Data Lakehouse

Price-Performance Ratio of AWS Athena vs Ahana Cloud for Presto

What does AWS Athena cost? Understand the price-performance ratio of Amazon Athena vs. Ahana. Both AWS Athena and Ahana Cloud are based on the popular open-source Presto project which was originally developed by Facebook and later donated to the Linux Foundation’s Presto Foundation. There are a handful of popular services that use Presto, including both AWS Athena and Ahana Cloud. 

To explain AWS Athena pricing compared to Ahana pricing, let’s first cover what is different between them. The biggest difference between the two is that AWS Athena is a serverless architecture while Ahana Cloud is a managed service for Presto servers. The next biggest difference is the pricing model. Instead of paying for the amount of compute used by AWS Athena, you pay by the amount of data scanned. On the other hand, Ahana Cloud is priced by the amount of compute used. This can be a huge difference in price/performance. Before we get into the price-performance specifically, here’s an overview of the comparison:

AWS Athena (serverless Presto)Ahana Cloud for Presto (managed service)
Cost dimensionPay for the amount of data is scanned on on a per query basis at USD $5 per Terabyte Scanned. It may be hard to estimate how much data your queries will scan. Pay only for EC2 usage on a per node / hour basis for EC2 and Ahana
Cost effectivenessOnly pay while the query is scanning, not for idle timesOnly pay for EC2 and Ahana Cloud while compute resources are running, plus ~$4 per day for the managed service
ScaleAWS Athena can scale query workloads but has concurrency limitsAhana easily can scale query workloads without concurrency limits
Operational overheadLowest operational overhead: no need to patch OS – AWS handles thatLow operational overhead: no need to patch OS – Ahana Cloud handles that and the operation of servers
Update frequencyInfrequent updates to the platform. Not current with PrestoDB, over 60 releases behind.Frequent updates to the platform. Typically, Presto on Ahana Cloud is upgraded on a quarterly basis to keep up with the most recent releases.

Both let you focus on deriving insight from your analytical queries, as you can leave the heavy lifting of managing the infrastructure to AWS and the Ahana Cloud managed service. 

How do you define price-performance ratio?

Price–performance ratio
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In engineering, the price–performance ratio refers to a product’s ability to deliver performance, of any sort, for its price. Generally, products with a lower price/performance ratio are more desirable, excluding other factors.

Comparing the Price-Performance Ratio of Amazon Athena vs. Ahana Cloud

For this comparison, we’ll look at performance in terms of the amount of wall-clock time it takes for a set of concurrent queries to finish. The price is the total cost of running those queries. 

Instead of using a synthetic benchmark, we’ll look at the public case study on the real-world workloads from Carbon, who used Athena and then switch to Ahana Cloud. While your workloads will be different, you’ll see why the price-performance ratio is likely many times better with Ahana Cloud. And by going through an example, you’ll be able to also apply the same method when doing a quick trial (we’re here to help too.)

Here’s a few things that the Carbon public case study showed:

  • While you cannot tell how many or type of EC2 instances that are used by Athena V2, they determined that they could get similar performance with 10 c5.xlarge workers with Ahana Cloud
  • Athena V2 would start to queue queries after there were 2 other queries running, meaning that the amount of wall-clock time was extended as a result.

AWS Athena is constrained by AWS concurrency limits

AWS Athena cost

Ahana has higher concurrency so queries finish faster

Ahana cost
  • The queries would be charged at a rate of $5/TB scanned regardless of the amount of compute used. Their 7 tests ended up scanning X TBs = $Y 
  • Ahana Cloud with 10 X c5.xlarge workers has total costs of:
Presto Workerc5.xlarge17 cents10$1.70
Presto Coordinatorc5.xlarge17 cents1$0.17
Ahana Cloud10 cents11$1.10
Ahana Cloud Managed Service8 cents1$0.08

So, you can run many queries for one hour that scan any amount of data for only $3.45 compared to one query of Athena scanning one TB of data costing $5.00.


While there is value in the simplicity of AWS Athena’s serverless approach, there are trade-offs around price-performance. Ahana Cloud can help.

Ahana is an easy cloud-native managed service with pay-as-you-go-pricing for your PrestoDB deployment. 

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