Tony Bain

Building products & teams that leverage data, analytics, AI & automation to do amazing things

Amazon Extends SimpleDB

February 22, 2009 | Tony Bain

As I have blogged about before, I love companies that re-invent themselves to stay current rather than try to wait out market changes as if they were temporary detours.  This is why I love Amazon, who would have picked the world’s largest book store would become the world’s largest webservices provider, even only a few years back.

In a recent article for Read Write Web I wrote about how Amazon’s SimpleDB is a cost effective and scalable data store, albeit with certain major limitations.  And as I indicated in this article, many of the key/value data store vendors were taking the approach of using simplicity of functionality as the means for getting the scalability problem solved.  Then working backwards, re-introducing features over and above the basic CRUD operations when they had solved their respective scalability impact.

Last week Amazon added to SimpleDB, rolling out a couple of features that puts another brick in the bridge between relational and the current key/value stores.  Amazon added COUNT(*) to their SQL stimulant but more importantly appear to have added the ability to run queries that take more than 5 seconds.

While their post incorrectly says that the NEXTTOKEN feature is documented in the release notes (it isn’t), essentially it seems they have added a tokening system which allows a developer to recursively call the execute request for a complex query.  On each request SimpleDB will carry on from where the previously request left off until eventually the query completes. 

While on its own this is just a baby step forward, it is important as it shows Amazon understands that even the most basic of applications will have some form of analytical requirement.  The need to run complex queries when you have large datasets is important even for online transactional applications.

While not yet a direct threat to the relational vendors long term stronghold on the database market, 5 years out if such constant reiterations occur, locating data in the cloud could become a serious and attractive option for much more than bleeding edge web apps.  Microsoft realizes and is in the game with SQL Data Services, it will be interesting to see how the other vendors (namely Oracle and IBM) respond.