Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS)

Contributor(s): Katherine Wiley

Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS) is a simple, fully-managed "push" messaging service that allows users to push texts, alerts or notifications, like an auto-reply message, or a notification that a package has shipped.

To get started with Amazon SNS, developers first have to create a "topic" which is an access point that allows subscribers, or "clients", who are interested in receiving notifications about a specific topic, to subscribe or request notifications. Subscribers can choose how notifications will be delivered, even selecting the specific endpoint and protocol.

Topic owners are able to set policies specifying which types of protocols will be supported, like text, email or HTTP. They can also limit who can subscribe to notifications or publish messages.

Developers can publish a message to a topic when they have an update for subscribers. This action prompts Amazon SNS to distribute the message to all appropriate subscribers. Using "topics", SNS allows users to group together multiple recipients, like Android or iOS.

With Amazon SNS, applications can send time-sensitive messages to various subscribers through a push mechanism, removing the need to "poll" for updates, which is a feature of Amazon Simple Queue Service -- a similar messaging service -- that can receive notifications by text or email from Amazon SNS.

Amazon SNS allows users to push messages, via API (CreateTopic, Subscribe, and Publish) or the AWS Management Console, to Windows, Google and Apple devices as well as internet-connected smart devices. Once a message is published it can be sent multiple times to different devices/recipients. This allows users the flexibility to send direct messages to several devices or to one subscriber using a sole publish request.

Applications can publish unlimited messages regardless of size or how demanding they may be. All messages published to Amazon SNS are warehoused across several availability zones to prevent loss.

Amazon SNS has pay-as-you-go-pricing and no upfront costs. Users who sign up for AWS Free Tier receive 1 million mobile push notifications.

This was last updated in November 2014

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