DynamoDB, the robust, cloud based database powered by Amazon. With DynamoDB, organizations gain access to scalable and highly available options for efficient data storage and retrieval in the cloud.

What is DynamoDB?

DynamoDB, developed by Amazon Web Services (AWS), is a highly-scalable and fully managed NoSQL database that was created to address the growing demands of modern applications. The database was introduced in 2012 as a key component of AWS’s cloud computing services. DynamoDB is a versatile and flexible database management system designed to handle vast amounts of data with low latency and high performance.

Development of DynamoDB was driven by the need for a database solution that could easily scale and adapt to dynamic workloads. AWS recognized that traditional relational databases had limitations when it came to handling large-scale applications, particularly in terms of scalability and performance. To overcome these challenges, DynamoDB was built as a NoSQL database, using a key-value store model that facilitates rapid and efficient data retrieval.

DynamoDB was specifically designed to cater to the requirements of modern applications that deal with massive amounts of data, such as those involving eCommerce, gaming, and real-time analytics. When adopting a distributed systems approach, DynamoDB achieves horizontal scalability, allowing organizations to scale their databases as their data needs grow, thereby eliminating the need for manual capacity planning and helps applications handle sudden spikes in traffic without compromising performance.

How does DynamoDB work?

The core of DynamoDB’s architecture is its distributed nature. The database partitions data automatically, distributing it across multiple servers, which allows DynamoDB to handle large-scale workloads efficiently. Each item in a table is uniquely identified by a primary key, enabling fast and direct access to the data.

To achieve scalability, DynamoDB employs a process known as partitioning. Data is divided into smaller subsets, called partitions, and these partitions are distributed across multiple servers. This approach means that the workload is evenly distributed and can be processed in parallel, resulting in high performance and low latency.

Each partition is further replicated across multiple servers, known as replicas, to improve fault tolerance and data durability. By replicating data across different Availability Zones within a region, DynamoDB provides high availability even in the face of hardware failures or service disruptions.

Consistency is an important aspect of any database system. DynamoDB offers two consistency models: eventual consistency and strong consistency. Eventual consistency allows for faster read operations by allowing a slight lag in data replication across replicas. Strong consistency, on the other hand, guarantees that every read operation receives the most up-to-date data, although with a potential increase in latency.

To further improve performance, DynamoDB integrates with Amazon ElastiCache, a managed in-memory caching service. This integration lets organizations leverage caching capabilities, reducing the need for disk-based operations and accelerating data access. DynamoDB also provides powerful querying options, allowing organizations to retrieve data based on primary keys or create secondary indexes for more complex queries.

Features of DynamoDB

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On-demand capacity mode

On-demand capacity mode means organizations pay for only the read and write capacity they actually consume. This flexible option eliminates the need for capacity planning and enables automatic scaling to accommodate unpredictable workloads.

Global tables

With Global Tables, organizations replicate their tables across multiple AWS regions, providing low-latency access to data for users across the globe and maintaining data consistency, allowing for disaster recovery, meaning applications can operate seamlessly even in the event of a regional outage.

Auto scaling

DynamoDB’s Auto Scaling feature adjusts the provisioned read and write capacity of tables in response to traffic patterns. The database automatically adds or removes capacity to match demand, optimizing performance and cost efficiency. Auto Scaling eliminates the need for manual capacity adjustments.

Accelerator (DAX)

DynamoDB Accelerator (DAX) is an in-memory cache that seamlessly integrates with DynamoDB. By caching frequently accessed data, DAX reduces the response time and improves throughput for read-intensive workloads. It offloads the database and provides a significant performance boost.


DynamoDB supports ACID-compliant transactions, allowing organizations to maintain data integrity across multiple item updates. Transactions mean that changes to multiple items in a table are atomic, consistent, isolated, and durable, providing reliable and predictable data modifications.

Data encryption

DynamoDB offers encryption at rest, securing data stored in tables using AWS Key Management Service (KMS). It helps organizations meet regulatory and compliance requirements while safeguarding sensitive information. Encryption all but guarantees data confidentiality and protection against unauthorized access.

Stream view type

The Stream View Type feature in DynamoDB enables organizations to choose between two modes: NEW_IMAGE and OLD_IMAGE. NEW_IMAGE captures only the modified attributes after an item update, while OLD_IMAGE captures the state of the item before the update. This feature provides flexibility for various data processing and change tracking needs.

Point-in-time recovery (PITR)

The Point-in-Time Recovery (PITR) feature allows organizations to restore their tables to any point in time within a specified retention period (up to 35 days). PITR provides an additional layer of data protection, helping to recover from accidental data loss, application errors, or malicious activities.

Global secondary index (GSI) with projection

DynamoDB’s Global Secondary Index (GSI) feature allows organizations to create indexes on non-key attributes for efficient querying. With GSI Projection, organizations can choose which attributes to project into the index, reducing read and storage costs and improving query performance.

Batch operations

Organizations can perform multiple read or write operations in a single request. Batch operations help reduce network latency and improve throughput efficiency, making it ideal for scenarios that involve bulk data processing or updates.

Online index scaling

DynamoDB has the capability to scale global secondary indexes (GSIs) independently from the base table. This means organizations can adjust the provisioned throughput for indexes based on their specific query patterns, optimizing performance and cost for different access patterns.

Time to Live (TTL) with DynamoDB Streams

The combination of Time to Live (TTL) and DynamoDB Streams offers an interesting feature. When an item is expired using TTL, a delete event is automatically added to the DynamoDB Stream. This allows organizations to build real-time data pipelines and trigger downstream processes based on the expiration of items.

Understanding the key benefits of DynamoDB

Flexible and scalable NoSQL database

As a fully managed NoSQL database provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS), DynamoDB offers flexible schemaless data modeling, allowing organizations to adapt their data structures without downtime. With its elastic scaling capabilities, DynamoDB can handle varying workloads and accommodate growing data volumes.

Seamless integration with AWS ecosystem

As part of the AWS suite of services, DynamoDB integrates with other cloud offerings. Organizations leveraging the AWS ecosystem can leverage DynamoDB’s compatibility with services such as AWS Lambda, Amazon S3, and Amazon CloudWatch, improving their overall infrastructure and application development processes.

High performance and low latency

DynamoDB delivers excellent performance and low latency, facilitating responsive application experiences even with large datasets and high traffic. Its architecture uses distributed storage and automatic data partitioning, enabling fast and efficient data access.

Global availability

Global availability allows organizations to replicate their data across multiple regions. This feature ensures high availability and disaster recovery, minimizing the risk of data loss and downtime.

Pay-as-you-go pricing model

With a flexible pay-as-you-go pricing model so organizations pay for the resources they consume, eliminating the need for upfront investments and providing cost optimization opportunities.

Built-in security and access control

DynamoDB incorporates security features, including encryption at rest and in transit, fine-grained access control through AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), and integration with AWS Key Management Service (KMS). These measures help organizations meet stringent security and compliance requirements.

Continuous backup and restore

Organizations can easily create automated backups and restore their data at any point in time within a retention period of up to 35 days. This capability improves data durability and point-in-time recovery, providing peace of mind in case of accidental data loss or corruption.

DynamoDB streams for real-time data processing


DynamoDB Streams lets organizations capture and process real-time data changes from DynamoDB tables. This is instrumental in scenarios like event-driven architectures, real-time analytics, and building data pipelines, helping organizations react to data changes in near real-time.

Free tier and cost-effective scaling

A generous free tier allows organizations to get started with the service at no additional cost. When an organization’s demand for the database increases, the pay-as-you-go pricing and automatic scaling capabilities guarantee cost-effective scaling, aligning with their growth trajectory.

Developer-friendly with extensive SDKs and APIs

DynamoDB provides developers with a rich set of SDKs and APIs, making it easy to integrate the database into various programming languages and frameworks. This developer-friendly approach simplifies application development, reduces time to market, and promotes collaboration.

Due to the vast server capacity of Amazon and DynamoDB, the database is capable of processing approximately 20 million requests per second and over 10 trillion requests per day. This lets users be confident that their database will be able to cope with any demands and requirements they have.

Acknowledging the potential drawbacks of DynamoDB

Limited querying capabilities

The primary query method is based on key-value access patterns, which can be restrictive for organizations requiring complex querying operations or ad-hoc queries.

Lack of joins and relationships

Unlike relational databases, DynamoDB does not support traditional join operations or built-in relationship management, making it challenging to handle complex data structures and relationships.

Cost considerations

Although DynamoDB offers a pay-per-usage pricing model, the costs can escalate quickly, especially for organizations with high read/write throughput or large amounts of stored data.

Provisioned throughput management

Organizations must carefully manage and configure provisioned throughput capacity to handle varying workloads efficiently, requiring diligent monitoring and adjustment to avoid performance bottlenecks or overspending.

Data size limitations

DynamoDB has a maximum item size limit of 400 KB, which can pose challenges when dealing with larger datasets or complex data structures that exceed this limit.


No support for SQL queries

For organizations accustomed to SQL-based databases, the lack of SQL query support in DynamoDB may require a significant learning curve and adjustments in development practices.

Limited secondary indexes

DynamoDB imposes constraints on the number and attributes supported by secondary indexes, limiting the flexibility and expressiveness of queries and access patterns.

Eventual consistency model

By default, DynamoDB provides eventual consistency, which means there might be a slight delay between writes and reads. This might be a concern for applications that require strong consistency guarantees.

Complexity of data modeling

Designing an efficient data model in DynamoDB can be complex, as it requires careful consideration of access patterns, partition keys, and denormalization techniques to optimize performance.

Limited local development options

DynamoDB lacks robust local development options, making it challenging to set up and test applications locally without incurring additional costs or relying on alternative solutions.

Who uses DynamoDB?

Designed to handle massive workloads and integrate with cloud-based solutions, DynamoDB has found a home in numerous sectors, catering to the specific needs of organizations.

  • eCommerce

    Online retail giants such as Amazon, eBay, and Shopify use DynamoDB to manage their extensive product catalogs, user profiles, and real-time inventory tracking. Its ability to handle millions of requests per second, coupled with scalability, allows these platforms to deliver a smooth shopping experience even during peak traffic periods.


  • Gaming

    DynamoDB’s low latency and high availability make it a preferred choice for gaming companies like Epic Games (creator of Fortnite) and Zynga. These companies utilize DynamoDB to store player profiles, game state information, and leaderboards. The database’s capability to handle rapid updates and support real-time interactions contributes to the impressive multiplayer experiences offered by these games.

  • AdTech

    Advertising technology companies, including AdRoll and Criteo, rely on DynamoDB to manage vast amounts of user data, ad impressions, and campaign performance metrics. The database’s fast read and write capabilities, combined with its flexible schema, enable these platforms to deliver targeted ads at scale while optimizing their ad targeting algorithms.


  • Social Media

    DynamoDB finds its place in the social media landscape as well. Platforms like Snapchat and TikTok use the database to handle user-generated content, user profiles, and engagement metrics. DynamoDB’s ability to handle unpredictable spikes in user activity and provide instant scalability allows these platforms to accommodate rapid growth and maintain the user experience.


  • Financial Services

    Household names in the financial industry, such as American Express and Capital One, utilize DynamoDB to power critical applications like fraud detection, transaction processing, and customer profiles. The database’s ability to process high volumes of financial data in real-time, coupled with its security features, makes it an ideal choice for these organizations’ mission-critical systems.

A prime example of DynamoDB in action is Dropbox. As a result of rapid growth, Dropbox required changes for their storage system to cope with the increased demand. As increasing their on site store and deleting vast quantities of their data were not feasible options, Dropbox opted to utilize DynamoDB through AWS, thereby saving millions of dollars and ensuring their data capacity would be sufficient and sustainable going forward.

“When building a storage system, you have to think about components like replication, backup, and capacity management. By using Amazon DynamoDB and Amazon S3, we simplify these problems because AWS handles many of the complex tasks.”

– Alki Team Tech LeadDROPBOX

Asked Questions.

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Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers a generous free tier of DynamoDB. This allows users to store 25GB of data, 2.5 million read requests from streams and 1GB of transferred out data. Once this limit is exceeded, users will be charged per GB of storage and per user request.

DynamoDB is a non-relational, NoSQL database in which data is stored in tables, consisting of items and attributes. These items are collections of attributes. The attributes are fundamental data which cannot be broken down further. While DynamoDB is NoSQL, certain features of SQL are available through the use of the built in PartiQL.

DynamoDB is popular among both small and large businesses. Small businesses with limited data demands are able to make use of the free tier of DynamoDB, making it a viable solution for them, whereas large businesses are able to make use of the immense scalability available with DynamoDB. Additionally, all users are able to make use of the administration and maintenance performed by the database itself, saving users time.

DynamoDB is a Non-relational, NoSQL, document based database. Despite originally being solely NoSQL, recent updates to the database have introduced PartiQL. PartiQL is a language built into DynamoDB that allows certain features of SQL to be used.

DynamoDB is one of the most popular document oriented databases, controlling over 64% of the market share. The scalability and flexibility of DynamoDB make it an excellent choice for both large and small businesses. Additionally, as DynamoDB is owned and maintained by Amazon, it has very reliable documentation for beginners and will have continual support for many years.

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