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Microsoft Azure Web PubSub vs PubNub

Discover how Microsoft Azure Web PubSub 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 Microsoft Azure Web PubSub?

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub is a fully managed service for real-time messaging using WebSockets and the publish-subscribe pattern. It handles up to 100,000 concurrent connections, managing scaling, encryption, and authentication. It's ideal for live broadcasts, IoT dashboards, and integrates with Azure functions. It provides APIs for managing clients and messaging.

Suitable for:

  • Messaging
  • Chat
  • Dashboards
  • Multiplayer games

Not suitable for:

  • Apps that need message queues
  • Apps that need presence
  • Apps that need message history
  • Integration with non Azure Serverless platforms

Pros:

  • Part of the Azure ecosystem
  • Many resources, since it's provided by Microsoft
  • Key focus on security, with many compliance certifications
  • Large customer base

Cons:

  • No self-hosting option
  • Fewer supported languages with libraries
  • Fewer integrations
  • Uptime SLAs are not the best available (99.9% for free/standard and 99.95% for Premium vs Ably's 99.999%)

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 Microsoft Azure Web PubSub and PubNub

Let’s compare Microsoft Azure Web PubSub 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 Microsoft Azure Web PubSub and PubNub. The content was last updated on 11 Jul 2024 for Microsoft Azure Web PubSub and on 21 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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

Yes

Pub/sub messaging is the core functionality of Microsoft Azure Web PubSub.

Read more
PubNub

Yes

Chat capabilities

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

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

No

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub and its SDKs do not have this functionality out of the box. It is possible to build a chat application, but you would need to build the functionality yourself.

Read more
Collaboration capabilities

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

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

No

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub and its SDKs do not have this functionality out of the box. It is possible to build out collaboration functionality, but you would need to do it yourself.

Read more
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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

Partial

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub doesn't offer presence out of the box, but can support presence when integrated with Microsoft Hubs and Groups.

Read more
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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

No

PubNub

Yes

Message history

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

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

No

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub has no native push notification functionality. Microsoft has a separate service for this - Azure Notification Hubs.

Read more
PubNub

Yes

Message delta compression

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

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

Yes

There are multiple ways to configure Azure programatically; two of the most popular are Terraform and Azure Bicep.

Read more
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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

Yes

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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub
  • Free
  • Standard
  • Premium
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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub
  • JavaScript
  • C#
  • Python
  • Java
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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub
  • HTTP
  • WebSockets
  • Webhooks
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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub
  • 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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

No

Azure Web PubSub is not used for steaming and queuing. Other Azure services are available for these:

  • Queueing: Azure Service Bus & Azure Queues
  • Streaming: Azure Event Hubs
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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

Azure offers different unit sizes to meet customer requirements. Metrics on performance are provided by the Azure platform for rightsizing resource requirements.

Read more
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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

Partial

Only available with Reliable JSON Websocket or Protobuf subprotocols.

Read more
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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

Partial

Only available with Reliable JSON Websocket or Protobuf subprotocols.

Read more
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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub
  • Free/standard: 99.9%
  • Premium: 99.95%
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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

Yes

It is possible to set up multi-region primary/secondary resources with geo-replication.

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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

Partial

Depends on architecture. It is possible to deploy to multiple regions with failover, and each region uses Availability Zones.

Read more
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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

Unknown.

PubNub

<100 milliseconds delivery

Security & compliance
API key authentication

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

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

Yes

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub supports JWT and ephemeral tokens.

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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

Yes

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub supports Microsoft Entra ID.

PubNub

Yes

Google and SSO

Rules for permissions and operations

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

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

Yes

Supported through Azure RBAC.

End-to-end encryption

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

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

Yes

Data in transit encryption is enabled by default.

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.

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

No

PubNub

Yes

Compliance

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

Microsoft Azure Web PubSub
  • SOC1
  • SOC2
  • SOC3
  • GDPR
  • There are many more certifications listed here.
PubNub
  • HIPAA compliant
  • GDPR compliant
  • SOC2 type 2 compliant
  • CCPA compliant

Alternatives to Microsoft Azure Web PubSub and PubNub

Whilst both Microsoft Azure Web PubSub 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 Microsoft Azure Web PubSub

Azure SignalR is an Azure-hosted, fully managed realtime framework built on top of an open-source software library for Microsoft ASP.NET.

Amazon SNS is an AWS service for designed to distribute notifications from applications to subscribers via SMS, email, etc.

Google Cloud Pub/Sub is a scalable messaging service that can be used to send and receive messages from applications or services.

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 Microsoft Azure Web PubSub and PubNub stack up against Ably

Ably is the definitive realtime experience platform of the internet. See how we compare to Microsoft Azure Web PubSub 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