DynamoDB vs. MongoDB: A Comprehensive Contrast of NoSQL Giants

Aditi Prakash
August 26, 2023
10 min read
DynamoDB and MongoDB are solid NoSQL databases with unique strengths and applications. While DynamoDB is a managed database service offered by AWS, designed for scalability and speed, MongoDB is a versatile, open-source, document-based database.

This guide provides an in-depth comparison, spotlighting each platform’s nuances, pros, cons, and ideal scenarios.

In a world where data is generated at an unprecedented rate, the importance of NoSQL databases has grown exponentially. Unlike traditional relational databases, NoSQL databases offer diverse data models and can handle vast amounts of data in varying data types. 

Amazon DynamoDB and MongoDB are two renowned non-relational databases

DynamoDB, a fully managed service by Amazon Web Services (AWS), emphasizes high availability and seamless scaling. MongoDB, an open-source platform, boasts a powerful document data model and extensive querying capabilities.

In this article, we will look at database management systems and their core features and explore their key differences in detail.

What is DynamoDB?

Amazon DynamoDB is a fully managed database service offered by AWS, designed to meet the demands of modern, high-velocity applications. It supports key-value and document data models, accommodating a variety of data structures.

DynamoDB’s core strength is its seamless scalability and consistent performance, making it a go-to choice for applications with varying workloads.

It employs a distributed architecture that partitions data across multiple servers, also known as nodes. The NoSQL database also uses key-value pairs to store data. Each data item is identified by a primary key, which can be a simple partition key or a combination of partition and sort keys. 

Data items with the same partition key are stored together, facilitating efficient querying and retrieval.

DynamoDB’s architecture inherently supports the concept of eventual consistency, ensuring that data changes propagate to all replicas over time. 

Key Features & Strengths

The non-relational database has the following main features:

  • Managed Service: DynamoDB is fully managed, sparing developers the intricacies of hardware provisioning, setup, and maintenance. This means reduced operational overhead and a greater focus on application development.
  • Scalability: The database’s automatic scaling mechanism is a standout feature. It can handle traffic spikes and growing datasets by adjusting read and write capacity units without manual intervention.
  • High Availability: With built-in multi-region replication and backup capabilities, DynamoDB ensures high availability and data durability, making it suitable for mission-critical applications.
  • Predictable Performance: DynamoDB offers single-digit millisecond latencies for both read and write operations, guaranteeing consistent performance irrespective of the scale.

What is MongoDB?

MongoDB is a leading open-source NoSQL database that excels in flexibility, scalability, and versatility. It uses a document-oriented data model, so you can efficiently store and manage semi-structured and unstructured data.

It caters to modern application development needs by offering rich querying capabilities and horizontal scaling.

MongoDB employs a distributed architecture and can be deployed as a single-node server or a cluster of nodes. Each cluster consists of shards, which are subsets of data distributed across different servers. 

The flexible data model is well-suited for applications with varying data structures so that you can store heterogeneous data in a single collection. MongoDB supports high availability through replication.

Key Features & Strengths

The NoSQL database management system has the following core features:

  • Document Model: MongoDB stores data in flexible JSON-like documents, allowing developers to work with data in a more natural and dynamic way.
  • Dynamic Schemas: MongoDB’s schema-less design enables agile development, allowing changes to the data structure without requiring a rigid schema.
  • Querying and Aggregation: The platform supports complex queries and aggregations, enabling robust data retrieval and analysis.
  • Horizontal Scalability: Sharding allows MongoDB to distribute data across clusters of servers, ensuring efficient scaling to handle large datasets and high traffic.
  • Indexing: MongoDB supports various types of indexes, which are strongly consistent with the underlying data, enhancing query performance and allowing efficient data retrieval.
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Unveiling the DynamoDB vs MongoDB Showdown

DynamoDB, the AWS offering, boasts seamless scalability and high availability, leveraging key-value and document data models for low-latency applications. MongoDB, an open-source counterpart, showcases flexible JSON-like document storage, robust querying features, and dynamic schema support. While DynamoDB emphasizes scalability and performance, MongoDB prioritizes flexibility and advanced querying.

The decision between the two hinges on specific application requirements and priorities. Here’s a table giving you a glance at the key differences between DynamoDB and MongoDB:

DynamoDB vs. MongoDB differences

Let’s dive deeper into the main differences:

Data Model

Data in DynamoDB is organized around tables, and each table consists of items (rows) with a primary key. This key enforces uniqueness, where attributes within items can vary. However, changes to the schema require table recreation. It supports both key-value and document data models.

MongoDB is built on the document database model. Data is stored in flexible BSON (binary JSON) documents, allowing for nested structures and dynamic schemas. Each document has a unique “_id” field, and documents within a collection can have different attributes. 

This flexibility supports agile development and evolving data requirements without strict upfront schema design.


Amazon DynamoDB handles infrastructure provisioning, scaling, and maintenance, allowing users to focus solely on application development.

MongoDB offers various deployment options. Users can self-host MongoDB on their infrastructure or opt for cloud-based managed services like MongoDB Atlas, which handles setup, scaling, backups, and monitoring.

Self-hosting provides more control but demands greater operational responsibility.


DynamoDB can scale automatically by adjusting read and write capacity units. It can handle high-throughput applications and manage massive datasets. Scaling can be vertical (changing capacity units) and horizontal (partitioning data).

MongoDB achieves high scalability through horizontal sharding. Data is distributed across multiple nodes or clusters, allowing it to handle increased load and storage requirements. Users can choose how data is sharded to optimize performance.


DynamoDB’s pricing is based on charges for reading, writing, and storing data. Users pay for the resources allocated, which provides predictable costs but requires careful capacity planning. 

The platform has two pricing options - on-demand capacity mode, which charges you for reads and writes performed on your DynamoDB tables, and provisioned capacity mode, where you can specify the number of reads and writes per second that you might need.

MongoDB Community Edition is open-source and free, making it perfect for self-hosted deployment. Their fully managed cloud data service MongoDB Atlas has two pricing tiers - Dedicated, which starts at $57 per month, and Serverless, which starts at $0.10 per million reads. 

They also offer an Enterprise Advanced option with a custom pricing model for large businesses that want to customize the deployment of the database on-premise or on a private cloud.

Performance Considerations

Performance is a crucial consideration when choosing between non-relational databases. Here’s a general overview of factors that impact the chhoice of Amazon DynamoDB vs MongoDB:


On DynamoDB, indexing and partition key design are critical. Creating proper indexes, based on your application’s data access patterns, can boost performance. However, uneven data distribution can lead to “hot” partitions, causing uneven resource utilization and potential throttling. 

Consistency levels must also be considered. Strong consistency can impact performance more than eventual consistency due to the need for additional communication across nodes.


For MongoDB, the schema design, structure of documents, and proper indexing are vital. Improperly indexed queries can slow down query execution as the database scans large portions of data. Deeply nested documents or unoptimized structures also lead to slower queries.

Poorly chosen sharding keys, ineffective aggregations, and inadequate hardware specifications can also hinder performance.

Caching and Query Patterns

Amazon DynamoDB Accelerator (DAX) is an in-memory caching service that can significantly improve read performance by reducing the load on the base table.

Query patterns efficiently utilizing partition and sort keys can leverage DynamoDB’s underlying architecture for optimal results.

MongoDB provides an in-memory storage engine that can be used to improve read-heavy workloads. Proper use of caching mechanisms, such as the WiredTiger storage engine’s cache, can enhance performance. Designing queries that leverage indexes and avoid full collection scans is important.

Ultimately, the performance of both NoSQL giants depends on various factors, including data modeling, data types, workload patterns, and proper utilization of each tool’s features. Conducting thorough testing and optimization tailored to your application’s needs is essential.

Development and Ecosystem

Database-related decisions also depend on how easy it is for your data team to use the system. Let’s look at MongoDB and DynamoDB’s user experience.


  • Query Language: DynamoDB Query Language allows for basic querying based on primary keys and secondary indexes. More complex queries require application-level filtering and processing.
  • Tools and SDKs: AWS provides SDKs for many programming languages, simplifying integration with DynamoDB. Tools like AWS CloudFormation and AWS Amplify simplify infrastructure management and application deployment.
  • Community: DynamoDB has a strong community. Developers can find resources, tutorials, and forums for troubleshooting.
  • Plugins and Extensions: While DynamoDB has few third-party plugins, it offers integrations with various AWS tools for building comprehensive applications.
  • Support: AWS provides extensive support options, including documentation, forums, official support plans, and enterprise-level support.
  • Integration and Ecosystem: DynamoDB is deeply integrated with the AWS ecosystem, making it suitable for applications hosted on AWS. It can seamlessly integrate with Lambda, S3, Step Functions, and other AWS platforms.


  • Query Language: MongoDB Query Language (MQL) offers powerful capabilities for querying data, including filtering and text search. Developers can perform complex analytical queries directly within the database.
  • Tools and SDKs: MongoDB offers official drivers and libraries for popular programming languages, streamlining integration. MongoDB Atlas database provides a user-friendly interface for cloud-based deployments.
  • Community: The NoSQL database has a vibrant and active community. It benefits from being open-source and widely used, resulting in many resources, blog posts, and community-driven solutions.
  • Plugins and Extensions: It has an extensive ecosystem of third-party plugins and libraries that extend its functionality, including drivers, ODMs (Object-Document Mappers), and integrations.
  • Support: MongoDB offers various support tiers, from community support to enterprise-level support. MongoDB University provides free online courses and resources to help developers learn and master the database.
  • Integration and Ecosystem: MongoDB supports deployment on various cloud platforms. It has integrations with cloud providers and platforms like Kubernetes, allowing it to be used in diverse environments.

Database Duel: Use Cases & Real-world Implementations

Let's delve into real-world success stories showcasing the effective utilization of these Databases for storing and managing data.


DynamoDB’s seamless integration with AWS services makes it a strong choice for web and mobile apps hosted on AWS. It suits scenarios where real-time data processing, such as real-time dashboards or analytics, is crucial.

Leading companies have used DynamoDB to drive their services:

  • Zoom: DynamoDB helped Zoom deal with the massive surge in users during the pandemic and scale globally.
  • Disney: Disney relies on DynamoDB to ingest billions of customer actions daily, along with content and metadata. It enables users to add content to their Watch Lists, continue playing on different devices, and get accurate recommendations.
  • Dropbox: Dropbox used DynamoDB and Amazon S3 to build a scalable metadata store and reduce the cost per gigabyte by a factor of 5.5.


MongoDB’s flexible schema supports content management systems where content structures evolve. It can also handle the diverse data types generated by IoT devices and sensors. Its document model is also ideal for applications with complex relationships and intricate data structures.

Top companies have implemented the NoSQL database:

  • Cathay Pacific: Hong Kong’s premier airline, Cathay Pacific, used MongoDB Atlas to build an in-flight app that digitizes flight documents. This helped them save 100 million HKD (approximately $12.7 million) over five years. 
  • GE Healthcare: GE Healthcare uses MongoDB Atlas to manage the lifecycle of its IoT devices, resulting in an 83% decrease in retrieval time for critical data elements.
  • Verizon: By utilizing MongoDB, Verizon unlocked the potential of its 5G mobile technology and sped up customer experience.

Choosing Between MongoDB vs DynamoDB

Choosing between DynamoDB and MongoDB is akin to selecting the perfect tool for a specific job—a decision influenced by numerous factors.

  • Data Model: MongoDB is better if your data has a flexible schema or requires nested and complex structures. For more structured data types or simple key-value storage, DynamoDB may be preferred.
  • Scalability Requirements: If you anticipate rapid growth, DynamoDB offers seamless scaling with minimal configuration. MongoDB Atlas can also be scaled easily, but the open-source version requires more planning and management.
  • AWS Integration: If you need tight integration with other AWS services and do not plan to change your deployment environment, DynamoDB is the best choice. Otherwise, MongoDB Atlas is a better choice since it can be deployed on many cloud providers, including AWS and Google Cloud.
  • Development Team Expertise: Consider your team’s familiarity with the database technology. The learning curve can impact development speed and maintenance.
  • Latency and Throughput Needs: If your application demands extremely low-latency responses and high throughput, DynamoDB’s single-digit millisecond response times is beneficial.
  • Cost: MongoDB Community Edition is free and open-source, making it a cost-effective option for self-managed deployments.
  • Global Distribution: Multi-region replication makes DynamoDB a solid choice for applications requiring data to be available across different geographical regions.

DynamoDB, MongoDB, and Airbyte: The Integration Paradigm

A database system is only one part of an efficient data ecosystem. Integration is another vital aspect. Data integration enables organizations to get a unified view of all their data and get accurate insights.

This is where Airbye comes in. Airbyte is a leading open-source data integration platform that facilitates seamless data transfer from source systems to NoSQL databases like MongoDB and DynamoDB. It also streamlines data movement between different database systems and other applications.

The platform has 350+ built-in connectors to build no-code data pipelines quickly. You can also cater to unique cases by creating custom connectors in minutes. 

Airbyte provides four main benefits:

  • Centralized Data: Integration with Airbyte allows you to centralize data from multiple sources, including DynamoDB and MongoDB, making it easier to analyze and gain insights.
  • Ecosystem Flexibility: Airbyte’s extensive list of connectors lets you integrate data from various sources beyond just databases, enhancing your data landscape.
  • Automation: Automate data extraction, transformation, and loading processes using Airbyte’s scheduling and orchestration features.
  • Real-time Insights: Using Airbyte, you can create a hybrid data management approach, utilizing MongoDB’s real-time capabilities for in-depth analysis while incorporating historical data from DynamoDB.


Amazon DynamoDB and MongoDB are powerful NoSQL databases with the flexibility to cater to an organization’s diverse use cases.

DynamoDB is a managed database with low-latency access, ideal for predictable workloads. MongoDB’s flexibility and complex querying make it suitable for evolving data structures.

Ultimately, the choice between the two NoSQL databases should align with your application’s unique demands. Thoroughly evaluate both options and conduct testing or prototyping if needed to ensure the database technology can lead to your project’s success.

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