Amazon Step Functions vs Apache Airflow comparison

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Executive Summary

We performed a comparison between Amazon Step Functions and Apache Airflow based on real PeerSpot user reviews.

Find out what your peers are saying about Camunda, Pega, Appian and others in Business Process Management (BPM).
To learn more, read our detailed Business Process Management (BPM) Report (Updated: November 2022).
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Featured Review
Quotes From Members
We asked business professionals to review the solutions they use.
Here are some excerpts of what they said:
Pros
"It's a general solution that you can adapt to your own needs and is simple to use. We like that it can be integrated with everything in the AWS suite, and that the creation of the pipeline can be done using the graphical user interface."

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"The best feature is the customization.""Apache Airflow's best feature is its flexibility.""The solution is flexible for all programming languages for all frameworks.""We have been quite satisfied with the stability of the solution.""The product integrates well with other pipelines and solutions.""The best part of Airflow is its direct support for Python, especially because Python is so important for data science, engineering, and design. This makes the programmatic aspect of our work easy for us, and it means we can automate a lot.""The initial setup was straightforward and it does not take long to complete.""I like the UI rework, it's much easier."

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Cons
"Setup took about one day. We had some errors to understand in the beginning, but now everything is working good."

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"The dashboard is connected into the BPM flow that could be improved.""Apache Airflow could be improved with the addition of more frameworks.""The scalability of the solution itself is not as we expected. Being on the cloud, it should be easy to scale, however, it's not.""The solution could be improved by simplifying the integration process.""I would like to see it more friendly for other use cases.""UI can be improved with additional user-friendly features for non-programmers and for fewer coding practitioner requirements.""We're currently using version 1.10, but I understand that there's a lot of improvements in version 2. In the earlier version that we're using, we sometimes have problems with maintenance complexity. Actually using Airflow is okay, but maintaining it has been difficult.""Technical support is an area that needs improvement."

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Pricing and Cost Advice
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  • "The pricing for the product is reasonable."
  • "Although Airflow is open source software, there's also commercial support for it by Astronomer. We personally don't use the commercial support, but it's always an option if you don't mind the extra cost."
  • "We are using the open-source version of Apache Airflow."
  • "We use a community edition of Apache Airflow. It is open source and free."
  • "Apache Airflow is open-source and free of charge."
  • More Apache Airflow Pricing and Cost Advice →

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    Questions from the Community
    Top Answer:It's a general solution that you can adapt to your own needs and is simple to use. We like that it can be integrated with everything in the AWS suite, and that the creation of the pipeline can be done… more »
    Top Answer:In terms of our use case, we are building a pipeline to manage data. It's pretty simple. We validate the data and then write it in the database.
    Top Answer:I recommend speaking to a consultant if you are not familiar with workflow managers. Otherwise, it's very easy to understand how a workflow can be composed. I rate it a 9 out of 10.
    Top Answer:Camunda Platform allows for visual demonstration and presentation of business process flows. The flexible Java-based option was a big win for us and allows for the integration of microservices very… more »
    Top Answer:Apache Airflow is a great orchestration and automation tool. Its connectivity with other systems is a great plus point. The interactive UI, the options for scheduling and the very fact that its… more »
    Top Answer:We are using the open-source version of Apache Airflow.
    Ranking
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    1
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    460
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    9.0
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    16,295
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    9
    Average Words per Review
    497
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    8.0
    Comparisons
    Also Known As
    AWS Step Functions, Step Functions
    Airflow
    Learn More
    Overview

    AWS Step Functions lets you coordinate multiple AWS services into serverless workflows so you can build and update apps quickly. Using Step Functions, you can design and run workflows that stitch together services such as AWS Lambda and Amazon ECS into feature-rich applications. Workflows are made up of a series of steps, with the output of one step acting as input into the next. Application development is simpler and more intuitive using Step Functions, because it translates your workflow into a state machine diagram that is easy to understand, easy to explain to others, and easy to change. You can monitor each step of execution as it happens, which means you can identify and fix problems quickly. Step Functions automatically triggers and tracks each step, and retries when there are errors, so your application executes in order and as expected.

    Apache Airflow is an open-source workflow management system (WMS) that is primarily used to programmatically author, orchestrate, schedule, and monitor data pipelines as well as workflows. The solution makes it possible for you to manage your data pipelines by authoring workflows as directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) of tasks. By using Apache Airflow, you can orchestrate data pipelines over object stores and data warehouses, run workflows that are not data-related, and can also create and manage scripted data pipelines as code (Python). 

    Apache Airflow Features

    Apache Airflow has many valuable key features. Some of the most useful ones include:

    • Smart sensor: In Apache Airflow, tasks are executed sequentially. The smart sensors are executed in bundles, and therefore consume fewer resources.
    • Dockerfile: By using Apache Airflow’s dockerfile feature, you can run your business’s Airflow code without having to document and automate the process of running Airflow on a server. 
    • Scalability: Because Apache Airflow has a modular architecture and uses a message queue to orchestrate an arbitrary number of workers, you can easily scale it. 
    • Plug-and-play operators: With Apache Airflow, you can choose from several plug-and-play operators that are ready to execute your tasks on many third-party services.

    Apache Airflow Benefits

    There are many benefits to implementing Apache Airflow. Some of the biggest advantages the solution offers include:

    • User friendly: Using Apache Airflow requires minimal python knowledge to get started.
    • Intuitive user interface: The Apache Airflow user interface enables you to visualize pipelines running in production, monitor progress, and also troubleshoot issues when needed.
    • Easy integration: Apache Airflow can easily be integrated with cloud platforms (Google, AWS, Azure, etc).
    • Visual DAGs: Apache Airflow’s visual DAGs provide data lineage, which facilitates debugging of data flows and also aids in auditing and data governance. 
    • Flexibility: Apache Airflow provides you with several ways to make DAG objects more flexible. At runtime, a context variable is passed to each workflow execution, which is quickly incorporated into an SQL statement that includes the run ID, execution date, and last and next run times.
    • Multiple deployment options: With Apache Airflow, you have several options for deployment, including self-service, open source, or a managed service.
    • Several data source connections: Apache Airflow can connect to a variety of data sources, including APIs, databases, data warehouses, and more.  

    Reviews from Real Users

    Below are some reviews and helpful feedback written by PeerSpot users currently using the Apache Airflow solution.

    A Senior Solutions Architect/Software Architect says, “The product integrates well with other pipelines and solutions. The ease of building different processes is very valuable to us. The difference between Kafka and Airflow, is that it's better for dealing with the specific flows that we want to do some transformation. It's very easy to create flows.”

    An Assistant Manager at a comms service provider mentions, “The best part of Airflow is its direct support for Python, especially because Python is so important for data science, engineering, and design. This makes the programmatic aspect of our work easy for us, and it means we can automate a lot.”

    A Senior Software Engineer at a pharma/biotech company comments that he likes Apache Airflow because it is “Feature rich, open-source, and good for building data pipelines.”

    Offer
    Learn more about Amazon Step Functions
    Learn more about Apache Airflow
    Sample Customers
    Alpha Apps, The Guardian, SGK, Bigfinite
    Agari, WePay, Astronomer
    Top Industries
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Financial Services Firm18%
    Computer Software Company17%
    Media Company12%
    Comms Service Provider9%
    REVIEWERS
    Media Company29%
    Comms Service Provider29%
    Pharma/Biotech Company14%
    Non Profit14%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Financial Services Firm18%
    Computer Software Company17%
    Comms Service Provider11%
    Healthcare Company6%
    Company Size
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business13%
    Midsize Enterprise10%
    Large Enterprise77%
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business50%
    Midsize Enterprise8%
    Large Enterprise42%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business15%
    Midsize Enterprise13%
    Large Enterprise72%
    Buyer's Guide
    Business Process Management (BPM)
    November 2022
    Find out what your peers are saying about Camunda, Pega, Appian and others in Business Process Management (BPM). Updated: November 2022.
    656,862 professionals have used our research since 2012.

    Amazon Step Functions is ranked 15th in Business Process Management (BPM) with 1 review while Apache Airflow is ranked 8th in Business Process Management (BPM) with 9 reviews. Amazon Step Functions is rated 9.0, while Apache Airflow is rated 8.0. The top reviewer of Amazon Step Functions writes "Enabled my organization to create workflows with a lot of different AWS services". On the other hand, the top reviewer of Apache Airflow writes "Integrates well with other pipelines and builds different processes well but the scalability needs improvement". Amazon Step Functions is most compared with Camunda Platform, Pega BPM, IBM BPM, Oracle BPM and IBM Business Automation Workflow, whereas Apache Airflow is most compared with Camunda Platform, IBM Business Automation Workflow, Informatica Cloud Api and App Integration, IBM BPM and Informatica Business Process Manager.

    See our list of best Business Process Management (BPM) vendors.

    We monitor all Business Process Management (BPM) reviews to prevent fraudulent reviews and keep review quality high. We do not post reviews by company employees or direct competitors. We validate each review for authenticity via cross-reference with LinkedIn, and personal follow-up with the reviewer when necessary.