AWS Data Pipeline vs AWS Step Functions

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AWS Data Pipeline vs AWS Step Functions: What are the differences?


AWS Data Pipeline and AWS Step Functions are both powerful tools provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS) for orchestrating and managing data workflows. While they may serve similar purposes, there are several key differences between the two services that make them suited for different use cases.

  1. Execution and Coordination: AWS Data Pipeline is primarily designed for batch processing and data movement, whereas AWS Step Functions is a fully managed service for designing and running state machines. This means that while AWS Data Pipeline focuses on executing and coordinating tasks in a linear sequence, AWS Step Functions allows for more complex and event-driven workflows with conditional branching and parallel execution.

  2. Workflow Definition: AWS Data Pipeline uses a declarative approach, where users define their workflows using a pipeline definition file written in JSON format. On the other hand, AWS Step Functions uses the Amazon States Language (ASL), which is a JSON-based language specifically designed for defining state machines. This allows for more intuitive and expressive workflow definitions in Step Functions.

  3. Service Integration: AWS Data Pipeline integrates with various AWS services such as Amazon S3, Amazon RDS, and Amazon EMR, making it well-suited for data processing and data movement scenarios. AWS Step Functions, on the other hand, integrates with a wider range of AWS services as well as third-party services through AWS Lambda functions, allowing for more flexibility and extensibility in workflow design and execution.

  4. Monitoring and Visualization: AWS Data Pipeline provides a web-based console and logging functionality for monitoring pipeline execution and troubleshooting. It also allows for email notifications and can be integrated with AWS CloudWatch for more advanced monitoring capabilities. AWS Step Functions, on the other hand, provides a visual representation of state machines and their execution with real-time visualization and easy access to logs, making it easier to monitor and debug complex workflows.

  5. Error Handling and Retry: AWS Data Pipeline has built-in support for error handling and retry mechanisms, allowing users to configure error thresholds and determine how the pipeline should handle failures. AWS Step Functions also provides error handling capabilities, including the ability to catch and handle specific error types and define retries with exponential backoff. However, Step Functions offers more fine-grained control over error handling and retries compared to Data Pipeline.

  6. Pricing Model: AWS Data Pipeline has a pricing model based on the number of pipeline runs and the number of objects processed. On the other hand, AWS Step Functions has a pricing model based on the number of state transitions and the duration of state machine executions. This means that the cost of using Data Pipeline is more closely tied to the volume of data being processed, while the cost of using Step Functions is more closely tied to the complexity and duration of the workflows.

In summary, while both AWS Data Pipeline and AWS Step Functions provide capabilities for orchestrating and managing data workflows, Data Pipeline is more suited for simpler, batch-oriented workflows, whereas Step Functions is better suited for complex, event-driven workflows with more advanced error handling and extensibility options.

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Pros of AWS Data Pipeline
Pros of AWS Step Functions
  • 1
    Easy to create DAG and execute it
  • 7
    Integration with other services
  • 5
    Easily Accessible via AWS Console
  • 5
    Complex workflows
  • 5
  • 3
  • 3
    Workflow Processing
  • 3
    High Availability

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What is AWS Data Pipeline?

AWS Data Pipeline is a web service that provides a simple management system for data-driven workflows. Using AWS Data Pipeline, you define a pipeline composed of the “data sources” that contain your data, the “activities” or business logic such as EMR jobs or SQL queries, and the “schedule” on which your business logic executes. For example, you could define a job that, every hour, runs an Amazon Elastic MapReduce (Amazon EMR)–based analysis on that hour’s Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) log data, loads the results into a relational database for future lookup, and then automatically sends you a daily summary email.

What is AWS Step Functions?

AWS Step Functions makes it easy to coordinate the components of distributed applications and microservices using visual workflows. Building applications from individual components that each perform a discrete function lets you scale and change applications quickly.

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What tools integrate with AWS Data Pipeline?
What tools integrate with AWS Step Functions?
What are some alternatives to AWS Data Pipeline and AWS Step Functions?
AWS Glue
A fully managed extract, transform, and load (ETL) service that makes it easy for customers to prepare and load their data for analytics.
Use Airflow to author workflows as directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) of tasks. The Airflow scheduler executes your tasks on an array of workers while following the specified dependencies. Rich command lines utilities makes performing complex surgeries on DAGs a snap. The rich user interface makes it easy to visualize pipelines running in production, monitor progress and troubleshoot issues when needed.
Apache NiFi
An easy to use, powerful, and reliable system to process and distribute data. It supports powerful and scalable directed graphs of data routing, transformation, and system mediation logic.
AWS Batch
It enables developers, scientists, and engineers to easily and efficiently run hundreds of thousands of batch computing jobs on AWS. It dynamically provisions the optimal quantity and type of compute resources (e.g., CPU or memory optimized instances) based on the volume and specific resource requirements of the batch jobs submitted.
Azure Data Factory
It is a service designed to allow developers to integrate disparate data sources. It is a platform somewhat like SSIS in the cloud to manage the data you have both on-prem and in the cloud.
See all alternatives