When preparing for the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Solutions Architect – Associate (SAA-C03) exam, it is critical to have a firm grasp on the aspect of database capacity planning. Understanding the nuances of capacity units, instance types, and Provisioned IOPS is fundamental to designing robust and economical Cloud-based architectures.

Table of Contents

Database Capacity Units

In AWS, capacity planning starts with understanding the concept of capacity units. AWS DynamoDB, for example, uses the concept of Read and Write Capacity Units to manage its throughput. A read capacity unit represents one strongly consistent read per second, or two eventually consistent reads per second, for an item up to 4KB in size. Likewise, a write capacity unit represents one write per second for an item up to 1KB in size. Understanding capacity units enables efficient allocation of read-write operations, ensuring the proper functioning of the system under different load scenarios and maintaining cost-effectiveness.

Instance Types

When it comes to database capacity planning, selecting the appropriate instance type is another significant decision. AWS offers a wide variety of instance types optimized to fit different use cases. Instance types determine the hardware of the host computer and can be categorized based on their compute, memory, storage, and networking capacity.

For example, for memory-intensive applications, the R series of instances may be chosen. On the other hand, applications that demand higher processing power may require C series instances. Knowing which instance type to select for specific use-cases means achieving the desired performance on workloads while efficiently managing costs.

Provisioned IOPS

IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second) is a common performance metric for storage devices, and AWS offers Provisioned IOPS for databases that require high-speed, consistent, and low-latency responses. EB2 and RDS are two services where Provisioned IOPS is often used.

AWS allows you to specify the IOPS rate while creating a database instance, enabling you to optimize the performance based on the needs of the application. AWS guarantees that Provisioned IOPS instances will deliver within 10% of the provisioned IOPS performance 99.9% of the time over a given year.

For instance, an application with heavy read-write operations might require a database with high Provisioned IOPS. Lower Provisioned IOPS can typically serve small to medium loads, but they might cause latency issues when the demand increases.


In closing, database capacity planning is vital to designing and implementing efficient, performance-optimized, and cost-effective solutions on AWS. A dull understanding of capacity units, instance types, and Provisioned IOPS is, therefore, a must for anyone preparing for the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate (SAA-C03) exam.

Before settling on any specific configuration, it is advised to analyze the requirements of the application thoroughly, estimate future growth, and ask the right questions. What are the expected read-write operations per second? Does the application need more computing power or memory? Is consistent, high-speed data access crucial? The answer to these will aid in making appropriate decisions regarding capacity planning.

Remember, the primary objective of capacity planning is to ensure that the database can handle the intended workload competently and cost-effectively.

Happy Studying!

Practice Test

True/False: AWS RDS instances can be used for database capacity planning.

  • 1) True
  • 2) False

Answer: True

Explanation: AWS RDS instances are used to manage and scale operations on databases making it very useful for database capacity planning.

Single select: Which of the following is NOT a component of database capacity planning?

  • a) Estimating data storage
  • b) Managing workload
  • c) Performance tuning
  • d) Graphic designing

Answer: d) Graphic designing

Explanation: Graphic designing isn’t related with database capacity planning.

Single select: Which AWS service records the latency of a DynamoDB table?

  • a) AWS CloudTrail Logs
  • b) AWS X-Ray
  • c) Amazon CloudWatch
  • d) AWS Matrix

Answer: c) Amazon CloudWatch

Explanation: Amazon CloudWatch allows you to collect default and custom metrics of the performance of DynamoDB tables from a latency perspective.

Multiple Select: The AWS RDS instance types that support provisioned IOPS are _______, ________, and ________.

  • a) db.m4xlarge
  • b) db.m2xlarge
  • c) db.mlarge
  • d) db.mxlarge

Answer: a) db.m4xlarge, b) db.m2xlarge and d) db.mxlarge

Explanation: The AWS RDS instance types that support provisioned IOPS are db.m4xlarge, db.m2xlarge, and db.mxlarge.

True/False: Every AWS RDS instance type supports provisioned IOPS.

  • 1) True
  • 2) False

Answer: False

Explanation: Not all AWS RDS instance types support provisioned IOPS.

Single select: The unit of measurement for database capacity in DynamoDB is _______.

  • a) GB
  • b) IOPS
  • c) Capacity units
  • d) Tokens

Answer: c) Capacity units

Explanation: Capacity units are the unit of measurement that DynamoDB uses for throughput capacity.

True/False: AWS RDS uses instance types to differentiate the hardware of the host computer.

  • 1) True
  • 2) False

Answer: True

Explanation: AWS RDS uses instance types to determine the hardware of the host computer for a DB instance.

Single select: In terms of Amazon RDS, what does IOPS stand for?

  • a) Input Operations Per Second
  • b) Improvised Operations Per Second
  • c) Input Output Operations Per Second
  • d) Intelligent Operations Per Second

Answer: c) Input Output Operations Per Second

Explanation: IOPS, in context of Amazon RDS, stands for Input Output Operations Per Second.

Multiple Select: Which of the following need to be considered during database capacity planning?

  • a) Expected growth
  • b) Performance metrics
  • c) Data retention requirements
  • d) Current book value

Answer: a) Expected growth, b) Performance metrics, c) Data retention requirements

Explanation: Expected growth, performance metrics, and data retention requirements are all key considerations during database capacity planning.

Single select: Which factor directly affects the cost of database capacity planning?

  • a) Storage space
  • b) Instance type
  • c) IOPS
  • d) All of the above

Answer: d) All of the above

Explanation: The cost of database capacity planning is directly affected by storage space, instance type, and IOPS as they each impact AWS usage costs.

True/False: Database capacity planning strategies are uniform across different types of databases.

  • 1) True
  • 2) False

Answer: False

Explanation: Database capacity planning strategies vary depending on the specific requirements of the database such as type of data, expected load, growth rate, etc.

Single select: What vital role does provisioned IOPS play in AWS?

  • a) Enhances storage performance
  • b) Reduces storage costs
  • c) Increases storage capacity
  • d) None of the above

Answer: a) Enhances storage performance

Explanation: Provisioned IOPS are designed to deliver fast, predictable, and consistent I/O performance, and hence, enhance the storage performance.

True/False: Database capacity units in DynamoDB can be increased or decreased anytime without any downtime.

  • 1) True
  • 2) False

Answer: True

Explanation: DynamoDB allows on-the-fly adjustments of read and write capacity, hence allowing adjusting capacity units with no downtime.

Single select: Which AWS service can assist with database workload management?

  • a) Amazon RedShift
  • b) AWS Lambda
  • c) AWS Glue
  • d) Amazon Elastic Beanstalk

Answer: a) Amazon RedShift

Explanation: Amazon RedShift can enforce query priority when executing queries helping manage database workload.

True/False: Provisioned IOPS can deliver high IO rates but it doesn’t guarantee a consistent IO latency.

  • 1) True
  • 2) False

Answer: False

Explanation: Provisioned IOPS is designed to provide fast, predictable, and consistent IO performance which includes consistently low latencies.

Interview Questions

What is database capacity planning?

Database capacity planning is the process of predicting the storage space required by a database in the future to handle increasing amounts of data. It involves evaluating the current database performance, assessing the growth rate of your database, and predicting future requirements.

What are the factors to consider while planning the database capacity?

When planning for database capacity, key factors to consider include current database size, projected data growth, the rate of data aggregation, performance of current database system, potential peak load times, and the types of queries and operations that will be run.

What is meant by capacity units in AWS?

Capacity units in AWS represent the measure of the throughput and storage that a table uses. It’s a way of controlling the costs of your DynamoDB usage. They are provisioned on different AWS services like DynamoDB, Aurora etc.

What are instance types in AWS RDS?

Instance types in AWS RDS define the hardware of the host computer used for the database instance. Each instance type offers different levels of CPU, memory, storage, and network capacity.

What are Provisioned IOPS in AWS?

Provisioned IOPS in AWS are a storage option designed to deliver fast, predictable, and consistent I/O performance. It is used in cases of high I/O loads where consistency in throughput is the requirement.

How does the capacity planning help in cost optimization in AWS?

Capacity planning helps organizations match their IT resources with actual business demand. By accurately predicting future needs, companies can avoid over-provisioning and thus reduce wastage of resources leading to cost optimization in AWS.

What is a capacity unit in DynamoDB?

A capacity unit in DynamoDB defines the throughput for reads and writes to your tables. It helps to manage the cost and maintain the performance of the DynamoDB tables.

What factors should be considered when selecting an AWS RDS instance type?

When selecting an AWS RDS instance type, consider CPU capacity, memory, network performance, I/O capability, and storage capacity. The choice should align with your workloads requirements.

How do you determine the Provisioned IOPS needed for your AWS RDS instance?

The Provisioned IOPS required for your AWS RDS instance depends on the database workload. By monitoring the database performance and identifying peak usage periods, you can estimate the IOPS requirement.

Why is monitoring important in database capacity planning?

Monitoring is important in database capacity planning because it gives businesses insight into how databases are performing, how quickly they’re growing, and potential areas of concern. This data is crucial in making informed decisions about capacity planning.

Is it possible to alter the database instance type and Provisioned IOPS on AWS RDS?

Yes, you can modify the database instance type and Provisioned IOPS in AWS RDS. However, it’s important to note that the modification process may cause a brief I/O interruption.

What are the best practices for database capacity planning on AWS?

Best practices for database capacity planning on AWS include continuous monitoring of database performance, anticipating future needs and growth, using appropriate instance types and storage options, leveraging autoscaling wherever applicable, and regularly reviewing capacity planning decisions.

What is the maximum Provisioned IOPS that you can provision for an RDS DB instance?

As of the latest documentation, the maximum Provisioned IOPS that you can provision for an RDS DB instance is 80,000 IOPS. However, it’s always advisable to check the latest documentation as the values can change.

Can throughput capacity for DynamoDB be manually controlled?

Yes, Amazon DynamoDB allows you to manually manage throughput capacity by specifying capacity units while creating or updating tables.

What is the role of Amazon CloudWatch in database capacity planning?

Amazon CloudWatch plays a crucial role in database capacity planning by providing visibility into system performance and operational health. It collects and tracks metrics, collects and monitors log files, and responds to system-wide performance changes. It aids in performing analysis that guides capacity planning decisions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *