Performance Testing: Self-built Databases vs. ApsaraDB for RDS

Abstract: Poorly configured ApsaraDB instances may appear to underperform compared with self-built databases. This article discusses how to troubleshoot this problem in your databases.

Recent comparisons of self-built databases with RDS show that self-built databases tend to have higher query speeds than those seen on RDS instances. Take a logistics company for example. At the very beginning, the ApsaraDB for RDS SQL server database accesses the RDS instance via ECS and executes a statement which takes about 60s, however the RDS SQL server database accesses the local self-built databases on the ECS in only 2–3s. So, is ApsaraDB RDS really worse than self-built databases? Next, we will discuss the key points for comparing self-built databases with RDS and how to compare their performances fairly.

The following factors should be taken into account when comparing the statement execution performance between self-built databases and RDS:

1. Zones and Network Connections

Please refer to Performance testing: note-worthy observations in self-built databases v.s. RDS (article in Chinese) for a deep analysis of zones and network connections. If network factors need to be verified, a profiler can be enabled in RDS, a network packet captured in the client, and the execution termination time in the RDS compared with the resulting return time in the network packet. A bigger time difference indicates slower network transmission speeds.

For an RDS SQL Server 2012 instance, the SQL Server Profiler can be enabled to capture events such as RPC:Completed, SQL:StmtStarting, SQL:StmtCompleted, SQL:BatchStarting, and SQL:BatchCompleted.

The SQL Server Profiler cannot currently be enabled for RDS SQL Server 2008 R2 instances, however the following statement can query the start_time and total_elapsed_time for recently executed statements. total_elapased_time represents the total time required to execute the statement after it reaches the SQL Server (the unit is ms).

2. Instance Parameter Configuration

A large variety of parameters need to be taken into account for a MySQL instance. Please refer to Performance testing: note-worthy observations in self-built databases v.s. RDS (article in Chinese) for detailed analysis and descriptions.
The main parameters that need to be taken into account include fill factor (%), max degree of parallelism, and max server memory (MB).
• Fill Factor (%): A server-side parameter for optimizing data storage and performance. When an index is created or re-created, this value is used to determine the percentage of data space to be filled on each leaf page to reserve room for expanding the index.
• Max Degree of Parallelism (MaxDOP): Limits the number of processors used when a parallel plan is executed, i.e., limiting the degree of parallelism (DOP) of a statement.
• Max Server Memory (MB): Sets an upper limit for memory obtained by a buffer pool.

3. Resource Waiting or Blocking

Comparisons must be made between the two environments to determine if waiting and blocking is occurring during execution of the statement. View information on waiting:

Refer to Solutions to blocking of RDS for SQL Server (article in Chinese) for blocking.

4. Whether the index fragmentation rate and statistical information are consistent across the two environments

Follow the below guidelines when checking the index fragment rate of a statement:

A high index fragmentation rate can negatively affect query speed. If the index fragmentation rate is between 5% and 30%, it is recommended to restructure the index. If the index fragmentation rate is greater than 30%, the index should be rebuilt.

Refer to the following statement for checking statistical information:

If the statistical information in the RDS is older than that in the self-built database, it can then be updated manually, thereby preventing the SQL Server from generating incorrect and inefficient implementation plans based on obsolete statistical information.

5. High Availability Architecture

As a public relational database service, RDS must first be stable, highly available, secure, and capable of delivering secure and stable services for users. The second point is high performance.
RDS SQL Server uses High Safety synchronization to guarantee consistency between the master and slave data. This mode sacrifices some performance compared to High Performance mode, but availability is highly improved and data is thoroughly protected.
Meanwhile, RDS also provides multi-available zone master and slave instances. Dual nodes are located in different machine rooms, thereby further guaranteeing high availability and security.


  1. The RDS instance has more memory than that of the local server.
  2. Network latency is low.
  3. The MAXDOP value of the RDS is 2, and the MAXDOP value for the self-built ECS instance is default, i.e., the parallel statement can be applied to manage as many parallel threads as possible.
    It can be seen from the implementation plan that the DOP for a query statement in RDS is 2, while the DOP for a query statement in the self-built database is 8, meaning that execution on RDS is slower than on the self-built database.


  1. As can be seen above, the RDS configuration is actually higher than that of the self-built database, therefore the MaxDOP value in the parameter settings of the RDS instance can be increased to improve the DOP.
    2.A user table is found by the implementation plan to be missing an index. After adding the missing index to RDS, the query performance is significantly improved. Even though the DOP is 2, execution can be completed in 5s.


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