Posted On: Apr 6, 2022

Amazon Athena now supports data stored in Amazon Ion format, a richly-typed, self-describing format developed and open-sourced by Amazon. Amazon Ion provides interchangeable binary and text formats which combine the ease of use of text with the efficiency of binary encoding. The Ion format is currently used by internal Amazon teams, by AWS services such as Amazon Quantum Ledger Database (Amazon QLDB), and in the open source SQL query language PartiQL.

Using Athena's new Amazon Ion Serializer/Deserializer (SerDe), you can now create and read Ion tables that can be queried and joined with data in other formats such as Parquet, Avro, and CSV. The Ion format is well-suited for sparsely populated hierarchical data such as medical history records and retail order documents which are complex to model and difficult to optimize for structured queries. Using Athena and Ion, the raw data remains easily readable by domain professionals, can be queried and analyzed using standard SQL queries, and is compact and space-efficient so it saves on log retention and data transfers.

To learn more see Amazon Ion SerDe. For the full list of supported SerDes see the Amazon Athena SerDe Reference.