The following are the basic DynamoDB components:
Tables – Similar to other database systems, DynamoDB stores data in tables. A table is a collection of data. For example, you can create a table called Movies that you could use to store a collection of movies to support your eCommerce application. You could also have a Theaters table to store information about where the movies are playing.
Items – Each table contains zero or more items. An item is a group of attributes that is uniquely identifiable among all of the other items. In a Movies table, each item represents a movie. For a Theaters table, each item represents one theater. Items in DynamoDB are similar in many ways to rows, records, or tuples in other database systems. In DynamoDB, there is no limit to the number of items you can store in a table.
Attributes – Each item is composed of one or more attributes. An attribute is a fundamental data element, something that does not need to be broken down any further. For example, an item in a Movies table contains attributes called Title, description, rating, price, and so on. For a Theaters table, an item might have attributes such as Address, Number_of_Screens, Manager, and so on. Attributes in DynamoDB are similar in many ways to fields or columns in other database systems.
When you create a table, in addition to the table name, you must specify the primary key of the table. The primary key uniquely identifies each item in the table, so that no two items can have the same key.
DynamoDB supports two different kinds of primary keys:
Partition key – A simple primary key, composed of one attribute known as the partition key.
DynamoDB uses the partition key’s value as input to an internal hash function. The output from the hash function determines the partition (physical storage internal to DynamoDB) in which the item will be stored.
In a table that has only a partition key, no two items can have the same partition key value.
The People table described in Tables, Items, and Attributes is an example of a table with a simple primary key (PersonID). You can access any item in the People table directly by providing the PersonId value for that item.
Partition key and sort key – Referred to as a composite primary key, this type of key is composed of two attributes. The first attribute is the partition key, and the second attribute is the sort key.
DynamoDB uses the partition key value as input to an internal hash function. The output from the hash function determines the partition (physical storage internal to DynamoDB) in which the item will be stored. All items with the same partition key are stored together, in sorted order by sort key value.
In a table that has a partition key and a sort key, it’s possible for two items to have the same partition key value. However, those two items must have different sort key values.
The Music table described in Tables, Items, and Attributes is an example of a table with a composite primary key (Artist and SongTitle). You can access any item in the Music table directly, if you provide the Artist and SongTitle values for that item.
A composite primary key gives you additional flexibility when querying data. For example, if you provide only the value for Artist, DynamoDB retrieves all of the songs by that artist. To retrieve only a subset of songs by a particular artist, you can provide a value for Artist along with a range of values for SongTitle.
Both Amazon DynamoDB and Amazon ES are databases. You use their APIs to send and store data, as well as query that data. However, they provide different and complementary capabilities, especially when it comes to searching the underlying data. When you have textual data or many structured fields, you use DynamoDB as a primary, durable store and Amazon ES to provide search for your data.