Choosing the right database is a critical choice when building any software application. All databases have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to performance, so deciding which database has the most benefits and the most minor downsides for your specific use case and data model is an important decision. Below you will find an overview of the key concepts, architecture, features, use cases, and pricing models of AWS Redshift and TimescaleDB so you can quickly see how they compare against each other.
The primary purpose of this article is to compare how AWS Redshift and TimescaleDB perform for workloads involving time series data, not for all possible use cases. Time series data typically presents a unique challenge in terms of database performance. This is due to the high volume of data being written and the query patterns to access that data. This article doesn’t intend to make the case for which database is better; it simply provides an overview of each database so you can make an informed decision.
AWS Redshift vs TimescaleDB Breakdown
Time Series Database
AWS Redshift utilizes a columnar storage format for fast querying and supports standard SQL. Redshift uses a distributed, shared-nothing architecture, where data is partitioned across multiple compute nodes. Each node is further divided into slices, with each slice processing a subset of data in parallel. Redshift can be deployed in a single-node or multi-node cluster, with the latter providing better performance for large datasets.
TimescaleDB is built on top of PostgreSQL and inherits its architecture. It extends PostgreSQL with time-series-specific optimizations and functions, allowing it to manage time series data efficiently. It can be deployed as a single node, in a multi-node setup, or in the cloud as a managed service.
Timescale License (for TimescaleDB Community Edition); Apache 2.0 (for core PostgreSQL)
Business analytics, large-scale data processing, real-time dashboards, data integration, machine learning
Monitoring, observability, IoT, real-time analytics, financial market data
Supports scaling storage and compute independently, with support for adding or removing nodes as needed
Horizontally scalable through native support for partitioning, replication, and sharding. Offers multi-node capabilities for distributing data and queries across nodes.
AWS Redshift Overview
Amazon Redshift is a fully managed, petabyte-scale data warehouse service in the cloud. It was launched in 2012 as part of the AWS suite of products. Redshift is designed for analytic workloads and integrates with various data loading and ETL tools, as well as business intelligence and reporting tools. It uses columnar storage to optimize storage costs and improve query performance.
TimescaleDB is an open source time series database built on top of PostgreSQL. It was created to address the challenges of managing time series data, such as scalability, query performance, and data retention policies. TimescaleDB was first released in 2017 and has since become a popular choice for storing and analyzing time series data due to its PostgreSQL compatibility, performance optimizations, and flexible data retention policies.
AWS Redshift for Time Series Data
AWS Redshift can be used for time series data workloads, although Redshift is optimized for more general data warehouse use cases. Users can utilize date and time-based functions to aggregate, filter, and transform time series data. Redshift also offers ‘time-series tables’ which allow data to be stored in tables based on a fixed retention period.
TimescaleDB for Time Series Data
TimescaleDB is specifically designed for time series data, making it a natural choice for storing and querying such data. It provides several advantages for time series data management like horizontal scalability, columnar storage, and retention policy support. However, TimescaleDB may not be the best choice for all time series use cases. One example would be if an application requires very high write throughput or real-time analytics, other specialized time series databases like InfluxDB may be more suitable.
AWS Redshift Key Concepts
- Cluster: A Redshift cluster is a set of nodes, which consists of a leader node and one or more compute nodes. The leader node manages communication with client applications and coordinates query execution among compute nodes.
- Compute Node: These nodes store data and execute queries in parallel. The number of compute nodes in a cluster affects its storage capacity and query performance.
- Columnar Storage: Redshift uses a columnar storage format, which stores data in columns rather than rows. This format improves query performance and reduces storage space requirements.
- Node slices: Compute nodes are divided into slices. Each slice is allocated an equal portion of the node’s memory and disk space, where it processes a portion of the loaded data.
TimescaleDB Key Concepts
- Hypertable: A hypertable is a distributed table that is partitioned by time and possibly other dimensions, such as device ID or location. It is the primary abstraction for storing time series data in TimescaleDB and is designed to scale horizontally across multiple nodes.
- Chunk: A chunk is a partition of a hypertable, containing a subset of the hypertable’s data. Chunks are created automatically by TimescaleDB based on a specified time interval and can be individually compressed, indexed, and backed up for better performance and data management.
- Distributed Hypertables: For large-scale deployments, TimescaleDB supports distributed hypertables, which partition data across multiple nodes for improved query performance and fault tolerance.
AWS Redshift Architecture
Redshift’s architecture is based on a distributed and shared-nothing architecture. A cluster consists of a leader node and one or more compute nodes. The leader node is responsible for coordinating query execution, while compute nodes store data and execute queries in parallel. Data is stored in a columnar format, which improves query performance and reduces storage space requirements. Redshift uses Massively Parallel Processing (MPP) to distribute and execute queries across multiple nodes, allowing it to scale horizontally and provide high performance for large-scale data warehousing workloads.
TimescaleDB is an extension built on PostgreSQL, inheriting its relational data model and SQL support. However, TimescaleDB extends PostgreSQL with custom data structures and optimizations for time series data, such as hypertables and chunks.
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AWS Redshift Features
Redshift allows you to scale your cluster up or down by adding or removing compute nodes, enabling you to adjust your storage capacity and query performance based on your needs.
Redshift’s columnar storage format and MPP architecture enable it to deliver high-performance query execution for large-scale data warehousing workloads.
Redshift provides a range of security features, including encryption at rest and in transit, network isolation using Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), and integration with AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) for access control.
TimescaleDB automatically partitions time series data tables using hypertables and chunks, which simplifies data management and improves query performance.
Time series focused SQL functions
TimescaleDB provides several specialized SQL functions and operators for time series data application scenarios, such as time_bucket, first, and last, which simplify querying and aggregating time series data.
As mentioned earlier, TimescaleDB extends PostgreSQL’s query planner for writing and querying time series data, including optimizations like time-based indexing and chunk pruning.
AWS Redshift Use Cases
Redshift is designed for large-scale data warehousing workloads, providing a scalable and high-performance solution for storing and analyzing structured data.
Business Intelligence and Reporting
Redshift integrates with various BI and reporting tools, enabling organizations to gain insights from their data and make data-driven decisions.
ETL and Data Integration
Redshift supports data loading and extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) processes, allowing you to integrate data from various sources and prepare it for analysis.
TimescaleDB Use Cases
Monitoring and metrics
TimescaleDB is well-suited for storing and analyzing monitoring and metrics data, such as server performance metrics, application logs, and sensor data. Its hypertable structure and query optimizations make it easy to store, query, and visualize large volumes of time series data.
IoT data storage
TimescaleDB can be used to store and analyze IoT data, such as sensor readings and device status information. Its support for automatic partitioning and specialized SQL interfaces simplifies the management and querying of large-scale IoT datasets.
TimescaleDB is suitable for storing and analyzing financial data, such as stock prices, exchange rates, and trading volumes. Its query optimizations and specialized SQL functions make it easy to perform time-based aggregations and analyze trends in financial data.
AWS Redshift Pricing Model
Amazon Redshift offers two pricing models: On-Demand and Reserved Instances. With On-Demand pricing, you pay for the capacity you use on an hourly basis, with no long-term commitments. Reserved Instances offer the option to reserve capacity for a one- or three-year term, with a lower hourly rate compared to On-Demand pricing. In addition to these pricing models, you can also choose between different node types, which offer different amounts of storage, memory, and compute resources.
TimescaleDB Pricing Model
TimescaleDB is available in two editions: TimescaleDB Open Source and TimescaleDB Cloud. The open-source edition is free to use and can be self-hosted, while the cloud edition is a managed service with a pay-as-you-go pricing model based on storage, compute, and data transfer usage. TimescaleDB Cloud offers various pricing tiers with different levels of resources and features, such as continuous backups and high availability.
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