ScyllaDB Launches DynamoDB Migration Tool
Written by Kay Ewbank   
Thursday, 12 September 2019

The team behind ScyllaDB is working on an open source alternative to Amazon’s DynamoDB. Project Alternator is a DynamoDB-compatible API that is written in C++ and is a part of Scylla.

ScyllaDB is an open source NoSQL database that's Apache Cassandra compatible. The developers of Scylla describe it as a drop-in replacement for Apache Cassandra with as much as 10 times better performance. The company says ScyllaDB delivers scale-up performance of more than 1,000,000 IOPS per node, scales out to hundreds of nodes, and consistently achieves a 99 percent tail latency of less than 1 millisecond.


Amazon DynamoDB is a managed NoSQL database that can be used for both document and key-value data storage, and is used to handle multi-terabyte tables dealing with millions of read or write requests per second, such as the Amazon retail site. While DynamoDB is extremely popular, it is a commercial cloud-based service that only runs on Amazon Web Services (AWS), and it can be costly to use.

The cost of DynamoDB prompted the developers of ScyllaDB to create a more cost effective open source software alternative that would allow users to deploy a DynamoDB-compatible database to any cluster of their choosing, whether on-premises, or on any public or private cloud.

The original version of Scylla was already quite close to DynamoDB, but uses the Cassandra Query Language (CQL), which is syntactically akin to Structured Query Language (SQL), while DynamoDB uses JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) for queries.

The new Alternator project would mean no DynamoDB API calls need to be altered from the developer’s perspective. The database system accepts input from the client application in DynamoDB-compatible API format, and transparently translates it into appropriate calls to Scylla, then returns the data in a DynamoDB-compatible format. An Apache Spark-based streaming solution to migrate data from existing DynamoDB instances into Scylla is under development.

Alternator is still in development. It is not yet generally available, though it is already part of the Scylla source code. The developers have provided documents with detailed information of what’s supported and not yet supported today. They say that even now, most standard applications will just work. The JSON HTTP API is mostly implemented, indexing works, multi zones are implemented, and many more features will work.

However, there are consistency differences due to different models that might be an issue in certain cases. Over the next few months the Scylla team plans to harden the code to bring it to production quality. Looking further, they plan to offer a Scylla Enterprise release containing the Alternator software and also release a version to run on Scylla Cloud.



More Information

ScyllaDB Homepage

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 12 September 2019 )