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Amazon has tuned-up its flash-backed DynamoDB database so that more complex queries can be done in less time.

Amazon announced the upgrade on Thursday, which sees the cloud computing company add in a "Local Secondary Index" (LSI) feature that lets admins create five additional indexes across which to query, letting the DB do more of the work traditionally done by administrators.

"LSI will now give you the ability to perform fast queries against other attributes (or columns) in your table," Amazon CTO Werner Vogels wrote. "This gives you the ability to perform richer queries while still meeting the low-latency demands of responsive, scalable applications."

A DynamoDB repository consists of a data table with a number of attributes. The first and second attributes form the hash key and range key out of which Amazon builds the primary index.

Prior to the launch of LSI, Amazon let you run queries either just across the hash (Show us everything by Team Register [hash]), or across a hash key with a range key (Show me the ten most recent articles [range] by Team Register [hash]).

However, running queries more complex than this was difficult, which meant that although DynamoDB is blisteringly fast and scalable, it couldn't fit as many workloads as administrators would perhaps like.

With LSI, admins can query across up to five additional indexes, so you could ask it questions such as Show us the ten most recent [range] articles by Team Register [hash] with above 10 comments [range1] that reference LOHAN [range2].

To do this before, LSI would require using a secondary application to query the database and winnow down the results. With LSI, you can perform this query within the application, so Amazon has done its typical thing of taking work off administrators' hands by increasing the sophistication of its own services [Can we please just start calling this outsourcing?—Ed.].

"By using LSI, you can now push that work to DynamoDB. Crucially, it does so while protecting the scalability and performance that our customers demand. Tables with one or more LSI's will exhibit the same latency and throughput performance as those without any indexes," Vogels wrote.

Though LSI can reduce the number of queries needed, and the time it takes to perform some of them, it can also lead to a rise in the cost of running DynamoD. "Every secondary index means more work for DynamoDB," the company wrote in a separate blog post.

The feature became available on Thursday from Amazon's data center hubs in Northern Virginia (US East), Oregon and Northern California (US West), São Paulo (South America), Ireland (Europe), and Singapore, Tokyo, and Sidney (Asia Pacific).

By adding these features to DynamoDB, Amazon has taken some of the features of the old traditional SQL world such as flexible queries, and brought them across to its scalable and fast DynamoDB. This is representative of an overall philosophical shift within Amazon, Vogels wrote, that sees Bezos & Co. take a NoSQL-first policy, build apps around DynamoDB as much as possible, and avoid use of MySQL or other typical relational databases unless their queries absolutely demand it. ®

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