Tech

AWS Lambda: High-Tech Serverless Platform To Reduce Your App Development Cost

22 Nov 2017
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9 min

You know that our developers work hard to improve your product, making it competitive and captivating for you and your potential users. And, as you can understand, for the development process programmers always use many auxiliary tools. The main goal of these tools is to develop software faster and save a client's budget, what's more important.

And we would be glad to inform our customers that the range of the tools we use in our activity is enriched by AWS Lambda - a new cloud service from Amazon. We structured the benefits of this tool and analyzed its shortcomings. Enjoy the article!

Amazon Lambda architecture

AWS Lambda framework runs a programming code with response to specific events and then controls automatically computing resources necessary for its implementation. This service allows users to run their code without managing or provisioning servers.

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Our developers use AWS Lambda as an extension of other AWS tools functionality using distinct code or development of own web services that implement AWS scalability and performance. This tool can automatically run programming code synchronically with the objects changing in Amazon S3 or table update in Amazon DynamoDB.

Lambda runs code in a high-performance computing environment and it goes in for administrative support of all resources including operating systems and maintenance of servers. Also, it controls such features as automatic scaling, software installation, vulnerabilities fixing as well as code monitoring and logs. So the only thing developers need is a programming code. Just ponder on how much money and time this tool can save!

what is a lambda function

AWS Lambda service interface

This way, AWS Lambda in action can quickly launch as many feature copies as necessary for processing incoming messages.

Actually, It is a paid service. But we pay for a number of function calls and time required for implementation of this function code. However, if you just learn Lambda or create small projects, it gives you a free access within one year starting from the registration moment.

How does AWS Lambda work?

Actually, Lambda is a framework of EC2 short-term container that uses this code just partly. In fact, this simple service web interface provides developers with an access to computing power. It also provides developers with a full control over computing resources and available work environment. The service reduces the time required for receiving and loading of the new server.

After a while, Amazon updated EC2 and transformed it into EB container. It turned out to be even smaller than EC2 containers. Python, Java, and other languages are included in the list of widely used AWS Lambda languages. Thus, the code can be uploaded directly to the machines via AWS graphic interface. Then Amazon decided to broaden the range of the programming languages to make its new tool more multifunctional.

how does lambda work

The principle of AWS Lambda functioning

Although Amazon AWS Lambda is great for uploading code packages, its architecture remains closed for developers. Hence, they cannot customize scale, but when it is applied, it scales up the objects automatically. Via API Gateway that serves as a URL provider to the functions of this service, the developers can access the Web.

What is AWS Lambda used for?

Developers can use Lambda in several ways:

AWS services

First, Amazon original web services are compatible with Amazon Web Services Lambda. Lambda function can be invoked by Amazon event sources. Such event source may be the following ones:

  • Amazon S3; 
  • Amazon Kinesis; 
  • Amazon DynamoDB; 
  • AWS CloudTrail; 
  • Amazon SNS etc. 

Amazon API gateway

Apart from invocating Lambda function with the events, it is possible to invoke this function over HTTPS. It can be done when developers select a custom REST API and endpoint with the help of API Gateway.

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Custom apps

Just an example - event sources can be constructed with the help of custom apps. Mobile or web apps allow developers invoking Lambda functions using AWS SDKs and AWS Mobile SDKs for Android or iOS.

Scheduled events

If there is a necessity to make changes in AWS Lambda settings, the code can be invoked according to indicated schedule in AWS Lambda microservices and console. It is even possible to assign specific time - whether it be 5 days, 3 hours or 2 weeks.

aws lambda local development

Where developers can apply AWS Lambda: examples

We focused on the main ways of AWS Lambda application but this list can be extended. For those who want to create their own app with the help of AWS Lambda, we can select an option how to use Lambda in every specific case.

Benefits of AWS Lambda

The cost reduction is one of the greatest advantages deserving paying attention to Lambda. AWS Lambda pricing model is simple - the requests and their duration are paid. That means that developers get, for example, a 1-hour access. The price for it may vary considering the amount of memory used. All in all, the total cost for using Lambda is very moderate. A good argument in favor of this service!

The deployment costs depend on specific requirements and sometimes can be even higher or equal to prices for using other cloud platforms and AWS Lambda alternatives.

Security comes first

AWS Lambda security issues imply that here the necessity to arrange the encryption between API Gateway and Lambda function may arise. And Lambda is a perfect service to achieve this goal. System-level security is provided with Lambda more accurately since it doesn't need any system updates. Besides that, it has both private and public IP addresses, unlike ECS containers. When we use traditional environment, we completely control Lambda's functions. It can be acceptable not for every organization, just keep it in your mind.

Working in diverse environments

You can set up several environments for Lambda without any problem. Unlike EC2, you don't need to launch dev environment anymore. Developer machines can function automatically without an additional launch.

Scaling

Scaling process for Lambda is automated and seamless. But, at the same time, it is better to put scaling under control since when new processes are created automatically, there can be a lot of bugs.

So, if we are working with scaling process, we prefer using EC2 together with Lambda. Although automated control is a good feature, you should better tune it manually before customizing.

Data processing

Lambda makes it possible to adjust the implementation of programming code, reacting to such triggers like modifications in data or system condition as well as to the specific user requirements. Lambda functions can be run from other AWS services that make it possible to develop different systems of serverless data process in real-time mode. But some functions can be coordinated simultaneously using AWS Lambda Step Functions.

Real-time files processing

Data processing can be activated after their loading to Amazon S3. For example, this tool is great for real-time previewing images, changing video encoding, processing logs, verifying content as well as uniting and filtering data.

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Streaming processing

AWS Lambda and Amazon Kinesis allow process streaming data for monitoring the activity of apps, processing of operations sequences, attendance analysis, metrics creation, logs filtering, social media analysis and accounting of devices for the Internet of Things in a real-time mode.

Conversion and loading

Lambda allows developers to implement verification, filtration, sorting and other operations as well as other procedures in the context of any data modification in DynamoDB table, and then loading of converted data to another storage.

Server parts

With the help of AWS Lambda performance, developers easily create serverless internal systems for API requests processing that are delivered from the Internet, mobile and IoT devices and other third-party requests.

Server parts for mobile apps

AWS Lambda and Amazon API Gateway allow creating server parts for authentication and processing of API requests. The efficiency of use and level of apps personalization may be increased substantially owing to AWS Lambda status and features.

Internet apps

AWS services together with Lambda allow developers to create powerful Internet apps with an automated scaling and high availability. At the same time, we don't need any administrative rights to scale, reserve and others.

Shortcomings of Lambda

It would be incorrect not to tell you about dark sides of Lambda service. So what are they?

Network control

Unfortunately, this service prevents developers from controlling networking. In EC2 environment, updating resolv.conf  file leads to displaying the IP of the server of the other account. But in Lambda environment you should connect Lambda to VPC (Virtual Private Cloud), select the necessary subnet, update VPC DHCP to display the server you require. Overall, it makes the process more complicated and longer, so some developers may find other cloud platforms as a more beneficial alternative.

Dependencies

Most software projects feature external dependencies. In other words, they use libraries. If you use complicated features such as video processing, encryption and so on, the chosen libraries can be really massive. If there is no a system-level access, it is required to package dependencies into the software.

But Lambda has an unpleasant disadvantage - it has a size limit for packages that include dependencies. Its limit is 50 MB.

Thus, if your app is small and has several light dependencies, pay your attention to Lambda. Otherwise, conventional cloud platforms will be at your disposal.

Timeout limits

Lambdas feature a 300-second timeout limit, and in some case, it makes it impossible to implement specific tasks.Therefore, hard timeout limit is unacceptable for apps whose execution time varies and for other services that require the external data.

aws lambda pros and cons

Pros and cons of AWS Lambda

The future of AWS Lambda

AWS Lambda is a high-grade level service that can substantially reduce development costs. Although this technology was introduced only 3 years ago, our company has already started using it and apply during the web and mobile app development. Today we have on-demand opportunity to apply AWS Lambda if a customer needs it.

Of course, Lambda cannot be considered a multipurpose service for any software development. When to use AWS Lambda? We use it in each specific case when we really need to apply it. But as for its main tasks performance, we are satisfied with AWS Lambda and enjoy using it.

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In addition, we use many other Amazon Web Services and Amazon SDKs actively. For example, a couple of months ago we released the new oMap.pl app, where we used AWS servers to store information. So make your decision and contact us if you want to tie your product closely to AWS. Besides, when you subscribe to our blog, all new information will always be at your disposal immediately.

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