AWS adds blockchain and time-series databases


Amazon has spent more than a decade trying to free itself of Oracle’s “one database to rule them all” approach, something Amazon snidely calls “clunky” and “old guard.” Not content to unshackle just itself, Amazon has announced a series of database introductions and improvements to broaden choice for its customers. Yes, with Oracle you can get “fries” (MySQL) with your “burger” (Oracle DB). But with AWS you get a seemingly endless buffet of database options.

Well, you get 15 as of today, which feels like the equivalent of “endless” in old-school enterprise groupthink. At AWS Re:Invent 2018 today, the company announced three major functional upgrades to existing databases and two brand-new databases, bringing the full complement of purpose-built AWS databases to 15.

At AWS, a database in every pot

As Amazon CTO Werner Vogels wrote earlier in 2018, AWS offers “so many database products” because “developers want their applications to be well architected and scale effectively. To do this, they need to be able to use multiple databases and data models within the same application.” He continues:

Seldom can one database fit the needs of multiple distinct use cases. The days of the one-size-fits-all monolithic database are behind us, and developers are now building highly distributed applications using a multitude of purpose-built databases. Developers are doing what they do best: breaking complex applications into smaller pieces and then picking the best tool to solve each problem. The best tool for a job usually differs by use case.

In his keynote address today, AWS chief executive officer Andy Jassy called out the depth and breadth of AWS, stressing that the company must deliver the broadest array of functionality if it wants customers to build their futures with AWS. Gartner analyst , suggesting she personally has talked with “multiple” Fortune 500 executives in 2018 that are committing half a billion dollars each year to AWS, with “many” others negotiating $100 million commitments. You don’t get that kind of spend without ensuring enterprises can build applications and, in particular, park their data with you.

A blockchain database? But why?

For example, AWS announced the (QLDB) (available in beta), a futuristic name to satisfy your inner blockchain nerd. Blockchain advocates have rightly been criticized for overhyping and misusing the “immutable database” technology, but AWS sees enough signal in the noise to release both a and QLDB. QLDB is particularly interesting because it delivers on core blockchain functionality, two to three times as fast (because it doesn’t need distributed consensus), without having to take on the full burden of the blockchain (managed or otherwise).

Enterprises have largely been suspicious of some of the core tenets of blockchain, wanting to centralize the decentralized nature of blockchain but keep its transparency and immutability. Amazon QLDB seems to deliver on that, while also packaging the service as serverless so developers won’t have to bother with capacity provisioning or configuration of read/write limits.

, “Customers keep feeding [AWS’] network with problems and use cases, and the network keeps growing bigger and bigger every year.” It’s the network effect gone wild, with AWS learning more about database use cases than its peers, paired with the financial ability to invest in meeting those needs.

, which has its “clunky, old-world” network struggling to run in the cloud at all. Developers are the new kingmakers, and it looks like they’ve crowned AWS king.