Amazon Web Services > Case Studies > Amazon's Journey to Database Freedom with AWS

Amazon's Journey to Database Freedom with AWS

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Technology Category
  • Application Infrastructure & Middleware - Database Management & Storage
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) - Cloud Databases
Applicable Industries
  • Education
Applicable Functions
  • Maintenance
Use Cases
  • Inventory Management
  • Time Sensitive Networking
About The Customer
Amazon is a global online retail powerhouse known for its use of leading-edge technologies. The company was born in an era when monolithic, on-premises database solutions like Oracle were the standard for enterprise-scale data storage and management. However, as the company grew, it faced increasing challenges with its Oracle databases, including complex administration, provisioning, and capacity planning, as well as rising costs. Amazon's rapid growth trajectory required more Oracle database shards, leading to increased operations and maintenance overhead. The company was also facing a significant increase in its Oracle license costs. Despite these challenges, Amazon had to consider the potential risks of migrating to AWS, including the impact on its employees whose careers were based on Oracle database platforms.
The Challenge
Amazon, despite being a leading-edge technology company, was still using Oracle databases for its data storage and management. The company was born before the advent of Amazon Web Services (AWS), during a time when monolithic, on-premises database solutions like Oracle were the norm for enterprise-scale data management. However, disengaging from Oracle presented significant challenges. Amazon had more than 5,000 databases connected to a variety of non-standardized systems, with ownerships and dependencies that were not centrally inventoried. There were also personnel-related risks, as many Amazon employees' careers were based on Oracle database platforms. Furthermore, Amazon engineers were spending excessive time on complex database administration, provisioning, and capacity planning. The company's rapid growth required more Oracle database shards, increasing operations and maintenance overhead. Additionally, continuing with Oracle would increase the millions of dollars Amazon was already paying for its license by a staggering 10 percent annually.
The Solution
Amazon embarked on a multiyear initiative to migrate its data from Oracle databases to AWS. The company faced two main challenges: large-scale program management and the technical complexity of the migration. To address these, Amazon created an enterprise Program Management Office (PMO) to set clear performance requirements and track progress. An AWS technical core team of experienced solutions architects and database engineers was also established. This team recommended the best AWS services for each category of Amazon data being migrated from Oracle, including Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon Aurora, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for PostgreSQL or MySQL, AWS Database Migration Service (AWS DMS), and AWS Schema Conversion Tool (AWS SCT). The team also provided formal instruction about specific AWS services, ran hands-on labs, offered one-on-one consultations, and coordinated direct assistance by AWS product teams for Amazon businesses experiencing specific challenges. Amazon also considered how to help its Oracle database administrators transition onto new career paths, either by gaining the skills necessary to become AWS solutions architects or by taking on managerial roles.
Operational Impact
  • The migration to AWS has greatly reduced Amazon's database-administration and hardware-management overhead. Cost allocation across teams is now much simpler than before. During the migration, service teams also took the opportunity to further stabilize services, eliminate technical debt, and fully document all code and dependencies. Amazon also thought carefully about how best to help its Oracle database administrators transition onto the new career paths now open to them. One option was to help them gain the skills necessary to become AWS solutions architects. Another was a managerial role in which an Oracle background would be helpful during the ongoing process of bridging traditional Oracle-based environments and AWS Cloud environments. The success of this migration serves as a lesson for other large enterprises contemplating a similar move.
Quantitative Benefit
  • Amazon's annual database operating costs were cut by more than half after migrating to AWS.
  • Most of the services that were replatformed to Amazon DynamoDB saw a 40-percent reduction in latency, despite now handling twice the volume of transactions.
  • The migration affected 800 services, thousands of microservices, tens of thousands of employees, and millions of customers, resulting in an AWS database footprint for Amazon larger than for 90 percent of its fellow AWS customers.

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