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Amazon RDS

What is Amazon RDS?

The evolution of the technological landscape is clearly evident in the introduction of new offerings every day. Cloud computing is undoubtedly one of the prominent milestones in the progress of technology as we know it today. Now, enterprises could make the most of cloud computing for cost-effective access to computing resources. As a result, the adoption of public cloud services became a trend that still continues to rage on!

One of the notable names that emerged in the area of public cloud services is AWS (Amazon Web Services). With a massive and interesting assortment of services, products, and features, AWS is presently at the top of the public cloud service market. Amazon RDS is one of the notable services of AWS that addresses one of the significant computing resource requirements. 

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The following discussion would aim at an illustration of informative details regarding AWS RDS. Readers could find the definition of RDS on AWS, the components in its architecture, and the different types of instances. In addition, the discussion would also focus extensively on the features, benefits, and pricing for Amazon’s RDS. Most important of all, the discussion would also include a step-wise illustration of the process to create a database (DB) instance on RDS. 

Definition of Amazon RDS

First things first, what is Amazon RDS? RDS stands for Relational Database Service. Is RDS the database of AWS? Now, this is huge confusion for the new audience as the term “RDS” implies directly towards the database. However, Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) is a web service. It helps in setting up, operating, and scaling relational databases on the AWS cloud easily.

The functionalities of Amazon’s RDS are evident in its cost-effectiveness and resizable capacities for an industry-standard relational database. Amazon’s RDS also serves effectively in the management of general database administration tasks. In order to obtain a better understanding of “what is RDS,” let us reflect on the different scenarios in which it is applicable.

MultiAZ Architecture
MultiAZ Architecture

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Importance of Amazon RDS

As of now, we know that AWS RDS is the managed web service of AWS for the relational database. In order to know about the significance of Amazon’s RDS, it is essential to find out the scenarios that demand its application. Primarily, RDS addresses various complicated and resource-intensive management tasks for a relational database. In addition, it also serves the following purposes for becoming one of the most popular AWS offerings. 

  • Upon purchasing a server, users get CPU, IOPS, memory, and storage bundled together. In the case of AWS Database service with RDS, all of these components are available separately for better ease of independent scaling. In the case of requirements of more CPU, storage, or lower IOPS, then users can allocate them easily. 
  • Amazon’s RDS also helps in the management of backups, recovery, automatic failure detection, and software patching.
  • AWS RDS offers a managed service experience by excluding shell access to DB instances. In addition, it also imposes restrictions on access to specific system procedures and tables that need advanced privileges. 
  • RDS also provides the facility of performing automated backups according to requirements or the creation of own backup snapshots manually. These backups are ideal for restoring a particular database in the reliable and efficient restore process of Amazon’s RDS. 
  • Another prominent functionality of AWS Database management service with RDS is evident in the higher availability. The facility of a synchronous secondary instance with a primary instance helps in failover when problems emerge. In addition, users could leverage MySQL, PostgreSQL, or MariaDB Read Replicas for increasing read scaling. 
  • Amazon RDS also offers the flexibility for using database products that users are familiar with. The distinct options include MySQL, Microsoft SQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, MariaDB Server database (DB) engines. As a result, code, applications, and tools working on existing databases would also function seamlessly with Amazon’s RDS. 
  • The response to ‘what is RDS’ on AWS also emphasizes on the security aspects in the RDS databases. The facility of AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) helps in exerting control over access privileges. The functionalities of AWS IAM with RDS involve the definition of users and permissions. Furthermore, users can also safeguard their databases by placing the databases in a virtual private cloud (VPC).

Must Read: 10 AWS Jobs You can Get with an AWS Certification

The architecture of Amazon RDS

Now, let us focus on the next most crucial entry in this discussion for understanding Amazon RDS! How can you use Amazon’s RDS without knowing about its components? Awareness regarding the basic components in AWS RDS architecture is an essential step in understanding Amazon’s RDS service. The primary components of Amazon’s RDS include DB instances, regions and availability zones, security groups, DB parameter groups, and DB option groups.

Here are some brief explanations about each significant element in the architecture of Amazon’s RDS –

DB Instances

DB instances are the basic entities that form the RDS service of Amazon. As an isolated database environment in the cloud, DB instances store multiple databases created by users. Most important of all, you can access DB instances with tools and applications that you use for a standalone database instance.

The AWS Command Line Interface, AWS Management Console, and Amazon RDS API are the ideal tools for creating DB instances. Another important aspect to note in the case of DB instances on Amazon RDS is the facility of different DB instance classes. The different DB instance classes have unique computation and memory capacity for a DB instance. The discussion would focus on the different instance types in Amazon’s RDS in an upcoming section. 

Regions and Availability Zones

The next important element in the AWS RDS architecture refers to regions and availability zones. Highly available datacenters work for the storage of AWS resources. The location of a particular data center is known as a ‘region.’ You can find multiple Availability Zones (AZ) in each region.

The design of AZs involves isolation from the failure of other AZs. Users can deploy a DB instance in multiple AZs, thereby ensuring a failover. Therefore, if one AZ is unavailable, then the user can turn to a second AZ. In such cases, the failover instance is the standby, and the original instance is the primary instance. 

Security Groups

Security groups are an essential addition to the architecture of Amazon RDS. The security group provides control over access to a DB instance. The security group specifies a range of IP addresses and the EC2 instances with access privileges for controlling access to DB instances. There are three distinct types of security groups on Amazon’s RDS.

The security groups are the VPC security group, DB security group, and EC2 security group. The VPC security group helps in controlling access to DB instance inside a VPC. The DB security group helps in controlling access to DB instances that are not in a VPC. The EC2 security group is ideal for controlling access to an EC2 instance. In addition, you can also use the EC2 security group with a DB instance. 

DB Parameter Groups and DB Option Groups

The other important elements in AWS RDS architecture refer to DB parameter groups and DB option groups. The DB parameter groups contain engine configuration values applicable to one or multiple DB instances of the same instance class. Users receive a default Parameter group with default values if they don’t specify a DB parameter group, for instance. The DB option groups are effective tools for simpler management of databases on Amazon RDS

Also Read: How to use Amazon DynamoDB?

Types of Instances on Amazon’s RDS

Now, let us focus on the different types of instances that you can find on Amazon’s RDS. AWS provides an assortment of instance types, ideal for various relational database use cases. The different AWS RDS instance types have unique combinations of CPU, networking capacity, storage, and memory. Users get ample flexibility with the different options of RDS instance types of AWS for selecting the right mix of resources for their database.

Furthermore, each instance type has the facility of different instance sizes. As a result, users could scale their database according to target workload requirements. Furthermore, it is essential to note that all instance types are not supported in every database engine, region, version, or edition. Here is an outline of the different RDS instance types on Amazon RDS

The first category of AWS RDS instance types involves the general-purpose instance types. The general-purpose instance types include T3, T2, M5, and M4. T3 instances serve as next-generation burstable general-purpose instance type. They provide a baseline level of CPU performance alongside the ability to burst CPU usage at any time according to requirements. T2 instances are also burstable general-purpose instances. M5 instances are the latest in the line of general-purpose instances and are the successors of the M4 instances. Both M5 and M4 instances provide an appropriate mix of computing, network, and memory resources. 

The next class of instance types on Amazon RDS refers to memory-optimized instances. The different types of instances in this category are R5, R4, X1e, X1, and Z1d. R5 instances provide 5% additional memory per vCPU as compared to R4. R4 is also ideal for memory-intensive database workloads. X1e instances are specifically meant for high-performance databases. X1 instances are suitable for large-scale, enterprise-class, and in-memory applications. Z1d is suitable for relational database workloads on AWS with higher per-core licensing costs. 

The burstable performance DB instance classes are the last entry among AWS RDS instance types. T3 and T2 are prominent mentions in this category of DB instance classes. The primary function of these instance types is to provide burst in CPU power according to requirements for a specific duration of time. 

Creating an RDS Database Instance on Amazon’s RDS

introduction to AWS Relational Database Service
An Introduction to AWS Relational Database Service

The most important piece of information in an Amazon RDS tutorial is the process of creating an RDS DB instance. Users can find distinct instruction sheets for the creation of Amazon RDS DB instance on different database engines. However, it is essential to note that the process remains almost the same, irrespective of the database engine chosen. For this discussion, we choose the Microsoft SQL Server database engine and attempt the creation of an RDS DB instance. 

Access the AWS Management Console and choose the “New Console” instructions. Users can create a DB instance for a Microsoft SQL Server database engine with the “Easy Create” option enabled or disabled. “Easy Create” option allows us to specify DB engine type, DB instance identifier, and DB instance size. In addition, “Easy Create” also leverages the default settings of other configuration options.

If you don’t enable “Easy Create” on the console, then you can specify an additional configuration when creating an Amazon RDS database. The configuration options can include the aspects of availability, maintenance, security, and backups. The following process complies with the condition in which “Standard Create” is evident in place of “Easy Create.” Users could create Microsoft SQL Server DB instance with the “Easy Create” option by following a different set of instructions. 

  1. The first step for the creation of DB instance in any Amazon RDS tutorial involves signing in to the AWS Management Console. Now, access the Amazon RDS console through the link https://console.aws.amazon.com/rds/
  2. Navigate to the top-right corner of the RDS console and select the AWS Region where you want to create the DB instance.
  3. Explore the navigation pane to find out and select the “Databases” option.
  4. Click on the “Create Database” option.
  5. Now, you will find a “Create database” window. First of all, navigate to the “Choose a database creation method” tab. Click on the “Standard Create” option. 
  6. You can also find an “Engine options” tab in the “Create database” window. Choose the “Microsoft SQL Server” option.
  7. Users should also select the “Edition” for the SQL Server DB engine. The availability of SQL Server editions varies according to the AWS Region.
  8. Now, you have to access the “Templates” tab and then select the template that aligns with your use case. For example, choosing a “Production” template would provide pre-selected aspects in a subsequent phase. The options include a Multi-AZ failover option, the “Enable deletion protection” option, and the “Provisioned IOPS” storage option.
  9. Select the “Settings” and then “Credential Settings” for entering your master password. Untick the checkbox “Auto-generate a password.” The new DB instance uses an automatically generated password for the master user, by default.
  10. Users should then specify the DB instance settings for the remaining sections.
  11. After selecting an automatically generated password for Amazon RDS DB instance, you can find the “View credential details” button on the “Databases” page. Connect to the new DB instance as the master user by leveraging the user name and password that are available.
  12. In the “Databases” option, select a name for the new SQL Server DB instance. You can find the details about the new DB instance on the RDS console. In addition, the Amazon RDS instance will also show a status indicating “Creating” until the creation of the DB instance and its readiness for use. Users can connect to the DB instance when the state of the instance changes to “available.”

The specification of a database name is a crucial aspect of every Amazon RDS tutorial. The name value of the database depends on the database engine. For example, the name of the database for MariaDB and MySQL database engines is the name of the database hosted in DB instance. Databases hosted with the same DB instance should have different names within a particular instance.

In the case of Oracle Database engine, Amazon RDS database name should have the value of ORACLE_SID, that users should provide when connecting to the instance. The database name is not a supported parameter in the case of the Microsoft SQL Server database engine. In the case of the PostgreSQL database engine, the name of the database hosted in DB instance is the name of the database. 

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Pricing for Amazon’s RDS

One of the most important concerns in this discussion relates to AWS RDS pricing. The most notable highlight of pricing in the case of Amazon’s RDS is the pay-as-you-go policy of AWS. You have to pay only for the services you use without any minimum fees or charges for setup. Amazon’s RDS is a part of the AWS free tier, thereby encouraging users to adopt RDS for database management. Let us find out additional details regarding AWS RDS pricing, such as factors that determine the charges for using RDS. In addition, we shall also take a look at the time when billing for RDS DB instance on AWS starts and ends. 

The billing for Amazon RDS DB instances depends on the following factors:

  • DB instance hours differ according to the DB instance in use. The billing for partial DB instance hours is the same as that for full hours. The billable DB instance hours start as soon as the DB instance becomes available. The DB instance hours terminate upon the deletion or instance failure of instance.   
  • Storage capacity provisioned to a DB instance also influences billing. The bill becomes pro-rated in the event of scaling the provisioned storage capacity in the concerned billing month. 
  • The total number of I/O requests per month also determines to bill for Amazon’s RDS DB instances.
  • The provisioned IOPS rate i.e., the number of IOPS provisioned every month, is also an influential factor in the billing for RDS. 
  • Internet data transfer rate to and from a DB instance 
  • Backup storage involving the backup retention period and the additional database snapshots also determine the pricing of RDS DB instances. 

AWS RDS pricing starts right from the moment of availability of a DB instance. The pricing continues until the termination of the concerned DB instance. The pricing for Amazon RDS instances with multi-AZ deployment depends on the same factors as the general DB instances. 

Features of Amazon Relational Database Service

The objective of this discussion would remain unfulfilled without reflecting on the features of Amazon RDS. Here is an outline of the notable features of the database management service on AWS. 

  • Users could leverage the Amazon Command Line Interface for RDS, AWS Management Console, or general API calls for accessing capabilities of a production-ready relational database in few minutes. Pre-configuration of RDS DB instances with parameters and settings according to the database engine and instance class provides adequate flexibility. 
  • Automatic software patching for relational database software alongside the facility of optional control over DB instance patching is a commendable feature. 
  • The analysis of configuration and usage metrics from DB instances helps Amazon’s RDS provide recommendations on best practice guidance. The recommendations address different areas, such as for instance types, database engine versions, networking, and storage. 
  • The general-purpose SSD storage and provisioned IOPS storage helps in addressing a wider range of database workloads in Amazon RDS. 
  • The features of push-button compute scaling, Read Replicas, and easy storage scaling offers the benefits of scalability with Amazon’s RDS.
  • Automatic host replacement, automated backups, multi-AZ deployments, and database snapshots are the features in Amazon’s RDS for ensuring higher availability and durability. 
  • The security features on Amazon’s RDS service are network isolation, resource-level permissions with AWS IAM, and encryption at rest and in transit.
  • The ease of manageability with Amazon’s RDS becomes evident with the features of configuration governance, event notifications, and monitoring and metrics. 

Benefits of Amazon’s RDS

Based on these features, we can find various benefits from Amazon’s RDS for the management of databases on the cloud. Here are some of the credible advantages that you can get from Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS). 

1. Lower administrative stress

The foremost benefit of RDS service on AWS is the reduction of administrative burden. The easy of use of RDS is evident in the limited need for infrastructure provisioning or installation and maintenance of database software. 

2. Matching up to the demands of business

AWS provides efficient scaling of computing and storage resources of a database without any downtime. The facility of reading Replicas helps in offloading read traffic from a primary database instance.

3. Availability and durability

The benefits of reliability, availability, and durability are specifically evident in the AWS infrastructure itself. The facility of multiple Availability Zones (AZ) is the main driving factor for the higher availability of RDS instances.

4. Speed, performance, security, and cost-effectiveness

The speed and performance of Amazon’s RDS service depend on the powerful storage options. In addition, the concerns of security are minimal in the case of Amazon’s RDS due to the integration of AWS IAM. Finally, the cost-effectiveness of Amazon’s RDS with the model of pay-as-you-go is the most appealing benefit for enterprises. 

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Conclusion

On a concluding note, the above-mentioned discussion shows promising insights about the functionalities and features of Amazon RDS. The comprehensiveness of features in Amazon’s RDS service alongside the facility of AWS documentation for the same are commendable highlights. New AWS audience could use the AWS documentation, such as getting started guides to understand Amazon’s RDS better.

Furthermore, the facility of step-wise instructions for the creation of RDS DB instances on different database engines offers simplicity. Readers should try going through the official AWS website to find these instructions in properly documented formats. If you want to learn more about Amazon’s RDS, then this discussion is just the right starting point for you!  

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About Sujith Kumar

Cloud Products Associate by Profession with in-depth knowledge in AWS.
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