines approach the method of organizing and accessing data in a slightly different way, or use a different querying language to do so. The most popular database engines today include MySQL, MariaDB, PostgreSQL, Aurora, Oracle, and Microsoft SQL. 

Selecting the right database engine is a key step toward optimizing your Amazon RDS implementation

Why Use Amazon RDS Over Other Solutions? 

Amazon RDS is attractive to startups because of the flexibility inherent to cloud computing solutions. Rather than having to dedicate development resources to maintain complicated in-house infrastructure, startups can offload that responsibility to AWS. 

Additionally, Amazon RDS enables startups to rapidly scale capacity up and down as needed. This allows you to meet sudden surges in demand, without needing to invest in infrastructure that might sit idle if demand drops off. This is particularly useful for businesses with “seasonal” patterns, like news outlets, streaming services, or e-commerce, but it can also prevent downtime if your app goes “viral”, providing your business with a vital ability to scale up.   

Finally, startups can take advantage of flexible pricing based on the required performance. This enables startups to aggressively balance their budgets and minimize burn rate, freeing up resources to be spent on growth rather than maintenance. 

What Database Engines does Amazon RDS Support? 

Amazon RDS supports 7 different kinds of database engines out of the box. Users can select these engines whenever they create a new instance. Which engine you pick will be defined by your existing business requirements, infrastructure, and long-term growth plans. 

In addition to the standard Amazon RDS database engines, startups can also take advantage of Amazon Aurora, which is specifically optimized for cloud database implementations. 

Amazon RDS Database Engines 

Amazon RDS is a managed SQL database service that supports the most popular varieties of database engines. Amazon RDS is a good choice for startups that already have some kind of database infrastructure, and wish to migrate to the cloud with minimal headaches. It supports: 

MySQL

MySQL is one of the most popular database engines in the world. It is free and open-source, however, the main supporting company was acquired by Oracle in 2010… It’s typically fast, very robust and compatible with many different operating systems. Amazon RDS supports MySQL Community Edition versions 5.7 and 8.0.

Generally, MySQL solutions are used for databases that only require simple read-write functions, with strong performance. 

MariaDB 

MariaDB is also a free and open-source database engine. It began as a fork of the MySQL database management system, made by the original MySQL creators fearing possible development control from Oracle. It is often positioned as an improved version of MySQL, with better performance compared to its predecessor.

In general, MariaDB is a good option for startups who don’t need to access customer support and are confident that they can build their own database solution in-house, as there is no enterprise support option available.

PostgreSQL

PostgreSQL is an object-relational database system that is ACID-compliant. It is more advanced than MySQL based solutions, but this brings increased complexity that can impact performance. 

Despite this, PostgreSQL is highly popular, stable, and good for startups who have complicated database requirements, or who need a low maintenance solution once the initial set-up is completed. 

Oracle SQL

Oracle is a cross-platform management system built specifically for large commercial use-cases. Oracle is a “what you see is what you get” solution, and cannot be customized by the startup using it. 

While it is a possible choice for companies that need to deal with large quantities of data, it is not useful for smaller companies. 

If your organization has a specific reason to pick Oracle, then an advantage of using Oracle SQL is that you can choose from two different licensing models on RDS. You can either Bring Your Own License, or simply use Amazon’s “License Included” service model, which means you don’t need to separately procure an Oracle SQL license. 

Microsoft SQL 

SQL server is Microsoft’s proprietary database engine. As with Oracle, it’s generally best suited for larger companies with large static datasets who already use Microsoft SQL as a core part of their business. It is generally not a good choice for startups.

One advantage of using Microsoft SQL with RDS, is the “License Included” model, which means you don’t need to separately procure Microsoft SQL Server licenses when you’re using Amazon RDS. 

Amazon Aurora 

Unlike Amazon RDS, Amazon Aurora is designed specifically with the cloud in mind. It is a fully managed MySQL- and PostgreSQL-compatible relational database that combines the performance and availability of traditional enterprise databases, with the simplicity, customizability, and cost-effectiveness of open source databases. 


Cloudvisor Pro Tip – AWS Activate Credits can be used to purchase services from AWS, helping startups access industry leading solutions like Amazon Aurora without paying up-front learn more here.


The main benefit of Amazon Aurora is that it is designed to easily integrate with many other AWS services. This enables startups to instantly take advantage of AWS cloud storage, without needing to spend much time adapting their existing solutions. This saves development time, and frees you up to focus on building your core product. 

Amazon Aurora tends to be slightly more expensive than Amazon RDS, but is typically easier to use, and provides higher reliability than non cloud-specialized solutions. Most startups who don’t already have a compelling reason to use Microsoft SQL or Oracle will probably be well served by selecting Amazon Aurora as an option. 

We will take a deep dive into the differences between Amazon Aurora and Amazon RDS in our next piece. 

Whatever Amazon RDS Solution You Need, The Cloudvisor Team Is Standing By To Assist

Whether you need to set up an Aurora implementation, an Amazon RDS system, or anything else in the Cloud, Cloudvisor is standing by to help guide you through it. Our team has extensive experience working with startups, and most of us came up through the startup ecosystem ourselves. This enables us to come up with customized solutions that will work for your unique use-case, and scale with you as your company grows. 

Additionally, we can help Startups determine whether they are eligible for the AWS Activate program. This provides startups with up to $100,000 in AWS credits over the course of their lifetime, which they can use for AWS services like Amazon RDS. 

Already using another database solution? Then we can help your team take advantage of the AWS Database Plug & Play Program. This program provides a packaged bundle that enables customers to accelerate the migration of self-managed databases to Amazon’s fully managed relational and non-relational database engines. 

Contact us today, and find out how Cloudvisor can help your startup unlock its potential with the AWS cloud.

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