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AWS to Shut Down Aurora Serverless v1, Their Sole Relational Database with Scaling Capacity to Zero

MMS Founder
MMS Renato Losio

Article originally posted on InfoQ. Visit InfoQ

Recently, AWS notified existing customers running Amazon Aurora that Serverless v1 support will be discontinued, with the service scheduled to shut down within a year. The absence of scaling to zero in the newer Aurora Serverless v2 has raised concerns within the community regarding potential increased costs and the absence of a ‘true’ serverless relational database on AWS.

Introduced in the summer of 2018, Aurora Serverless v1 lacks support for Multi-AZ clusters and does not incorporate the latest major releases of MySQL and PostgreSQL. However, clusters can automatically scale down to zero in the absence of activity. In the email to current customers, the cloud provider writes:

We are reaching out to let you know that as of December 31, 2024, Amazon Aurora will no longer support Serverless version 1 (v1). As per the Aurora Version Policy, we are providing 12 months’ notice to give you time to upgrade your database cluster(s). Aurora supports two versions of Serverless. We are only announcing the end of support for Serverless v1. Aurora Serverless v2 continues to be supported. We recommend that you proactively upgrade your databases running Amazon Aurora Serverless v1 to Amazon Aurora Serverless v2 at your convenience before December 31, 2024.

Ganesh Swaminathan, head of cloud solutions architecture at JPMorgan Chase & Co, comments:

Goodbye to a relational database that could idle down to zero on its own. Hello to double the bill (or more – instead of scale 2 zero idle to a higher minimum – v2 has lower min).

While Aurora Serverless v2 significantly narrows the feature gap with provisioned Aurora by introducing replicas, logical replication, and global databases, it cannot scale down to zero. This absence of a zero-scaling feature is important for development and test databases, which may experience extended periods of inactivity. Aurora Serverless v2 mandates a minimum of 0.5 Aurora capacity units (ACUs), resulting in constant charges and provisioning. In a popular Reddit thread, user zmose adds:

I am pretty disappointed that Aurora Serverless V2 cannot seem to scale to 0 ACU. Ya know, what “serverless” is supposed to mean? I think it ends up being around $50/month at minimum.

While most developers stress the price difference for small deployments, SteveTabernacle2 comments:

It is the principle. AWS marketed the “scale-down to zero” point hard. Watch any serverless re:Invent talk pre-2020 and it is likely mentioned within the first 5 minutes of the talk. This new crop of “serverless” offerings (Aurora v2, Elasticache, OpenSearch) should never have been called serverless.

The announcement of the long-awaited RDS Data API v2 is seen by some developers as an indication that the cloud provider is working to bridge the gaps between the two versions. Tim Gustafson, a principal database specialist solutions architect at AWS, instead explains how to upgrade from Aurora Serverless v1 to v2 with minimal downtime, taking advantage of blue/green deployments:

There is a new upgrade path for Aurora Serverless v1 that allows you to go from an Amazon Serverless v1 database to a provisioned Aurora cluster with only a 30-second failover, similar to what would happen if you promoted an Aurora read replica to be the new writer. Then you can use the new blue/green deployment feature to upgrade the database to a version supported by Aurora Serverless v2 and add a serverless instance to your cluster.

Noting that AWS rarely retires a service, Yan Cui, independent consultant and AWS Serverless Hero, points out:

Sadly, Aurora Serverless v1 is on the way out (…) It’s a rare incidence of AWS shutting down a service (I mean, SimpleDB is still around!).

As Aurora Serverless v1 and Aurora Serverless v2 support different versions of the MySQL and PostgreSQL engines, Gustafson warns:

Before we can migrate to Amazon Serverless v2, we need to upgrade the database to a version that Amazon Serverless v2 supports. (…) Doing a major version upgrade requires some planning, and should be done with the proper amount of testing.

Besides the email sent to existing users of Aurora Serverless v1, the cloud provider has not made any official announcements or shared a detailed roadmap regarding the retirement of the service.

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