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AWS AppSync vs PubNub

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

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.

Suitable for:

  • Chat rooms
  • Collaborative apps
  • Data broadcasting
  • IoT apps
  • Apps requiring low latency

Not suitable for:

  • Where you need to use custom directives
  • Service quotas
  • Large-scale/complex projects

Pros:

  • Managed GraphQL service & pub/sub over WebSocket APIs
  • Backend management
  • Connection recovery
  • AWS service integration

Cons:

  • Complex, especially the templating engine (VTL)
  • High cost - may be more expensive than alternatives
  • Limited plug-ins
  • Single region solution

What is PubNub?

PubNub is a developer API platform that powers the real-time infrastructure in apps to build engaging Virtual Spaces where online communities can connect. It can serve as the foundation for online chat, live events, geolocation, remote IoT control, and realtime updates.

Suitable for:

  • Chat
  • Live audience engagement
  • Multi-user collaboration
  • Device control
  • Data streaming
  • Geolocation /dispatch

Not suitable for:

  • Audio and video

Pros:

  • Highly scalable
  • Global edge network

Cons:

  • No message delivery guarantees
  • No message ordering guarantees
  • No exactly-once delivery guarantees
  • No WebSockets support
  • Reduced message continuity when clients are disconnected

Compare AWS AppSync and PubNub

Let’s compare AWS AppSync and PubNub, 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 AWS AppSync and PubNub. The content was last updated on 10 Jun 2024 for AWS AppSync and on 10 Jun 2024 for PubNub. 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 If you do find anything incorrect or out of date, then please contact us.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.

AWS AppSync
PubNub

Yes

Chat capabilities

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

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.

AWS AppSync

Partial

AWS AppSync provides the primitives to build basic collaborative experiences.

See example
PubNub

Partial

Via Presence, no dedicated SDK to make it easier.

State sync capabilities

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

AWS AppSync

Partial

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

PubNub

Yes

Presence

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

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.

PubNub

Yes

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.

AWS AppSync

No

PubNub

Yes

Via presence.

See Presence docs
Message interactions

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

AWS AppSync

No

PubNub

Yes

Message history

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

AWS AppSync

Partial

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

see source
PubNub

Yes

Push notifications

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

AWS AppSync
PubNub

Yes

Message delta compression

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

AWS AppSync
PubNub

No

Programmatic management

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

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).

PubNub

No

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.

AWS AppSync

Yes

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

PubNub

Yes

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.

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
PubNub

Various packages including free, starter and pro. They also have different support packages which includes enterprise.

See Pricing page
Integrations & interoperability
SDKs

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

AWS AppSync
  • iOS
  • Android
  • JavaScript
See source
PubNub
  • REST API
  • Asyncio
  • C-Core
  • C-Sharp
  • Cocoa Objective-C
  • Cocoa Swift
  • Dart
  • FreeRTOS
  • Go
  • Java
  • JavaScript
  • Kotlin
  • Lua
  • Mbed
  • MQTT
  • Objective-C
  • PHP
  • POSIX C
  • POSIX C++
  • Python
  • React
  • Redux
  • Ruby
  • Rust
  • Swift
  • Unity
  • Windows C
  • Windows C++

Source: SDKs

Supported realtime protocols

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

AWS AppSync
  • WebSockets
PubNub
  • HTTP
  • MQTT
  • Fallback to Comet (XHR) and Long Polling for older browsers

PubNub uses HTTP as the transport for their client libraries. A WebSocket compliant interface is provided in some libraries, however this is just a wrapper around an underlying HTTP transport.

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.

AWS AppSync
  • AWS Lambda
PubNub
  • PubNubFunctions - proprietary functions

PubNub allows you to run code on its own platform using proprietary PubNub Functions in the form of “Blocks”. The code you can run in Blocks is limited to the Javascript API available in PubNub’s system.

Streaming & queueing

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

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)
PubNub

Egress:

  • AWS Kinesis
  • AWS SQS
  • Apache Pulsar
  • RabbitMQ
  • AMQP
  • Kafka

Ingress:

  • Kafka
Observability services

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

AWS AppSync

Partial

Through AWS X-Ray native integration.

Read more
PubNub

Yes

PubNub provides integrations with Datadog and NewRelic

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.

AWS AppSync

No

PubNub

PubNub provides a Command Line Interface (CLI) specifically for managing and deploying PubNub Functions.

Quality of Service
Scalability

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

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.

PubNub
  • 2 trillion monthly transactions
  • 800 million device connections monthly
  • Under 100 milliseconds delivery
  • 99.999% reliability

Source: Edge messaging solutions page

Guaranteed message delivery

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

AWS AppSync

No

PubNub

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.

AWS AppSync

No

PubNub

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.

AWS AppSync

No

PubNub

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.

AWS AppSync

99.95 uptime SLA

PubNub

99.999%

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.

AWS AppSync

No

PubNub

Yes

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.

AWS AppSync

Partial

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

PubNub

Yes

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.

AWS AppSync

Partial

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

PubNub

Yes

Latency

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

AWS AppSync

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

PubNub

<100 milliseconds delivery

Security & compliance
API key authentication

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

AWS AppSync
PubNub

No

PubNub does not provide configurable private key permissions. It uses a different model where each client’s access is configured with the PubNub Access Manager (PAM).

Token-based authentication

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

AWS AppSync

Yes

JWT via Amazon Cognito User Pools.

See how it works
PubNub

Yes

Single Sign-On (SSO) authentication

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

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
PubNub

Yes

Google and SSO

Rules for permissions and operations

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

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.

AWS AppSync

Yes

TLS1.2 supported; TLS1.3 recommended.

Read more
PubNub

Yes

All customer data stored within PubNub is encrypted in transit over public networks using TLS 1.2+. Customer data stored in PubNub cloud products and services is AES-256 encrypted at rest.

Encryption at rest

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

AWS AppSync

Yes

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

Read more
PubNub

Yes

Compliance

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

AWS AppSync
  • SOC
  • PCI
  • HIPAA/HIPAA BAA
  • IRAP
  • C5
  • ENS High
  • OSPAR
  • HITRUST CSF programs
PubNub
  • HIPAA compliant
  • GDPR compliant
  • SOC2 type 2 compliant
  • CCPA compliant

Discover how AWS AppSync and PubNub stack up against Ably

Ably is the definitive realtime experience platform of the internet. See how we compare to AWS AppSync and PubNub on key dimensions such as core features, pricing, integrations, QoS, performance, and security and compliance.

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