Companies these days are handling more data than ever: an average of 163 terabytes (163,000 gigabytes), according to a survey by IDG. Efficiently storing, processing, and analyzing this information is essential in order to glean valuable insights and make smarter business decisions.

Yet the question remains: what’s the best way to store enterprise data? For many use cases, the most appealing choice is a relational database.

In addition to Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is one of the most popular public cloud computing platforms. AWS includes support for a wide range of database services, including a fully managed relational database service called Amazon RDS.

This article will discuss everything you need to know about Amazon RDS: what it is, how it works, and the best Amazon RDS alternatives.

What is a Relational Database?

The purpose of a database is to store large quantities of information in an organized fashion. Databases can be classified according to the model that they use to arrange this information.

As the name suggests, relational databases are those that use the relational model to store data. The relational model is a method of structuring information that uses tables with columns and rows, similar to a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel.

Each row in a relational database represents a record in that database, while each column represents a new piece of information about that record. For example, imagine a relational database that contains information about the students enrolled at a university. The rows of the database represent the different students, while the columns represent different data points such as the student’s ID number, major, and GPA.

Relational databases are contrasted with non-relational databases (also known as NoSQL databases), which use a model other than the relational model to organize information. Some common types of non-relational databases are key-value stores, document stores, and graph databases.

What is Amazon RDS?

Amazon RDS (Relational Database Service) is a cloud computing solution from Amazon Web Services that aims to facilitate the process of setting up, deploying, and scaling a relational database in the cloud.

First introduced in October 2009, Amazon RDS includes support for many of the most popular relational database solutions, including Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and PostgreSQL. As a fully managed service, Amazon RDS handles many of the onerous tasks of database management, such as migration, patching, and backup & recovery.

Like any other managed service in the cloud, the cloud provider (in this case, AWS) is responsible for provisioning the infrastructure and performing the tasks of maintenance and management. The customer (in this case, you) is only responsible for creating, managing, configuring, and deleting Amazon RDS “instances” as you deem necessary.

Amazon RDS includes multiple service tiers with different levels of storage and performance that can fit the needs of most users. The “AWS Free Tier” provides 750 hours of usage per month and 20 gigabytes of storage for businesses that want to give the Amazon RDS service a test drive.

3 Benefits of Amazon RDS

1. Availability

When hosting data in the cloud, it’s crucial that you can access it at the time or place of your choosing. Amazon RDS is capable of providing high availability via a feature called Multi-AZ, which maintains a redundant copy of your data in a separate location. The Multi-AZ service-level agreement guarantees a database uptime of at least 99.95 percent every month.

2. Scalability

Trying to scale an on-premises, self-hosted database can be a serious challenge, but Amazon RDS makes it much simpler. Amazon RDS offers two different types of automatic scaling: horizontal (adding more machines) and vertical (adding more resources). The service comes equipped with a load balancer that can distribute requests evenly when the database is under increased demand.

3. Performance

Amazon RDS includes a Performance Insights dashboard that makes it easier for users to analyze and troubleshoot the performance of their relational databases. 

Amazon RDS Alternatives

While Amazon RDS can be a strong offering for users who want a managed relational database in the cloud, it’s not the only alternative out there.

Besides Amazon RDS, solutions such as Amazon S3, Amazon Redshift, and MongoDB are all highly popular ways for businesses to store and manage their enterprise data. However, with so many different options for building a relational database, these solutions don’t always come with a built-in way to integrate data from multiple sources—which is essential in order to gain the insights you need.

The good news is you can easily integrate Amazon RDS with other data sources by using a third-party solution such as Xplenty. With just a few clicks, Xplenty enables data integration in the cloud between Amazon RDS and other relational databases. After that, you can process and analyze the combined data, and then store the results back in your Amazon RDS database.

Conclusion

Amazon RDS is a feature-rich and mature offering from AWS that makes it easy for even less tech-savvy businesses to operate their own relational databases. In order to gain the most benefit from your Amazon RDS deployment, however, you need a solution for cloud data integration such as Xplenty.

Xplenty is capable of integrating your Amazon RDS database with dozens of other services and products, so that you can use the technology stack that makes the most sense for you. To learn more about how Xplenty can benefit your business, get in touch with our team to schedule a free demo of the Xplenty platform.