Provisioned vs. On-Demand Capacity Modes in DynamoDB: A Deeper Dive into Cost, Robustness, and Scalability

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Choosing the right capacity mode for your AWS DynamoDB table is crucial for optimizing cost, robustness, and scalability. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the differences between provisioned and on-demand capacity modes, comparing their cost implications, robustness, and scalability in different scenarios.

On-Demand Capacity Mode Scenarios

Scenario 1: Social Media Analytics

A social media analytics platform may experience unpredictable traffic and data ingestion. On-demand capacity mode is suitable for handling traffic fluctuations without manual intervention. This mode provides robustness and scalability by automatically scaling resources to meet demand.

Cost difference: On-demand capacity can be cost-effective for fluctuating workloads, as you only pay for the capacity you use. However, if the workload becomes more predictable, provisioned capacity may be more cost-efficient.

Scenario 2: Gaming Leaderboard

A gaming leaderboard with frequent updates during peak hours and minimal activity during off-peak hours can benefit from on-demand capacity mode. This allows for handling sudden increases in traffic and paying only for the actual capacity used.

Cost difference: On-demand capacity works well with variable workloads and can lead to cost savings when the application experiences significant fluctuations in demand.

Provisioned Capacity Mode Scenarios

Scenario 1: E-commerce Website

An e-commerce website with predictable traffic patterns and consistent read/write operations is better suited for provisioned capacity mode. Accurately estimating the required capacity can optimize costs and maintain consistent performance.

Cost difference: For predictable workloads, the provisioned capacity mode can lead to cost savings, as you only pay for the capacity you reserve. However, over-provisioning or under-provisioning can result in higher costs or performance degradation.

Scenario 2: IoT Device Data Collection

An IoT device data collection system with a consistent number of devices and a predictable data ingestion rate can use provisioned capacity mode. By determining the required capacity, costs can be optimized, and performance can be maintained.

Cost difference: Predictable workloads can be more cost-effective using provisioned capacity mode. However, it is essential to monitor usage to prevent over-provisioning or under-provisioning, which may affect costs and performance.

Robustness and Scalability

Robustness and scalability are crucial factors to consider when choosing a capacity mode for your DynamoDB table. On-demand capacity mode provides better robustness and scalability for unpredictable workloads, as it automatically adjusts the capacity based on demand.

On the other hand, provisioned capacity mode requires a more hands-on approach to maintain robustness and scalability, as you need to estimate and manage the capacity manually. This mode is more suitable for predictable workloads, where you can control the resources required for consistent performance.


In summary, the choice between provisioned and on-demand capacity modes in DynamoDB depends on your application’s specific requirements. On-demand capacity mode offers better flexibility, robustness, and scalability for unpredictable workloads, while provisioned capacity mode can be more cost-effective for predictable workloads with accurately estimated capacity requirements. By carefully considering your application’s needs, you can make an informed decision about which capacity mode to use.

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