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Cost Savings With DynamoDB On-Demand: Lessons Learned

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Cost Savings With DynamoDB On-Demand: Lessons Learned

If you're thinking of switching to using on-demand DynamoDB, you'll want to read this.

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One of my favorite features that was announced during re:Invent 2018 was DynamoDB On-Demand. With DynamoDB On-Demand, we can use DynamoDB without provisioning capacity. Instead, we pay per request. Sounds amazing, huh? I was excited and re-configured all DynamoDB tables of our SaaS product marbot: cloud-native alerting for CloudWatch via Slack. The result is stunning but misleading.

I shared my excitement on Twitter, and today, I add what we learned in the following weeks.

Behind the Marketing Term

What does DynamoDB On-Demand mean? When compared with the provisioned DynamoDB model, on-demand is:

  • A table that scales the read and write throughput automatically.
  • A new cost model where you pay per request.

Scaling Takes Time

DynamoDB On-Demand does not scale instantaneously. Instead, DynamoDB On-Demand provisions capacity to handle two times the past peak traffic. As a result, if your load doubles faster than within 30 minutes, DynamoDB still throttles your requests.


There are many cases where on-demand is significantly more expensive compared to provisioned with Auto Scaling. My rule of thumb: The spikier your workload, the higher the savings with on-demand. The reason why we saw such significant savings with marbot is our workload that goes down to almost zero requests/second for half of the day in production and is mostly zero for 24/7 in our test environment. My suggestion is to switch to on-demand for one day and compare your costs with the day before.

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cloud ,databases ,dynamodb ,on demand ,cost ,lessons learned

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