Transactions and Scalability in Cloud Databases—Can’t We Have Both?

Doug Terry, Senior Principal Technologist, Amazon Web Services


NoSQL cloud database services, like Amazon DynamoDB, are popular for their simple key-value operations, unbounded scalability and predictable low-latency. Atomic transactions, while popular in relational databases, carry the specter of complexity and low performance, especially when used for workloads with high contention. Transactions often have been viewed as inherently incompatible with NoSQL stores, and the few commercial services that combine both come with limitations. This talk examines the tension between transactions and non-relational databases, and it recounts my journey of adding transactions to DynamoDB. I conclude that atomic transactions with full ACID properties can be supported without unduly compromising on performance, availability, self-management, or scalability.

Doug Terry, Senior Principal Technologist, Amazon Web Services

Doug Terry is a Senior Principal Technologist in the AWS Database Services team focusing on global databases (Amazon DynamoDB) and large-scale data warehouses (Amazon Redshift). Prior to joining Amazon in 2016, Doug led innovative research at Xerox PARC, Microsoft, and Samsung. He is known for his work on distributed systems, such as the development of ubiquitous computing and eventual consistency. He has served on numerous program committees as well as chair of ACM SIGOPS. Doug has a Ph.D. from U. C. Berkeley.

@conference {230593,
author = {Doug Terry},
title = {Transactions and Scalability in Cloud Databases{\textemdash}Can{\textquoteright}t We Have Both?},
year = {2019},
address = {Boston, MA},
publisher = {{USENIX} Association},