Amazon ElastiCache vs Amazon Redshift: What are the differences?
What is Amazon ElastiCache? Deploy, operate, and scale an in-memory cache in the cloud. ElastiCache improves the performance of web applications by allowing you to retrieve information from fast, managed, in-memory caches, instead of relying entirely on slower disk-based databases. ElastiCache supports Memcached and Redis.
What is Amazon Redshift? Fast, fully managed, petabyte-scale data warehouse service. Redshift makes it simple and cost-effective to efficiently analyze all your data using your existing business intelligence tools. It is optimized for datasets ranging from a few hundred gigabytes to a petabyte or more and costs less than $1,000 per terabyte per year, a tenth the cost of most traditional data warehousing solutions.
Amazon ElastiCache belongs to "Managed Memcache" category of the tech stack, while Amazon Redshift can be primarily classified under "Big Data as a Service".
Some of the features offered by Amazon ElastiCache are:
- Support for two engines: Memcached and Redis
- Ease of management via the AWS Management Console. With a few clicks you can configure and launch instances for the engine you wish to use.
- Compatibility with the specific engine protocol. This means most of the client libraries will work with the respective engines they were built for - no additional changes or tweaking required.
On the other hand, Amazon Redshift provides the following key features:
- Optimized for Data Warehousing- It uses columnar storage, data compression, and zone maps to reduce the amount of IO needed to perform queries. Redshift has a massively parallel processing (MPP) architecture, parallelizing and distributing SQL operations to take advantage of all available resources.
- Scalable- With a few clicks of the AWS Management Console or a simple API call, you can easily scale the number of nodes in your data warehouse up or down as your performance or capacity needs change.
- No Up-Front Costs- You pay only for the resources you provision. You can choose On-Demand pricing with no up-front costs or long-term commitments, or obtain significantly discounted rates with Reserved Instance pricing.
"Redis" is the top reason why over 53 developers like Amazon ElastiCache, while over 27 developers mention "Data Warehousing" as the leading cause for choosing Amazon Redshift.
According to the StackShare community, Amazon ElastiCache has a broader approval, being mentioned in 349 company stacks & 79 developers stacks; compared to Amazon Redshift, which is listed in 269 company stacks and 67 developer stacks.
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Looker , Stitch , Amazon Redshift , dbt
We recently moved our Data Analytics and Business Intelligence tooling to Looker . It's already helping us create a solid process for reusable SQL-based data modeling, with consistent definitions across the entire organizations. Looker allows us to collaboratively build these version-controlled models and push the limits of what we've traditionally been able to accomplish with analytics with a lean team.
For Data Engineering, we're in the process of moving from maintaining our own ETL pipelines on AWS to a managed ELT system on Stitch. We're also evaluating the command line tool, dbt to manage data transformations. Our hope is that Stitch + dbt will streamline the ELT bit, allowing us to focus our energies on analyzing data, rather than managing it.
Back in 2014, I was given an opportunity to re-architect SmartZip Analytics platform, and flagship product: SmartTargeting. This is a SaaS software helping real estate professionals keeping up with their prospects and leads in a given neighborhood/territory, finding out (thanks to predictive analytics) who's the most likely to list/sell their home, and running cross-channel marketing automation against them: direct mail, online ads, email... The company also does provide Data APIs to Enterprise customers.
I had inherited years and years of technical debt and I knew things had to change radically. The first enabler to this was to make use of the cloud and go with AWS, so we would stop re-inventing the wheel, and build around managed/scalable services.
For the SaaS product, we kept on working with Rails as this was what my team had the most knowledge in. We've however broken up the monolith and decoupled the front-end application from the backend thanks to the use of Rails API so we'd get independently scalable micro-services from now on.
Our various applications could now be deployed using AWS Elastic Beanstalk so we wouldn't waste any more efforts writing time-consuming Capistrano deployment scripts for instance. Combined with Docker so our application would run within its own container, independently from the underlying host configuration.
Storage-wise, we went with Amazon S3 and ditched any pre-existing local or network storage people used to deal with in our legacy systems. On the database side: Amazon RDS / MySQL initially. Ultimately migrated to Amazon RDS for Aurora / MySQL when it got released. Once again, here you need a managed service your cloud provider handles for you.
Future improvements / technology decisions included:
Caching: Amazon ElastiCache / Memcached CDN: Amazon CloudFront Systems Integration: Segment / Zapier Data-warehousing: Amazon Redshift BI: Amazon Quicksight / Superset Search: Elasticsearch / Amazon Elasticsearch Service / Algolia Monitoring: New Relic
As our usage grows, patterns changed, and/or our business needs evolved, my role as Engineering Manager then Director of Engineering was also to ensure my team kept on learning and innovating, while delivering on business value.
One of these innovations was to get ourselves into Serverless : Adopting AWS Lambda was a big step forward. At the time, only available for Node.js (Not Ruby ) but a great way to handle cost efficiency, unpredictable traffic, sudden bursts of traffic... Ultimately you want the whole chain of services involved in a call to be serverless, and that's when we've started leveraging Amazon DynamoDB on these projects so they'd be fully scalable.
We decided to use MemCachier as our Memcached provider because we were seeing some serious PostgreSQL performance issues with query-heavy pages on the site. We use MemCachier for all Rails caching and pretty aggressively too for the logged out experience (fully cached pages for the most part). We really need to move to Amazon ElastiCache as soon as possible so we can stop paying so much. The only reason we're not moving is because there are some restrictions on the network side due to our main app being hosted on Heroku.
Aggressive archiving of historical data to keep the production database as small as possible. Using our in-house soon-to-be-open-sourced ETL library, SharpShifter.
I use a micro elesticache instance as a shared session store between the Node.js clusters of dojo.zerotoherojs.com and nightly.zerotoherojs.com
Audit the ElastiCache configurations for best practices and standards.