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Azure SignalR Service vs PubNub

Discover how Azure SignalR Service 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 Azure SignalR Service?

Azure-hosted, fully managed realtime framework built on top of an open-source software library for Microsoft ASP.NET. It allows server code to send asynchronous notifications to client-side web applications. The library includes server-side and client-side JavaScript components.

Suitable for:

  • Live chat
  • Data broadcast (stock tickers, live dashboards)
  • Multiplayer collaboration

Not suitable for:

  • Mission-critical scenarios that require data integrity guarantees

Pros:

  • Fully managed service
  • Global reach
  • Seamlessly integrates with other Azure services
  • Built-in support for authentication and authorization
  • Monitoring & diagnostics capabilities

Cons:

  • Not reliable at scale or spikes
  • Must choose one data center to locate apps
  • Message latencies increase for clients further away from datacenter
  • No message delivery guarantees

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 Azure SignalR Service and PubNub

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 If you do find anything incorrect or out of date, then please contact us.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

Azure SignalR Service

Partial

Azure SignalR does not provide pub/sub capabilities by itself but you can use it in combination with backplanes such as Redis or Event Grid, which support the pub/sub model.

PubNub

Yes

Chat capabilities

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

Azure SignalR Service

No

Documentation references chat, but it is not clear how you would deliver it. There's no native chat capability.

Collaboration capabilities

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

Azure SignalR Service

No

An article on-site showcases a solution idea for collaboration, but not using SignalR.

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.

Azure SignalR Service

No

PubNub

Yes

Presence

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

Azure SignalR Service

Yes

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.

Azure SignalR Service

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.

Azure SignalR Service

No

PubNub

Yes

Message history

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

Azure SignalR Service

No

PubNub

Yes

Push notifications

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

Azure SignalR Service

No

PubNub

Yes

Message delta compression

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

Azure SignalR Service

No

PubNub

No

Programmatic management

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

Azure SignalR Service

Yes

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.

Azure SignalR Service

Yes

Offers 20 concurrent connections and 20,000 messages per day

Read more
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.

Azure SignalR Service
  • Free, standard and premium tiers
  • Availability zone support, fully managed auto scaling and customised domain name only available in premium tier
  • No SLA for free tier - 99.9% for standard tier, 99.95% for premium tier
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.

Azure SignalR Service
  • .NET
  • Java
  • JavaScript
  • Python
  • Flutter
  • REST API (any language that supports HTTP requests)
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.

Azure SignalR Service
  • WebSockets
  • HTTP
  • SSE
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.

Azure SignalR Service
  • Microsoft Azure Functions
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.

Azure SignalR Service

No

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.

Azure SignalR Service

Yes

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.

Azure SignalR Service

While Azure SignalR itself doesn't have specific integration points in CI/CD tools, the broader Azure ecosystem and the Azure CLI or PowerShell can be leveraged in your CI/CD scripts to manage Azure SignalR resources.

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.

Azure SignalR Service

No metrics available

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.

Azure SignalR Service

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.

Azure SignalR Service

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.

Azure SignalR Service

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.

Azure SignalR Service
  • On the free tier there is no SLA
  • Standard tier: 99.9% uptime SLA
  • Premium tier: 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.

Azure SignalR Service

Yes

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.

Azure SignalR Service

Yes

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.

Azure SignalR Service

No

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.

Azure SignalR Service

Unknown

PubNub

<100 milliseconds delivery

Security & compliance
API key authentication

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

Azure SignalR Service

Yes

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.

Azure SignalR Service

Yes

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.

Azure SignalR Service

Yes

PubNub

Yes

Google and SSO

Rules for permissions and operations

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

Azure SignalR Service

Yes

End-to-end encryption

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

Azure SignalR Service

Yes

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.

Azure SignalR Service

Yes

PubNub

Yes

Compliance

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

Azure SignalR Service
  • SOC 2 Type I
  • SOC 2 Type II
  • HIPAA
  • EU GDPR
PubNub
  • HIPAA compliant
  • GDPR compliant
  • SOC2 type 2 compliant
  • CCPA compliant

Alternatives to Azure SignalR Service and PubNub

Whilst both Azure SignalR Service and PubNub are worth considering as options for realtime experiences, they aren’t without their limitations. We suggest evaluating them against the following alternatives to make sure you find the right solution for your needs.

Alternatives to Azure SignalR Service

PubNub is a developer API platform that powers the realtime infrastructure in apps to build engaging Virtual Spaces where online communities can connect.

Socket.IO is a library that provides realtime, bi-directional communication between clients and servers. It allows the management of connections, sending and receiving messages, and more.

Pusher is a first-generation pub/sub messaging service that provides bi-directional hosted APIs for adding realtime features to applications.

Alternatives to PubNub

Socket.IO is a library that provides realtime, bi-directional communication between clients and servers. It allows the management of connections, sending and receiving messages, and more.

Pusher is a first-generation pub/sub messaging service that provides bi-directional hosted APIs for adding realtime features to applications.

Ably is the definitive realtime experience platform of the internet. Serving more WebSocket connections than any other pub/sub platform on earth. Businesses trust us to power their critical applications - reliably, securely and at serious scale.

Discover how Azure SignalR Service and PubNub stack up against Ably

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

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