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Athena vs. Glue: Which Amazon Product Should You Choose?

Serverless technology is all the rage these days for many reasons. At the top of the list is cost-effectiveness. Since any company that adopts serverless no longer has to worry about building and managing costly infrastructure, that money can be used for more important things, such as building and deploying more robust and feature-rich applications. [...]

BairesDev Editorial Team

By BairesDev Editorial Team

BairesDev is the leading nearshore technology solutions company with 4,000+ professionals in 50+ countries representing the top 1% of tech talent.

10 min read

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Serverless technology is all the rage these days for many reasons. At the top of the list is cost-effectiveness. Since any company that adopts serverless no longer has to worry about building and managing costly infrastructure, that money can be used for more important things, such as building and deploying more robust and feature-rich applications.

For those that have yet to run into the serverless concept, the name can be a bit confusing. There are servers involved, but they tend to be virtual machines run on cloud-hosted infrastructure. So the idea is that you aren’t in charge of the servers, someone else is. Ergo, your company can run all your apps and servers without having a single server in your building. 

Hence, serverless.

Now, there are all types of services that run on serverless environments, and all the big players offer serverless deployments. From AWS to Google to Azure, you’ll find serverless a part of just about everything.

Now that you understand the basic concept of serverless, you might want to know about some of the technology that runs on serverless environments. Let’s take a look at 2 particular tools, both of which run on Amazon AWS. These tools are AWS Athena and AWS Glue.

AWS Athena vs. AWS Glue

First, let’s start by saying this isn’t an either-or perspective. AWS Athena and AWS Glue are simultaneously complementary and competitive. You can use them apart and greatly benefit from using them together. But what are these 2 pieces of technology? Let’s take a look.

AWS Athena

AWS Athena is an interactive query service used to analyze data stored in Amazon S3. Athena makes it very easy to use because the services are already interconnected. All you have to do is point Athena to your S3 data, define the schema you want to use, and start querying with the SQL query language. 

Even better, you don’t have to bother preparing your data for the query. Because of this, all you need is basic SQL skills to analyze even massive and complex datasets housed in S3.

The benefits of Athena include:

  • It’s serverless without having to pay any setup fees.
  • Tap into all your data with basic SQL knowledge.
  • Pay per query means you’re only paying for what you do.
  • Supports most standard data formats, such as CSV, JSON, ORC, Avro, and Parquet.
  • Queries are performed in parallel for lightning-fast results.

So, if you have massive amounts of data stored in Amazon S3, your best route for analyzing and querying is probably AWS Athena.

AWS Glue

AWS Glue is an ecosystem of tools to empower schema discovery and ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) using auto-generated scripts. To put it more succinctly, AWS Glue is a serverless data integration service that eases the complexity of discovering, preparing, moving, and integrating data from multiple sources. 

The most widely used tools in Glue are Glue Metastore (a serverless Hive-compatible metastore that can be used in place of a self-managed Hive) and Glue ETL (a Spark service that allows customers to run Spark jobs without having to first deal with complicated configurations or manage the Spark infrastructure).

AWS Glue can be used for:

  • Analytics
  • Machine learning
  • Application development
  • Authoring and running jobs
  • Implementing business workflows

Where AWS Athena is a means to interact with data, AWS Glue makes it easier for you to integrate data from multiple storage services.

One very nice feature of AWS Glue is that it includes a GUI interface to simplify the creating, running, monitoring, and managing of all your data integration jobs. With this GUI you can create seamless and efficient workflows and run them on an Apache Spark (serverless) ETL engine.

The AWS Glue Studio also simplifies the task of gathering, transforming, and cleaning your data.

What Companies Use AWS Athena?

Companies that are using or have used AWS Athena include the following:

  • FINRA
  • Siemens
  • Cargotec
  • Betterment
  • Lockheed Martin Corporation
  • LiveIntent
  • Lenovo Group Ltd
  • Red Hat, Inc.

The top industries that work with AWS Athena include:

  • Information technology
  • Computer software
  • ISPs
  • Financial services
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Insurance
  • Telecommunications
  • Retail
  • Hospital and healthcare
  • Higher education

 

AWS Athena also partners with Upsolver (a data lake ETL service) and Trianz (which accelerates and scales solutions for both Athena and AWS services).

What Companies Use AWS Glue?

Companies that use AWS Glue include:

  • 21st Century Fox
  • News Corps
  • Apps Associates
  • OLX Group
  • OST
  • myTomorrows
  • Full 360
  • Upserve
  • Merck
  • Expedia Group
  • Autodesk
  • NTT Docomo
  • HappyFresh
  • Pilot Flying J
  • Unicorn
  • MediaMath
  • Amazon Prime Air

How Much Do These Services Cost?

As with most everything in the cloud, the cost of both AWS Athena and AWS Glue is on a case-by-case basis. Because these are pay-as-you-go services, you’ll want to take a look at the handy price calculators for AWS Athena and AWS Glue.

Conclusion

If you’re serious about simplifying and empowering data hosting on Amazon S3, you should seriously consider looking into both AWS Athena and AWS Glue. These two pieces of serverless technology are not only capable of transforming how your company uses data but can greatly improve how your development and Ops teams work with, analyze, and manage your data.

BairesDev Editorial Team

By BairesDev Editorial Team

Founded in 2009, BairesDev is the leading nearshore technology solutions company, with 4,000+ professionals in more than 50 countries, representing the top 1% of tech talent. The company's goal is to create lasting value throughout the entire digital transformation journey.

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