Self-Managed vs Managed SQL Services: A Comparative Study of AWS and GCP


In the era of digital transformation, databases have become the backbone of businesses. They are the repositories that store and manage an organization’s critical data. Today, we will delve into the world of cloud databases, specifically focusing on self-managed relational databases and SQL managed services provided by two major cloud providers: Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

Self-Managed Databases

Self-managed databases are exactly what they sound like. They are databases that you set up and manage yourself. Cloud providers like AWS and GCP provide the infrastructure, such as virtual machines, where you can install and run your database. This approach gives you complete control over your database, including the choice of the database engine, configuration, optimization, and security settings. However, with great power comes great responsibility. Managing a database can be a complex task that requires a deep understanding of the database engine and the ability to troubleshoot and optimize performance.

At Aigenexpert, if a client chooses this route, there are two options:

  1. For bare-metal installation, we use Terraform for the provision of cloud resources, including the database data volumes and its replicas, database servers and their replica servers, setting up network, VPN, subnets, security group, firewall, NAT. Some companies choose this option because they need full control and all the power to modify the servers and data. But at the same time, they need to do all manual work such as backups, security patching, updating, and scaling by themselves.
  2. For more advanced self-managed installation, we use Kubernetes with Helm charts for the provisioning of database clusters, sharded database clusters. The benefits of this option are the auto-healing of DB servers after crashes, monitoring, scalability, and resiliency. The cons are that it requires a higher level of engineering expertise, a specialized skill set, and a bit higher costs.

Managed SQL Services

On the other hand, managed SQL services are a godsend for teams that want to focus on building applications rather than managing databases. These services take care of the heavy lifting of database management tasks such as backups, patching, and scaling. They also offer high availability and durability, with deployments across multiple availability zones.

At Aigenexpert, we recommend all companies start with AWS RDS or GCP SQL, and/or transition to self-managed later if there is a need to do so; unless they already have an existing self-managed deployment somewhere and want to continue it that way on AWS/GCP, or they might find the costs of RDS or GCP SQL too prohibitive.

AWS Managed SQL Services

Amazon RDS is AWS’s flagship managed SQL service. It simplifies the setup, operation, and scaling of databases in the cloud. Amazon RDS supports a variety of database engines, including Amazon Aurora, PostgreSQL, MySQL, MariaDB, Oracle, and SQL Server, giving you the flexibility to choose the right engine for your application.

GCP Managed SQL Services

Google Cloud SQL is GCP’s fully managed relational database service. It supports MySQL, PostgreSQL, and SQL Server. Cloud SQL is trusted by more than 95% of Google Cloud’s top 100 customers, which speaks volumes about its reliability and performance.


When comparing self-managed databases with managed SQL services, several factors come into play. Cost is a major consideration. While self-managed databases might seem cheaper at first glance, you need to factor in the cost of the manpower required to manage the database. Performance is another crucial factor. Managed SQL services like Amazon RDS and Google Cloud SQL are designed to deliver fast, consistent performance. They also offer scalability options to handle increasing database workloads. Security is a top priority for businesses, and managed SQL services provide several security features to protect your data.


In conclusion, the choice between self-managed databases and managed SQL services depends on your specific needs and resources. If you have the expertise and resources to manage your own database, a self-managed database could be a good fit. However, if you prefer to focus on your core business and leave the database management to the experts, managed SQL services like Amazon RDS and Google Cloud SQL would be the way to go.

If you need a team to manage all of these complexities for you, contact us today.

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