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Ably vs AWS AppSync

Discover how AWS AppSync compares to Ably, and understand which is right for your use case, based on dimensions such as core features, pricing, reliability, and scalability.

What is Ably?

Ably is a realtime experience platform that provides APIs and SDKs to power realtime functionality - with no realtime infrastructure to build and maintain. Our application building blocks and integrations enable developers to quickly create live experiences from live chat and data broadcast, to collaborative UXs and notifications.


What is AWS AppSync?

AWS AppSync is a fully managed service designed to streamline the process of building and deploying serverless GraphQL and pub/sub over WebSocket APIs. It enables developers to seamlessly handle and synchronize mobile app data in realtime across devices and users. Even when a mobile device is offline, AppSync permits data access and modification.

Compare Ably and AWS AppSync

Let’s compare Ably and AWS AppSync, looking at key dimensions such as their core features, pricing, integrations, QoS, performance, and security and compliance.

Disclaimer:This comparison was created based on documentation and resources freely available online about Ably and AWS AppSync. The content was last updated on 10 Jun 2024 for Ably and on 10 Jun 2024 for AWS AppSync. Be sure to double-check everything before you make any decisions. If you do find anything incorrect or out of date, then please contact us.

Core features
Pub/Sub messaging

Reduces communication code complexity, simplifying the process of building highly functional and architecturally complex realtime apps.

Ably

Yes

Ably provides robust pub/sub messaging capabilities over serverless WebSockets.

AWS AppSync
Chat capabilities

Accelerates the time to implement rich chat experiences with features such as read receipts, typing indicators, and more.

Ably

Partial

It's possible to use Ably Pub/Sub to build chat applications today, as many customers do. A new product to make this seamless, idiomatic and help accelerate time-to-market is under active development.

AWS AppSync

Partial

AWS AppSync can be used with other AWS products to build a chat product.

Find out how
Collaboration capabilities

Enables you to quickly integrate realtime collaborative features like live cursors, member location, avatar stacks, and component locking.

Ably

Yes

The Spaces SDK provides an opinionated set of abstractions for collaborative environments including live cursors, avatar stacks and component locking.

Learn more
AWS AppSync

Partial

AWS AppSync provides the primitives to build basic collaborative experiences.

See example
State sync capabilities

Enables realtime data synchronization across devices and users, ensuring a cohesive and up-to-date user experience.

Ably

Yes

Ably provides a self-hostable and managed database connector to stream updates over our serverless WebSocket platform. Ably also provides the Models SDK for seamless connector interactions.

Learn more
AWS AppSync

Partial

Can be built on top of AppSync, but not available out of the box.

Presence

Maintaining a view of which users are connected, and their associated metadata, enables their online status to be updated in realtime.

Ably

Yes

AWS AppSync

Partial

"AWS AppSync does not provide events related to client connections or disconnections" (see source) - but it can be built on top of it by composing multiple AWS products.

Occupancy

High-level metrics about the clients currently connected to a channel make it simple to show things such as connected user count, or display which channels are the most popular.

Ably

Yes

AWS AppSync

No

Message interactions

Enables interaction with previously-sent messages, facilitating the implementation of features like message reactions and threads.

Ably

Partial

Message interactions are natively supported in ably-js. There is not currently any API support for retrieving messages and their interactions efficiently from the Realtime service (under development).

Learn more
AWS AppSync

No

Message history

Enables clients to catch up on missed messages when inactive, ensuring a user doesn’t miss any important messages.

Ably

Yes

AWS AppSync

Partial

Looks like you can get message history, but only in combination with other AWS services

see source
Push notifications

Cross-platform push notifications make it possible to deliver important and timely messages to users even when they’re inactive.

Ably

Yes

Support for Android and iOS push notifications. Improved web-push for browsers currently in progress.

AWS AppSync
Message delta compression

Minimizes bandwidth and can reduce latency, particularly in scenarios where continuous updates are sent.

Ably

Yes

Broadcast changes efficiently with our binary deltas, reducing bandwidth consumption by typically up to 95%.

AWS AppSync
Programmatic management

Enables the automation of provisioning, management, and testing of service resources, simplifying integration with existing development workflows such as CI.

Ably

Yes

AWS AppSync

Yes

You can perform programmatic management using the AWS SDKs (Software Development Kits), AWS Command Line Interface (CLI), or infrastructure-as-code tools like AWS CloudFormation or AWS CDK (Cloud Development Kit).

Pricing
Free plan

With a free plan, you can test the service’s functionality and compatibility with your project before committing to a paid plan.

Ably

Yes

AWS AppSync

Yes

250,000 API requests free per month for 12 months with the AWS Free Tier.

Pricing model

The pricing model should align with your project's expected load, usage patterns, and budget in order to be cost-effective and efficient.

Ably
  • Free tier
  • Pay as you go
  • Enterprise with committed use
Learn more
AWS AppSync

You pay only for what you use with no minimum fees or mandatory service usage. You are billed separately for query and data modification operations, and for performing realtime updates on your data.

Read more
Integrations & interoperability
SDKs

Supporting multiple languages and platforms offers greater flexibility when building cross-platform realtime apps.

Ably
  • Java
  • Javascript (browsers)
  • React Native
  • React Hooks
  • Android
  • Clojure
  • Cordova / Phonegap
  • Flutter
  • Go
  • iOS Objective-C
  • iOS Swift
  • Kotlin
  • Laravel (PHP)
  • MacOS
  • Mono
  • NativeScript
  • .NET
  • Node.js
  • PHP (REST only)
  • Scala
  • Python
  • Ruby (REST only)
  • tvOS
  • Unity
  • Xamarin + Xamarin.forms
AWS AppSync
  • iOS
  • Android
  • JavaScript
See source
Supported realtime protocols

Support for multiple protocols provides the flexibility to choose a protocol that best suits your project’s requirements.

Ably
  • WebSockets
  • MQTT
  • Server-Sent Events (SSE)
  • Fallback to Comet (XHR) and Long Polling for older browsers
AWS AppSync
  • WebSockets
Serverless functions

Enables integration with third-party cloud providers by facilitating the execution of custom code against messages to perform business logic like on-the-fly translation.

Ably
  • AWS Lambda
  • Microsoft Azure Functions
  • Cloudflare Workers
  • Google Cloud Functions
AWS AppSync
  • AWS Lambda
Streaming & queueing

Provides a dependable method to reroute messages from the service to third-party streams and queues for further processing.

Ably

Egress:

  • Kafka
  • Kinesis
  • AMQP
  • SQS
  • Pulsar
  • Ably-hosted queues

Ingress:

  • Kafka Connector
  • Postgress (via Database Connector)

The Database Connector is designed for any database in the SQL-family, but at the moment only supports Postgres. Please contact us if you want support in other databases.

AWS AppSync

AWS AppSync doesn't directly integrate with streaming and queuing services for data ingress and egress, but you can use the following AWS services alongside AppSync to build scalable and event-driven architectures for your applications:

Ingress:

  • Amazon Kinesis Data Streams
  • Amazon SQS (Simple Queue Service)

Egress:

  • AWS Lambda
  • Amazon SNS (Simple Notification Service)
Observability services

Enables realtime monitoring and troubleshooting by offering insights into service behavior directly in your observability platform of choice.

Ably

Yes

AWS AppSync

Partial

Through AWS X-Ray native integration.

Read more
CI/CD tools

Makes it possible to provision and configure service infrastructure as part of a CI or CD pipeline, enabling repeatable and reliable deployments.

Ably
  • Terraform
  • Control API + SDKs
AWS AppSync

No

Quality of Service
Scalability

Scalability is vital as it ensures the service can handle increased data load or users without compromising performance.

Ably
  • Ably provides unlimited throughput capacity at a system-level.
  • Advertised as 200 message/sec/channel or 13MiB/sec/channel.
  • Limitless "channel churn rate" (activate/ deactivate as many channels as you need, as fast as you need. In theory, you can activate 1M channels/ second.
AWS AppSync

No published metrics are available. However, this works on top of serverless technology which means theoretically it should scale to millions of concurrent connection with little to no tuning from the customer.

Guaranteed message delivery

Ensures messages are never lost during transmission, even in the presence of network disruptions.

Ably

Yes

AWS AppSync

No

Guaranteed message ordering

Maintains the sequence of messages as they were sent. This is particularly important in apps where the chronological order of messages is essential for meaningful communication.

Ably

Yes

AWS AppSync

No

Exactly-once message delivery

Guarantees that each message is processed exactly once, preventing data inconsistencies that can arise from duplicate processing or missing messages.

Ably

Yes

AWS AppSync

No

Performance & availability
Uptime Guarantee

An uptime guarantee instills confidence in the reliability of the service and protects your business from the negative impacts of downtime.

Ably

99.999%

AWS AppSync

99.95 uptime SLA

Global edge network

By bringing servers (Points of Presence, or PoP) geographically closer to the devices of end users, and routing requests to the nearest PoP, global latency is reduced to a minimum.

Ably

Yes

All Ably customer data runs across all our 7 geographically-distributed core routing datacenters by default. Ably's network of 385 edge acceleration points-of-presence is growing day by day.

AWS AppSync

No

Multi-region data replication (message durability)

By replicating data across multiple regions, the risk of data loss or downtime is greatly mitigated since if data is lost or a server fails in one region, the information can be retrieved from another.

Ably

Yes

AWS AppSync

Partial

Single region by default - multi region deployment of AWS AppSync would require integration of Amazon DynamoDB Global Tables.

No single point of failure or congestion

Having no single point of failure means a system is resilient and can continue to operate even if one part fails. Avoiding a single point of congestion ensures messages flow efficiently across the system and avoids bottlenecks that could lead to performance issues under load.

Ably

Yes

AWS AppSync

Partial

Not available by default - but could be built with the integration of Amazon DynamoDB Global Tables.

Latency

Low latency is crucial for realtime apps as it ensures swift and efficient data transmissions, providing a smoother and more responsive user experience.

Ably

<65ms round trip latency for the 99th percentile; <35ms latency once traffic arrives within AWS

AWS AppSync

Unknown, although reports in forums suggest it is 200-500 ms.

Security & compliance
API key authentication

Simplifies the authentication code on trusted servers compared to requesting, managing, and refreshing tokens.

Ably

Yes

AWS AppSync
Token-based authentication

Provides a means to securely authenticate user devices against your user management system.

Ably

Yes

AWS AppSync

Yes

JWT via Amazon Cognito User Pools.

See how it works
Single Sign-On (SSO) authentication

SSO streamlines login processes, boosts security by minimizing password use, and meets compliance needs for secure data access management.

Ably

Yes

AWS AppSync

Yes

Can set up auth with AWS IAM, and AWS IAM can be configured with any identity source (e.g. Okta).

Learn more
Rules for permissions and operations

Provides control over which users can subscribe and publish to certain channels.

Ably

Yes

AWS AppSync
End-to-end encryption

Ensures that the data transmitted between the client and the API server remains confidential and secure while in transit.

Ably

Yes

Ably offers SSL/TLS encryption and 256-bit AES encryption using private keys. Message payloads can only be decrypted by other clients that share your secret key.

Learn more about Ably's encryption
AWS AppSync

Yes

TLS1.2 supported; TLS1.3 recommended.

Read more
Encryption at rest

Ensures data stored by the service is secure and compliant, while also mitigating the risks of a data breach.

Ably

Yes

AWS AppSync

Yes

Done using AWS Key Management Service keys. This ensures that data in services like AppSync is securely encrypted.

Read more
Compliance

Compliance with regulations can impact your ability to meet legal obligations in your industry.

Ably
  • SOC 2 certified
  • HIPAA compliant
  • EU GDPR compliant

Ably also offers EU and US-only data storage.

AWS AppSync
  • SOC
  • PCI
  • HIPAA/HIPAA BAA
  • IRAP
  • C5
  • ENS High
  • OSPAR
  • HITRUST CSF programs
AblyHear from companies gaining their realtime advantage with Ably

The core infrastructure for delivering live sports data to our customers is Ably. We sleep easier at night knowing it can be relied on for consistent low latency and message integrity at scale.

Gary Williams

Gary Williams

IT Infrastructure Team Lead

Genius Sports
Read case study

Ably immediately solved our issues around the user experience and scale. It supports our customers’ stringent expectations as well as future product development.

Max Freiert

Max Freiert

Product Group Lead

Hubspot
Read case study

Ably copes easily with big loads. We don’t have to worry about stability, even when we get huge traffic spikes.

Johan Bengtsson

Johan Bengtsson

CTO

Mentimeter
Read case study

Try Ably for free to discover the benefits for yourself

Ably has built reliable realtime infrastructure so you don’t have to. On our free plan you benefit from:

  • 6M Monthly messages
  • 200 concurrent channels
  • 200 concurrent connections