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AWS customers have a variety of options when it comes to choosing between cloud services and running their own applications. For example, database developers have the option of using AWS' relational database service (RDS) or one of its NoSQL options, DynamoDB or SimpleDB. Alternatively, they could install their own relational or NoSQL database on an EC2 instance or cluster. Another example is messaging. AWS provides a simple messaging queue service (SQS) but customers could choose to run one offered by partners.
There are a number of factors to consider when choosing between the two, including cost, ease of use, features and control.
Partner software is typically billed by the hour. In this case, your cost is the sum of the cost of the partner software and the cost of the EC2 instance(s) running the software. AWS services may be charged by the hour or by some unit of work, such as the number of messages sent in a queue. The AWS cost calculator can help you estimate the cost of an AWS service.
Ease of use is another factor to consider. Different partner applications may require more administration than a comparable AWS service. If you are already familiar with a tool, such as the RabbitMQ message queue, you might want to stick with it over SQS even though you will have to manage the server yourself.
Features that are important in some use cases may be irrelevant in others. For example, if you need your message queue to process messages in the same order they were entered (FIFO) you should consider running your own queue since SQS does not guarantee FIFO.
Finally, consider how much control you need to have over the way data is processed. Will the application or service be used as part of a larger workflow with stringent requirements? Will an AWS service meet those requirements?
AWS services are good choices when you need a service that is highly reliable, easy to use and does not demand advanced features. The more complex your needs, the more you may want to use an AWS Marketplace partner application.
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