DynamoDB vs. Cassandra: Choosing the Right Database for Your Business

Sakshi Khanna 17 Apr, 2024
8 min read


In the digital age, databases are the backbone of any business. They store, organize, and manage vast amounts of data that drive business operations and decision-making. Choosing the right database can significantly impact a business’s efficiency, scalability, and profitability. This article will delve into two popular databases, DynamoDB vs. Cassandra, providing a comprehensive comparison to help you make an informed decision.

DynamoDB vs. Cassandra

What is DynamoDB?

Amazon Web Services (AWS) introduced DynamoDB in 2012 as a fully managed NoSQL database service offering fast and predictable performance, along with seamless scalability. Businesses of all sizes widely choose DynamoDB for its renowned features, including low-latency data access, automatic scaling, and built-in security. It has gained popularity in various industries such as gaming, ad tech, IoT, and others that demand real-time data processing.

What is DynamoDB?

What is Cassandra?

Facebook developed Cassandra and later open-sourced it under Apache in 2008. Cassandra is a distributed NoSQL database designed to handle large amounts of data across many commodity servers, ensuring high availability with no single point of failure. Cassandra’s key features include its linear scalability, robust fault tolerance, and flexible data model. You can use it in finance, retail, and telecommunications sectors, where high availability and fault tolerance are critical.

What is Cassandra?

Want to become a full-stack data scientist? It is time for you to power ahead in your AI & ML career with our BlackBelt Plus Program!

DynamoDB vs. Cassandra: A Detailed Comparison

While comparing, DynamoDB vs. Cassandra, several factors come into play.

Aspect DynamoDBCassandra
Data Model– Key-value store with optional secondary indexes.
– Supports flexible schema.
– JSON-like document support.
– Wide-column store with tables, rows, and columns.
– Supports complex data types.
– CQL (Cassandra Query Language) for querying.

Performance – Offers consistent and predictable performance.
– Automatically scales throughput with demand.
– Low-latency read and write operations.
– Designed for high write and read throughput.
– Performance scales linearly with the addition of nodes.
– Requires manual tuning for optimal performance.
Architecture– Fully managed service by AWS.
– Centralized control with automatic partitioning and load balancing.
– Multi-region, multi-active availability.
– Decentralized, peer-to-peer architecture.
– No single point of failure.
– Each node in the cluster is equal.
Scalability– Automatic horizontal scaling.
– Adjusts throughput by adding or removing capacity units.
– Seamless scalability for both read and write operations.
– Linear scalability by adding more nodes.
– Requires manual configuration for scaling.
– Supports distribution of data across multiple nodes.
Availability– High availability with multi-region and multi-active features.
– Data is replicated across multiple Availability Zones.
– High availability with replication across nodes.
– No single point of failure, nodes can be added or removed without downtime.
Consistency– Supports both eventual and strong consistency.
– Configurable consistency levels.
– Quorum-based approach for consistency.
– Tunable consistency levels.
– Eventual consistency by default.
– Strong consistency options for specific use cases.
Security– AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) for access control.
– Encryption at rest and in transit.
– Fine-grained access control with Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC).
– Authentication and authorization mechanisms.
– Encryption options for data in transit and at rest.
– Integration with external security solutions.

When to Use DynamoDB vs. Cassandra?


  • Serverless Architecture: DynamoDB is for serverless architectures, especially within the AWS ecosystem. It seamlessly integrates with other AWS services, making it a natural choice for AWS-centric applications.
  • Predictable and Consistent Performance: DynamoDB’s automatic scaling and provisioned throughput can be advantageous if your application demands consistent and predictable performance. It ensures low-latency read and write operations.
  • Rapid Development and Deployment: DynamoDB’s fully managed nature simplifies administrative tasks, allowing developers to focus on application logic. It is beneficial for projects that require rapid development and deployment.
  • Flexible Schema and JSON-like Data: DynamoDB supports a flexible schema, enabling developers to add or remove fields without modifying existing data. It also supports JSON-like documents, making it suitable for applications with evolving data models.
  • Global Data Distribution: DynamoDB’s Global Tables can provide low-latency access to data from different geographic locations for scenarios where you need seamless globalon with multi-region, multi-active features data distribution.
  • Pay-per-Use Model: If cost efficiency based on actual usage is crucial for your application, DynamoDB’s pay-per-request pricing model can be advantageous. You only pay for the read and write capacity you consume.


  • High Write and Read Throughput: Use cassandra for high write and read throughput, making it suitable for high-velocity data applications and scenarios requiring low-latency access.
  • Linear Scalability: If your application anticipates significant data volume and traffic growth, Cassandra’s linear scalability by adding more nodes to the cluster can be an advantage.
  • Decentralized Architecture: Cassandra’s decentralized, peer-to-peer architecture with no single point of failure benefits applications requiring fault tolerance and high availability.
  • Tunable Consistency: Cassandra’s tunable consistency is valuable when your application requires tunable consistency levels, and you want fine-grained control over the trade-offs between consistency and availability.
  • Flexible Data Modeling: Cassandra supports a flexible schema with wide-column storage, enabling diverse data types within the same column family. This flexibility is advantageous for applications with evolving data models.
  • Multi-Data Center Configurations: Cassandra’s support for geographical distribution can be crucial for applications that need active-active replication across multiple data centers or geographical regions.
  • Community and Open Source Preference: If an active open-source community and the preference for an open-source solution are essential to your organization, Cassandra, being an Apache project, aligns with these preferences.

Pros and Cons of DynamoDB

DynamoDB is a fully managed service, handling administrative tasks like hardware provisioning, setup, and configuration.DynamoDB’s local development environment has some limitations compared to the full AWS service.
Supports the automatic deletion of old data using the Time-to-Live (TTL) feature.Pricing can be complex, and additional costs may be incurred for features like Global Tables.
Automatic and seamless horizontal scaling as demand increases or decreases.Secondary indexes have some limitations, and global secondary indexes have eventual consistency.
Offers consistent and predictable performance with low-latency read and write operations.DynamoDB lacks support for joins and complex queries that are common in relational databases.
Multi-region, multi-active availability ensures high availability and fault tolerance.Provisioned throughput can be challenging to estimate and manage, leading to potential over-provisioning.
Provides security features such as IAM for access control, encryption at rest and in transit.Limited query flexibility compared to some other NoSQL databases.
Supports a flexible schema, allowing changes to the data model without modifying existing data.Local development might not fully replicate the behavior of the actual DynamoDB service.
Seamlessly integrates with other AWS services, making it a good choice for AWS-centric applications.Developers may need to adapt to the DynamoDB way of modeling data, which can be different from traditional relational databases.
Offers Global Tables for automatic and scalable multi-region data replication.Limited support for complex aggregation queries directly within DynamoDB.
Pay-per-request pricing allows cost efficiency for varying workloads.Limited to 5 Local Secondary Indexes per table.

Pros and Cons of Cassandra

Pros Cons
Scales linearly by adding more nodes to the cluster, making it suitable for large and growing datasets.Configuration and tuning can be complex, especially for optimal performance in certain scenarios.
Designed for high write and read throughput, making it suitable for time-series data and high-velocity applications.Default eventual consistency might not be suitable for all use cases, and tuning consistency levels is required.
Decentralized architecture with no single point of failure; data is replicated across nodes for fault tolerance.Users accustomed to SQL might face a learning curve with Cassandra Query Language (CQL).
Supports a flexible schema with wide-column storage, allowing for the storage of different data types within the same column family.Like many NoSQL databases, Cassandra lacks support for joins, requiring denormalization of data.
Allows tunable consistency levels based on the CAP theorem, giving developers control over trade-offs between consistency and availability.Limited support for complex aggregation functions compared to some other databases.
No rigid schema requirements, providing flexibility in data modeling and evolution over time.Initial setup, configuration, and data modeling might have a steeper learning curve for new users.
Developed and maintained by the Apache Software Foundation, with an active and supportive community.While Cassandra provides some security features, additional measures might be needed for enterprise-level security.
Supports distribution of data across multiple data centers and geographical regions for improved performance and fault tolerance.Secondary indexes have limitations, and their use should be carefully considered.
Supports CQL, which is similar to SQL, making it more accessible for users familiar with relational databases.The wide-column store can result in storage overhead, especially when dealing with small datasets.
Allows for multi-data center configurations, enabling active-active replication for improved availability.Limited support for complex analytics compared to some other databases designed for analytics.

Use cases for Cassandra and MongoDB

Use Cases For Cassandra

Lots of Data Coming In: Cassandra is great when you have tons of data pouring in from different sources, such as unstructured data, like when you’re tracking lots of devices or social media activity.

Big Data Across Many Places: If you need to store document-oriented data model across different places, like multiple offices or countries, Cassandra can handle it well.

Time-Based Data: If you’re dealing with semi-structured data that’s all about time, like when events happen or when things are recorded, Cassandra is a good fit.

Growing Your System Easily: Cassandra makes it easy to grow your system by adding more computers without slowing down or causing problems.

Mixing Different Clouds: If you’re using different cloud services or have some of your own servers, Cassandra can work smoothly across all of them.

Use Cases for MongoDB:

Flexible Data: MongoDB is great when your data is a bit messy or can change a lot, like in apps where users can input different types of information.

Looking at Data Fast: If you need to quickly analyze your data to find trends or patterns, MongoDB’s tools help you do that easily.

Trying Out New Ideas: MongoDB is perfect for trying out new features in your app because you don’t need to plan out exactly how your data will look ahead of time.

Organizing Content: If you have lots of different types of content, like articles, images, and videos, MongoDB can store them all together neatly.

Making Apps for Phones and Websites: MongoDB works well for apps that run on phones or websites, especially if they need to show where things are located or if they need to work offline.


DynamoDB vs. Cassandra offers unique features and capabilities. The choice between the two depends on your specific use case, scalability needs, and budget. It is crucial to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each database to make an informed decision that best suits your business needs.

Want to become a full-stack data scientist? It is time for you to power ahead in your AI & ML career with our BlackBelt Plus Program!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Is DynamoDB better than Cassandra?

A. DynamoDB and Cassandra cater to different needs. DynamoDB, fully managed and scalable, is ideal for simpler queries. Cassandra, offering more control, suits complex queries but requires manual management.

Q2. When should you not use Cassandra?

A. Avoid Cassandra for small projects or when simplicity is crucial. Its complexity and resource demands might outweigh benefits in scenarios with limited data or straightforward querying needs.

Q3. Do people still use Cassandra?

A. Yes, Cassandra is still widely used, especially in large-scale distributed systems and industries requiring high availability. It remains prevalent in finance, healthcare, and telecommunications.

Q4. Can I use Cassandra in AWS?

A. Yes, Cassandra can be used on AWS. While DynamoDB is a native AWS service, Cassandra can be deployed on Amazon EC2 or through managed services like DataStax Astra, providing flexibility in hosting on AWS infrastructure.

Q5. What is better than Cassandra?

When it comes to querying data and dealing with flexible schemas in the realm of data science, alternatives to Cassandra abound. Apache HBase, Couchbase, ScyllaDB, Amazon DynamoDB, and MongoDB all offer different approaches and strengths. Each of these options can be tailored to suit various use cases, depending on factors such as specific requirements, scalability needs, and expertise. So, while Cassandra might be a popular choice, exploring these alternatives can lead to finding the best fit for your data management needs.

Sakshi Khanna 17 Apr, 2024

Frequently Asked Questions

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit,

Responses From Readers