AWS Athena Alternatives For Performance

Learn why AWS Athena users are moving to Ahana Cloud
(p.s. it’s a full-versioned Presto & seamless to switch 👍)

AWS Athena is a serverless interactive query service built on Presto that developers use to query AWS S3-based data lakes and other data sources. Ahana is a managed service for Presto that gives you full control of your deployment, without limits.

While there is value in the simplicity of AWS Athena’s deployment architecture, there are trade offs with a serverless approach around performance, pricing, and technical limitations. If you have those challenges with AWS Athena, you’re not alone. Ahana Cloud can help.

Comparing a serverless approach to a managed service approach

Serverless Presto
Good for smaller volume of query workloads on smaller amounts of data

  • No installed software
  • Simple service where you just submit queries & return results
  • Performance is non-deterministic
  • Limits on concurrent queries
  • Based on older version of Presto
  • Scanned data per query pricing of is $5/TB is unpredictable and costly

Managed Service for Presto
Good for any amount of analytics, small to large

  • Low operational overhead without the limitations of Athena
  • Easy, managed service of Presto workers in your account VPC
  • All point and click – no manual changes
  • Performance is 23x faster with caching & newer versions of Presto
  • Performance is consistent
  • Unlimited concurrent queries as you can easily scale workers
  • Free for 14 days, then Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) on your AWS bill
  • Data platform experts available for technical support

AWS Athena vs. Ahana Cloud

Challenge 1:
Concurrent query, database, & partition limits

❗️ AWS Athena
Maximum concurrency is limited to 20-25 queries depending on region, and users must request increased quotas. Some users even observe a max concurrency nearer to 3-Athena users can only run up to 5 queries simultaneously for each account, and Athena restricts each account to 100 databases. Athena’s partition limit is 20K partitions per table when using the Hive catalog. These limitations pose challenges if you have a complex query in-front of queries that are more latency sensitive workloads like serving up results to a user-facing dashboard.

Ahana Cloud
Run any amount of queries when you need them with Ahana Cloud – you have full transparency into what’s going on under the hood. You get unlimited concurrency because you can simply scale the number of distributed workers.

Challenge 2:
Performance

❗️ AWS Athena
When using Athena you don’t control the number of underlying servers that AWS allocate to Athena to run your queries. As the Athena service is shared, the performance characteristics can change frequently and substantially. One minute there may be 50 servers, the next only 10 servers.

Ahana Cloud
Because you have full control of your deployment, performance is always consistent and many times, faster than Athena. See our customer benchmark results on their real world workloads.

Challenge 3:
Connector support

❗️ AWS Athena
Athena doesn’t use native Presto connectors, so you’ll need to use the limited options AWS provides or build your own with Lambda.

Ahana Cloud
Define and manage data sources in Ahana and attach or detach them from any cluster with the click of a button. Connect your existing Amazon database services like RDS / MySQL, RDS / PostgreSQL, Elasticsearch and Amazon Redshift.

Challenge 4:
Control under the hood

❗️ AWS Athena
Athena’s serverless nature may make it easy to use, but it also means users have no control over adding more sessions, resources, debugging, etc.

Ahana Cloud
You control the number of PrestoDB nodes in your deployment, and you choose the node instance-types for optimum price/performance. That’s easy with the full visibility provided via dashboards on performance and query management.

Challenge 5:
Pricing

❗️ AWS Athena
Athena billing is per query, based on volume of data scanned, making it inefficient and expensive at scale. Because costs are hard to control and predict, it leads to “bill shock” for some users. If one query scans one terabyte, that’s $5 for a few seconds.

Ahana Cloud
Ahana is cloud-native and runs on Amazon Elastic Kubernetes (EKS), helping you to reduce operational costs with its automated cluster management, increased resilience, speed, and ease of use. Plus, Ahana is pay-as-you-go-pricing for your PrestoDB deployment – only pay for what you use. Using the same example, $5 lets you run a 6 node cluster of r5.xlarge instances for an hour, or hundreds of queries instead of just one.

Users who made the switch from AWS Athena to Ahana Cloud

Don’t take it from us – see why some of our customers made the switch from AWS Athena to Ahana Cloud for their real-world workloads.


After moving from AWS Athena to Ahana Cloud, Carbon saw queries run 90% faster for their workloads

Get the Carbon case study >

Pain Points with AWS Athena

  • More complex queries would fail without explanation
  • Unable to scale past a certain point – computational brick wall
  • Only one multi-tenant Athena service to hit, with a single queue
  • Very limited concurrency as a result of queue
  • No control or visibility into their deployment

Move to Ahana Cloud

  • 90% faster than Athena with a 10 node cluster, providing greater than 50x price performance comparisons
  • Can scale to improve performance to many times faster
  • No more failing queries
  • Have full control and visibility into their deployment

Leading Financial services company

23x improvement

in query performance with Ahana Cloud

With 3 nodes, we see great performance with Ahana versus Athena, which is fantastic. With 5 nodes, it’s getting even faster. We can add nodes easily which is awesome to see we have that level of control. That’s something that we don’t have with Athena.

Price Comparison

See the cost differences between Ahana Cloud and AWS Athena


AWS Athena is constrained by AWS concurrency limits

Ahana has higher concurrency so queries finish faster

Need to go faster? Ahana gives you control and scalability

Making the right choice for your workload

Ready to try it out?

Get up and running in 45 minutes. Ahana’s managed service for PrestoDB is an Amazon Athena alternative and can solve the trade offs. You get the power of open source Presto as a managed service. Since it’s Presto, the transition is seamless and fully compatible. Our team members can answer your questions during a free migration consult call.

On-Demand Webinar
Comparing Serverless Presto and Managed Service Presto