I'm at a deciding point in my project of whether to implement the database using SimpleDB or Amazon RDS. The database needs to be accessed through an iPhone app and as well through a website. Here are some factors I've been considering in the decision:

  1. Amazon has an iOS SDK (Beta) for iPhone that can be used with their SimpleDB -- Getting Started with the AWS SDK for iOS(Beta)
  2. Cost. SimpleDB is practically free while running a small RDS instance is $80/month or around $240/ year. If the price wasn't such a difference I would just choose the RDS and be done with it.
  3. If SimpleDB is all that I require for my app then I am fine using that, but I do not know enough about databases yet (I just began my Database I course today) to decide if it has the functionality I need.

The other thing is that I've already built the website using PHP/MySQL and I really like how easy it is to use this combination so having to re-build it using SimpleDB is kind of annoying.

I think that I should probably just pay the cost for a year's worth of an RDS instance and just be done with it, but I just wanted to see what other people have to say about this.

  • 1
    Why do you need the db? You say you just started courses today, but why is there an urgency on obtaining the db now? Can you wait until you've had the courses so you can make a semi-educated decision if you need the server?
    – jcolebrand
    Commented May 9, 2011 at 22:00
  • Well I know for sure that I need a database because it's a profile based app so I have already have built a login system and then I was thinking of adding another table for all the profile values for each user. Either way, I have to be able to update, delete and retrieve data.
    – derek
    Commented May 10, 2011 at 3:26
  • I rather meant, does it need to be live today
    – jcolebrand
    Commented May 10, 2011 at 3:26
  • No. That's why I'm at a deciding point of which one to choose. I chose to go with RDS. I've already written a login system with MySQL and I found out that for testing purposes, if I run an RDS instance, I can shut it down when I'm not using it and that way I won't be charged the 0.11/hr for a small instance for every hour it's running. Thanks for the comments.
    – derek
    Commented May 13, 2011 at 18:03
  • D, real quick, your assuming with the 1 year pricing on the small ec2 instance that it is only the cost of the reserved instance pricing, but you still pay $.03/hr on top of that. Reserved instances are just options on servers for lower hourly rates, you still have to pay by hour. Just so you can more accurately plan future growth I thought I would point that out. Commented Jul 29, 2011 at 6:15

1 Answer 1


Well it's really a matter of you deciding on the architecture you want to go with.

SimpleDB is a non-relational "no-sql" data storage system built around the ideas of collections of items accessible via key/value pairing.

Where as RDS is really just a custom version of MySQL which a fully relational SQL database.

both systems will work for tracking profiles but the implementation patterns are very different. Neither is right or wrong, so it's your call on what you want to do.

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