On the eve of Microsoft’s announcement of the public release of SQL Azure Database, Amazon decides to release RDS. And that, too, after having resisted users’ demands for a relational database service for a very long time. Preemptive action, perhaps? Whatever it may be, I believe that such a healthy competition can do much good to the Cloud marketplace.
RDS brings with it the promise of MySQL on a Cloud. Having been a MySQL fan for quite some time now, I was itching to get my hands on an AWS account and check out what the hype was all about. Imagine my confusion when I signed up for Amazon RDS and all the AWS Management Console showed me was the EC2 dashboard! It was time I downloaded the Getting Started Guide and went through the rigmarole of studying it.
Setting up the Command Line Interface Tools
Apparently, there is no GUI yet for RDS. The only way to go about using it is through the CLI tools. Setting up the tools, however, can be quite a pain: There are no installers per se; you have to download the archive, extract it, and set up the environment manually. Here’s how I did it on my Windows XP box:
- Prerequisites: The CLI tools are written in Java. So you need to have either JDK or JRE installed on your system to be able to run them. I had JRE 6 installed.
- The Environment: There are a couple of environment variables that need to be set, manually:
- The JAVA_HOME variable, containing the path of the Java runtime installed on the system.
- The AWS_RDS_HOME variable, containing the path to the folder containing the CLI tools.
C:\>set AWS_RDS_HOME=C:\Amazon RDS\CLI
- The Credential File: The archive containing the CLI tools also had a file named credential-file-path.template. I copied my AWS Access and Secret Keys into the place holders in the file, and then had to set yet another environment variable:
C:\>set AWS_CREDENTIAL_FILE=C:\Amazon RDS\CLI\credential-file-path.template
- One Last Thing: Finally, I was almost done (setting up the CLI tools, that is)! All I had to do was add the path of the CLI tools to the PATH variable:
C:\>set PATH=%PATH%;C:\Amazon RDS\CLI
Creating a Database Instance
I went on to create an Extra Large database instance, with an allocated storage of 5GB:
C:\>rds-create-db-instance --engine MySQL5.1 --master-username root --master-user-password mypass --db-name WebyogTestData --db-instance-identifier webyogtestinstance --allocated-storage 5 --db-instance-class db.m1.xlarge –-header DBINSTANCE DBInstanceId Class Engine Storage Master Username Status Backup Retention DBINSTANCE webyogtestinstance db.m1.xlarge mysql5.1 5 root creating 1 SECGROUP Name Status SECGROUP default active PARAMGRP Group Name Apply Status PARAMGRP default.mysql5.1 in-sync C:\>
The rds-decribe-db-instances command displays all the running instances:
C:\>rds-describe-db-instances DBINSTANCE webyogtestinstance 2009-11-06T08:40:52.571Z db.m1.xlarge mysql5.1 5 root available webyogtestinstance.clc2ed76md1v.us-east-1.rds.amazonaws.com 3306 us-east-1d 1 SECGROUP default active PARAMGRP default.mysql5.1 in-sync C:\>
Voila! My database is up and running in no time.
Setting up SQLyog/MONyog to Connect to Amazon RDS
Here’s the best part about Amazon RDS: It has native MySQL 5.1 support. (Well, at this time, it supports no other RDBMS, but may be it will in the future.) This means that I can use my favorite MySQL GUI tool to connect to the Amazon RDS database instance. Or at least that’s what Amazon claims.
- SQLyog settings for RDS
I filled in the master user name and password that I had used to create the DB instance. For the host address, I used webyogtestinstance.clc2ed76md1v.us-east-1.rds.amazonaws.com (I noticed it in the output of the rds-describe-db-instances command).
Apprehensively, I clicked on the Test Connection button and without a hitch it connected successfully. Notice that SQLyog reports as having connected to MySQL 5.1.38-log.
- Success connecting to Amazon RDS
Setting up MONyog was as simple.
- MONyog displaying Amazon RDS DB stats
MONyog displaying the InnoDB Cache stats
MONyog displaying the InnoDB Cache stats
RDS is but a MySQL 5.1 instance running on an EC2 platform, bringing with it all the advantages of EC2. You can scale your server to use up to 68GB of memory, 26 ECUs, and 1TB of persistent storage. On the flip-side, Amazon RDS does not support replication yet.
Periodically, the Amazon RDS system performs some maintenance of the database instance. This ensures that your server is running smoothly. This also translates into a 4-hour down time period on a weekly basis. Within a weekly 4-hour user-definable window (the maintenance window) Amazon’s management system may start back-ups or roll out patches for the MySQL server. This may, however, result in a certain amount of downtime of your DB instance.
There is a pattern emerging here, if you look close enough. Back in 2008, at about the same time, when it became clear that Microsoft would announce a Windows-based Cloud, Amazon jumped in and announced support for Windows-based EC2 instances. And Amazon has managed to do it again with RDS. Microsoft, it seems, drives Amazon harder than users do.
For us at Webyog this is an exciting development. We believe that our products (SQLyog and MONyog) are very well ‘fit for the Cloud’. Much more fit than the console-based tools that most advanced users still seem to use. We will now start checking our programs in detail with this. Till now we’ve found no issues.