AWS News Blog

New Whitepaper: The Total Cost of (Non) Ownership of a NoSQL Database Service

We have received tremendous positive feedback from customers and partners since we launched Amazon DynamoDB two months ago. Amazon DynamoDB enables customers to offload the administrative burden of operating and scaling a highly available distributed database cluster while only paying for the actual system resources they consume. We also received a ton of great feedback about how simple it is get started and how easy it is to scale the database. Since Amazon DynamoDB introduced the new concept of a provisioned throughput pricing model, we also received several questions around how to think about its Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

We are very excited to publish our new TCO whitepaper: The Total Cost of (Non) Ownership of a NoSQL Database service. Download PDF.


In this whitepaper, we attempt to explain the TCO of Amazon DynamoDB and highlight the different cost factors involved in deploying and managing a scalable NoSQL database whether on-premise or in the cloud.

When calculating TCO, we recommend that you start with a specific use case or application that you plan to deploy in the cloud instead of relying on generic comparison analysis. Hence, in this whitepaper, we walk through an example scenario (a social game to support the launch of a new movie) and highlight the total costs for three different deployment options over three different usage patterns. The graph below summarizes the results of our white paper.

When determining the TCO of a cloud-based service, its easy to overlook several cost factors such as administration and redundancy costs, which can lead to inaccurate and incomplete comparisons. Additionally, in the case of a NoSQL database solution, people often forget to include database administration costs. Hence, in the paper, we are providing a detailed breakdown of costs for the lifecycle of an application.

Its challenging to do the right apples-to-apples comparison between on-premises software and a Cloud service, especially since some costs are up-front capital expenditure while others are on-going operating expenditure. In order to simplify the calculations and cost comparison between options, we have amortized the costs over a 3 year period for the on-premises option. We have clearly stated our assumptions in each option so you can adjust them based on your own research or quotes from your hardware vendors and co-location providers.

Amazon DynamoDB frees you from the headaches of provisioning hardware and systems software, setting up and configuring a distributed database cluster, and managing ongoing cluster operations. There are no hardware administration costs since there is no hardware to maintain. There are no NoSQL database administration costs such as patching the OS and managing and scaling the NoSQL cluster, since there is no software to maintain. This is an important point because NoSQL database admins are not that easy to find these days.

We hope that the whitepaper provides you with the necessary TCO information you need so you can make the right decision when it comes to deploying and running a NoSQL database solution. If you have any questions, comments, suggestions and/or feedback, feel free to reach out to us.

— Jinesh

Modified 2/10/2021 – In an effort to ensure a great experience, expired links in this post have been updated or removed from the original post.
Jeff Barr

Jeff Barr

Jeff Barr is Chief Evangelist for AWS. He started this blog in 2004 and has been writing posts just about non-stop ever since.