Amazon Aurora to Panoply

This page provides you with instructions on how to extract data from Amazon Aurora and load it into Panoply. (If this manual process sounds onerous, check out Stitch, which can do all the heavy lifting for you in just a few clicks.)

What is Amazon Aurora?

Amazon Aurora is a MySQL-compatible relational database employed by organizations that are looking for better performance than they can get from MySQL at cost-effective price points. Aurora is best used as a transactional or operational database and not for analytics.

What is Panoply?

Panoply is a managed data warehouse platform that lets users set up an Amazon Redshift instance in just a few clicks. Complex tasks like schema building, data mining, modeling, scaling, performance tuning, security, and backup are handled by an array of machine learning algorithms. Panoply can import data with no schema, no modeling, and no configuration, and you can use your favorite analysis, SQL, and visualization tools just as you would if you were creating a Redshift data warehouse on your own.

Getting data out of Amazon Aurora

Aurora provides several methods for extracting data; the one you use may depend upon your needs and skill set.

The most common way to get data out of any database is simply to write queries. SELECT queries allow you to pull the data you want. You can specifying filters and ordering, and limit results.

If you’re looking to export data in bulk, there may be an easier way. A handy command-line tool called mysqldump allows you to export entire tables and databases in a format you specify (i.e. delimited text, CSV, or SQL queries that would restore the database if run).

Preparing Amazon Aurora data

For every table in your Amazon Aurora database, you'll need a corresponding table in your destination database. Make sure you've pinpointed all of the fields that will be inserted into your destination, and determined the datatypes for each object (i.e. INTEGER, DATETIME, etc.) to make sure they are mapped properly when they get inserted into the new table.

Loading data into Panoply

Once you've identified all the columns you want to insert, you can use Redshift's CREATE TABLE statement to create a table to receive all of the data.

Once you have a table built, you might think that the easiest way to migrate your data (especially if there isn't much of it) would be to build INSERT statements to add data to your Redshift table row by row. Don't do it! Redshift isn't optimized for inserting data one row at a time. If you have a high volume of data to be inserted, we suggest loading the data into Amazon S3 and then using the COPY command to load it into Redshift.

Keeping Amazon Aurora data up to date

At this point you’ve coded up a script or written a program to get the data you want and successfully moved it into your data warehouse. But how will you load new or updated data? It's not a good idea to replicate all of your data each time you have updated records. That process would be painfully slow and resource-intensive.

Instead, identify key fields that your script can use to bookmark its progression through the data and use to pick up where it left off as it looks for updated data. Auto-incrementing fields such as updated_at or created_at work best for this. When you've built in this functionality, you can set up your script as a cron job or continuous loop to get new data as it appears in Aurora.

And remember, as with any code, once you write it, you have to maintain it. If Aurora sends a field with a datatype your code doesn't recognize, you may have to modify the script. If your users want slightly different information, you definitely will have to.

Other data warehouse options

Panoply is great, but sometimes you need to optimize for different things when you're choosing a data warehouse. Some folks choose to go with Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery, PostgreSQL, or Snowflake, which are RDBMSes that use similar SQL syntax. If you're interested in seeing the relevant steps for loading data into one of these platforms, check out To Redshift, To BigQuery, To Postgres, and To Snowflake.

Easier and faster alternatives

If all this sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t be alarmed. If you have all the skills necessary to go through this process, chances are building and maintaining a script like this isn’t a very high-leverage use of your time.

Thankfully, products like Stitch were built to solve this problem automatically. With just a few clicks, Stitch starts extracting your Amazon Aurora data via the API, structuring it in a way that is optimized for analysis, and inserting that data into your Panoply data warehouse.