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Open Source Amazon DynamoDB-compatible API

Project Alternator is an Amazon DynamoDB-compatible API that allows any application written for Amazon DynamoDB to be run, unmodified, against ScyllaDB. You can use ScyllaDB as a seamless DynamoDB replacement or DynamoDB migration tool. ScyllaDB supports the same client SDKs, data modeling and queries as DynamoDB. However, you can deploy ScyllaDB wherever you want: on-premises, or on any public cloud. ScyllaDB provides lower latencies and solves DynamoDB’s high operational costs. You can deploy it however you want via Docker or Kubernetes, or use ScyllaDB Cloud for a fully-managed NoSQL DBaaS solution.

Why ScyllaDB is a Excellent DynamoDB Alternative

ScyllaDB’s open source DynamoDB compatible API provides four key benefits to DynamoDB users:

1. Lower TCO: DynamoDB can be very expensive. Companies spend a great deal of time and engineering effort in their attempts to reduce their DynamoDB costs. DynamoDB charges for read and write transactions (RRUs and WRUs). A free open source solution eliminates these costs and minimizes other operational expenses. ScyllaDB’s design efficiency allows developers to use significantly fewer resources for the same task or workload. According to our ScyllaDB vs DynamoDB benchmark, users can expect to save 80% – 93% overall to support the same workload (5x-14x less expensive). Because of its highly performant design ScyllaDB also eliminates the cost of any in-memory cache (such as DAX).

2. Performance: ScyllaDB provides far better and more consistent performance than DynamoDB, with extremely low latencies and better handling of hot partitions, and no read or write limitations based on provisioned cost. While DynamoDB offers throughput guarantees, its latencies, especially long-tail p99 latencies, suffer in comparison to ScyllaDB. That’s because ScyllaDB is designed around asynchronous communications and a “shared nothing” architecture, allowing it to take full advantage of underlying modern multi-core, multi-CPU NUMA hardware. While both DynamoDB and ScyllaDB have the capability to scale, we believe in giving you the most efficient performance possible, getting the highest utility of the underlying infrastructure you’re running on.

3. Greater Flexibility: You can now run your DynamoDB workloads on any cluster: on-premises, on your favorite public cloud, a hybrid cloud deployment, or using our ScyllaDB Cloud Database as a Service (NoSQL DBaaS). Our DynamoDB-compatible API interface is available in both pure open source or rigorously-tested enterprise-grade releases, solidifying it as an excellent DynamoDB open source alternative.

4. Openness: Unlike DynamoDB, ScyllaDB Open Source NoSQL allows users to review the source code and any known defects, and in return can add their own contributions to the project. Operationally, ScyllaDB can run on any suitable server cluster regardless of location (on-premises, in any private or public cloud, or on our own DBaaS, ScyllaDB Cloud) or deployment method (bare metal, containerized, virtualized, or deployed in pods via Kubernetes). This contributes to the user’s lower TCO by allowing deployment flexibility in line with their existing operations. ScyllaDB also uses popular open source projects for its monitoring stack (Grafana, Prometheus) making it easy to use in or out of AWS, or to integrate to a 3rd party monitoring system like DataDog.

ScyllaDB as a Platform for a DynamoDB-compatible API

Due to their different data access methods, switching between ScyllaDB and DynamoDB had been non-trivial to users. That’s because ScyllaDB initially used the Cassandra Query Language (CQL), which is syntactically akin to Structured Query Language (SQL), while DynamoDB data types require Javascript Object Notation (JSON) format for queries. (Learn more about the differences here.)

Based on ScyllaDB’s extensive experience in making API-compatible databases, a design principle for this project was that no Amazon DynamoDB API calls should need to be altered from the developer’s perspective. Instead, the database system needs to accept input from the client application in DynamoDB-compatible API format, and transparently translate it into appropriate calls to the underlying database.

Resultant data from queries would also need to be returned to users in the DynamoDB-compatible format. All users need to do is deploy ScyllaDB, enable our DynamoDB-compatible API in scylla.yaml, and then point their current DynamoDB client applications to the ScyllaDB cluster. Additionally, we offer ScyllaDB Migrator, an Apache Spark™-based streaming solution for DynamoDB data migration into ScyllaDB.

The Current Status of ScyllaDB’s DynamoDB-Compatible API, Alternator

Our DynamoDB-compatible API solutionis now available as part of ScyllaDB Open Source, ScyllaDB Enterprise, and ScyllaDB Cloud. Our alternator.md and design doc provide detailed information of what’s supported and not yet supported today. In short, most standard applications will just work. The JSON HTTP API is mostly implemented, indexing works, multi availability zones are implemented, and many more features will work.

DynamoDB-compatible API on ScyllaDB Cloud — Our Managed Cloud Service

For many lean organizations, one of the most attractive features of DynamoDB is utilizing it as a completely managed Database as a Service (DBaaS). ScyllaDB Cloud (NoSQL DBaaS) uses the robust ScyllaDB Enterprise release. It currently runs on AWS, and you can utilize your own account to keep your existing AWS terms and discounts. Future updates to ScyllaDB Cloud will run on Azure and GCP as well. Try it today! Try it today!

AWS Outposts Ready

ScyllaDB is certified to run on AWS Outposts — an on-premises extension of AWS infrastructure and services. Read our blog to discover what you can do with ScyllaDB Cloud in an AWS Outposts environment using the Alternator API.

Roadmap to Open Source Integration

You can run the DynamoDB-compatible API right now with ScyllaDB Open Source on your own Amazon, Azure and Google Cloud instances, using deployment methods like Docker and Kubernetes. We continuously harden the code, ensuring its production quality by putting it through our robust quality assurance cycles.

We also continue to strive for completeness in implementing any API differences.

ScyllaDB Open Source 4.0 also supports production-ready Lightweight Transactions LWT based on the Paxos consensus algorithm, allowing Alternator to support the equivalent of DynamoDB conditional updates.

ScyllaDB Open Source 4.0 also provides our streaming feature: Change Data Capture (CDC). Based on CDC, the following DynamoDB API stream operations are now supported in ScyllaDB: DescribeStream, GetRecords, GetShardIterator, and ListStreams.

Enterprise-Grade DynamoDB Alternative

ScyllaDB Enterprise supports our DynamoDB-compatible interface as of release 2020.1. ScyllaDB Enterprise is also the same production-grade code we run on our ScyllaDB Cloud service. Like ScyllaDB Open Source it also supports LWT; CDC will be available in an upcoming release.

Kubernetes Operator

We have a production-ready version of ScyllaDB Operator so you can fully deploy and manage a DynamoDB-compatible database wherever you wish.

Simplified ScyllaDB to DynamoDB Migration!

To make the switch as easy as possible we’ve extended our online DynanmoDB migration tools to be relatively simple: just start streaming the changes from DynamoDB plus run a full scan. The ScyllaDB Spark Migrator project has been enhanced to support the DynamoDB-compatible API.

Contributing to the Open Source DynamoDB-Compatible API Project

ScyllaDB and the DynamDB-compatible APIinterface are true open source projects. We encourage those looking to contribute to review the source code and any known defects, and read our guidelines on how to add their own contributions. Developers looking to become open source contributors to the project are further encouraged to join the scylladb-dev mailing list, or to visit ScyllaDB’s Slack.