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Amazon RDS for Aurora vs PostGIS: What are the differences?


Amazon RDS for Aurora and PostGIS are two popular database technologies used for different purposes. While Amazon RDS for Aurora is a managed relational database service optimized for performance and scalability, PostGIS is an extension for PostgreSQL that adds support for geographic objects. In this article, we will explore the key differences between Amazon RDS for Aurora and PostGIS.

  1. Data Model: Amazon RDS for Aurora uses a traditional relational database model, where data is stored in tables with predefined schemas and relationships between tables. On the other hand, PostGIS extends the PostgreSQL database with support for the storage and analysis of geographic objects, providing a spatial database schema.

  2. Geographic Data: Amazon RDS for Aurora does not have built-in support for storing or analyzing geographic data. It is primarily designed for traditional relational database use cases. In contrast, PostGIS provides a rich set of spatial types, functions, and operators that enable the storage and analysis of geographic data, such as points, lines, polygons, and spatial indexes.

  3. Spatial Functions: Amazon RDS for Aurora does not provide spatial functions out of the box. While you can store geographic data as text or binary types in the database, you will need to use external tools or libraries to perform spatial calculations or queries. PostGIS, on the other hand, offers a wide range of spatial functions that allow you to perform operations like distance calculation, buffer creation, and intersection detection directly in the database.

  4. Performance: Amazon RDS for Aurora is designed for high-performance workloads and offers features like read replicas, automatic scaling, and multi-AZ deployments for high availability. It is optimized for OLTP (Online Transaction Processing) workloads with high concurrency and low latency requirements. PostGIS, on the other hand, adds spatial capabilities to the PostgreSQL database and may introduce additional overhead for spatial data operations. While it can handle spatial queries efficiently, it may not provide the same level of performance as Amazon RDS for Aurora for non-spatial data.

  5. Scalability: Amazon RDS for Aurora provides built-in scalability features, such as the ability to create read replicas for offloading read traffic and automatic scaling to handle increased workload. It also supports multi-AZ deployments for high availability. PostGIS, being an extension for PostgreSQL, inherits the scalability features of the underlying database. However, it may require additional configuration and optimization for handling large volumes of spatial data or high concurrency workloads.

  6. Ecosystem and Community Support: Amazon RDS for Aurora is part of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) ecosystem, which provides a wide range of services and tools for building scalable and reliable applications in the cloud. It has a large user base and community support, with extensive documentation and resources available. PostGIS, being an open-source extension for PostgreSQL, also benefits from a vibrant community of users and developers. It has a rich ecosystem of GIS (Geographic Information System) software and libraries that are compatible with PostGIS, providing additional functionality and integration options.

In Summary, Amazon RDS for Aurora is a managed relational database service optimized for performance and scalability, while PostGIS is an extension for PostgreSQL that adds support for geographic objects. The key differences between them lie in their data models, support for geographic data, spatial functions, performance, scalability features, and ecosystem/community support.

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Pros of Amazon Aurora
Pros of PostGIS
  • 14
    MySQL compatibility
  • 12
    Better performance
  • 10
    Easy read scalability
  • 9
  • 7
    Low latency read replica
  • 2
    High IOPS cost
  • 1
    Good cost performance
  • 25
    De facto GIS in SQL
  • 5
    Good Documentation

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Cons of Amazon Aurora
Cons of PostGIS
  • 2
    Vendor locking
  • 1
    Rigid schema
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    What is Amazon Aurora?

    Amazon Aurora is a MySQL-compatible, relational database engine that combines the speed and availability of high-end commercial databases with the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of open source databases. Amazon Aurora provides up to five times better performance than MySQL at a price point one tenth that of a commercial database while delivering similar performance and availability.

    What is PostGIS?

    PostGIS is a spatial database extender for PostgreSQL object-relational database. It adds support for geographic objects allowing location queries to be run in SQL.

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