AWS Lambda is a service offered by Amazon Web Services that allows people to build up their custom applications. Developers can easily use this solution to make apps while also enjoying scalability and flexibility. The solution specializes in making mobile-friendly browsing experiences possible. It is a cloud computing platform that runs code on demand when events are triggered, dynamically scaling the applications being run based on the resources available at any given time. AWS Lambda eliminates server costs and lets you focus on building your business up!
How does AWS Lambda work ?
Lambda is a serverless environment and works on the concept of containers, or what could be called a virtual function or app that can be executed in response to a specific event.
Each lambda operation operates in its container. Once the lambda function is created, it is packaged into a new container and then assigned to a cluster of thousands of machines managed by AWS. Before the operations start running, each function’s container is allocated its necessary RAM and CPU power allocation. Once the function has finished running, it is multiplied by the amount of time it spent running, giving you a rough estimate of how much each operation costs per second (operations are charged based on RAM usage).
The entire infrastructure layer used by AWS Lambda is managed and run by AWS. Customers don’t get much visibility into how the system operates. Still, they also don’t need to worry about updating the underlying systems, handling network contention issues, and so on—AWS takes care of this itself. It's important to remember that although being managed by Amazon might come with added costs, it is a safe bet to make- which saves time that would otherwise be occupied with the setup and maintenance of those resources on your own!
1. Operating serverless websites
A great use of the pricing model that AWS Lambda and S3 offer is by leveraging both services to handle your website's hosting and content management.
(A S3 bucket is a public cloud storage space available in Amazon Web Services (AWS) Simple Storage Service (S3). Similar to file folders, S3 buckets store objects which consist of both data and its descriptive metadata.)
Consider hosting the frontend on S3 (with Cloudfront caching) and making sure to accelerate delivery of content with Lambda functions. The desktop can connect audiences with a web server using API Gateway HTTPS endpoints through Lambda. Lambda can handle application logic and storing data in RDS for use as a relational database service, or DynamoDB for those who want to stick to NoSQL, in this case, for certain use-cases.
You can host your Lambda functions and databases within a VPC to isolate them from other networks. As for Lambda, API Gateway, and S3, you only pay after the traffic incurred; the costs of running all services will depend on your database usage.
2. Instant documents conversion
If you are providing documents (for example, specifications, manuals, or transaction records), your users may not always be happy with an HTML page. While many users may prefer an HTML page to view documents, others may want to download a PDF version of the same document, or they may need a different format for specific distribution methods.
You can, of course, store different copies of your documents in a number of different formats so that they are ready to serve to users. But keeping static content can take up a good amount of space, and doing it is not viable if the content may change frequently or be influenced by user input. Instead, it could be much easier to utilize an AWS Lambda application which allows you to provision applications with event-driven architecture as opposed to traditional server-heavy and multi-tiered applications. Such an application can rapidly retrieve necessary information when a response is required and output it for display or for download in virtually any way you deem fit, depending on your goals.
3. Page rendering
AWS Lambda can do much more than just clean up data. For example, AWS Lambda can play a significant role in helping you deliver predictive page rendering based on the chances a user will visit certain pages from what they search for on the Internet.
For example, a Lambda application can process and retrieve content for display. And if YouTube is one of the most common sources for media content on the web today, a Lambda-based solution such as Amazon CloudFront could be used to automatically fetch videos from this external source whenever they're requested by a given website's users. This approach saves CloudFront customers the costs related to maintaining their own video storage infrastructure and simplifies operations while helping ensure that high-quality standards are maintained.
4. Working with external services
If your site or application seeks services from an outside source, the need to bind the functionality of a third-party contract doesn’t always have to be chained to the code. Code, in fact, is one of the primary sources of the slowdown in web-based services, especially if they are made with PHP.
If you hand requests for operations such as credit authorizations or inventory checks to an application running on AWS Lambda, your main program can continue with other elements of the transaction while it waits for a response from the Lambda function. This means that in many cases, a slow response from the provider will be hidden from your customers since they will not see the transaction proceeding but rather abruptly stop at that point since your main application continues operation without waiting for it to respond. The twist to this solution is that in cases where transactions take longer than expected, you are still liable to pay Amazon DynamoDB (or whatever service you're using) only if there's activity - so you could conceivably run up charges due to this if you're not vigilant and checking on expenses closely.
5. Video processing
It has been seen that on a regular basis, companies would store thousands of files for hundreds of hours. As in the scenario where files are stored in an S3 bucket, occasionally, there is file storage polling as a process running on an instance. The problem for most people is when videos are being uploaded continually throughout the day, which significantly shortens the idle period, which costs more money and wastes computing resources.
6. Automated backups and everyday tasks
Some AWS hosting needs to be scheduled and automated in terms of backups or performing routine maintenance tasks. This is where Lambda comes in, taking care of that and making sure all AWS services are working efficiently at all times.
Automated backups and pretty much any task one performs in AWS. Scheduled Lambda events are great for keeping track of data within AWS accounts. Creating backups, checking for idle resource capacity, generating reports, and other tasks which frequently occur can be implemented in no time using the boto3 Python libraries hosted in AWS Lambda.
7. Disaster recovery
There are several ways to leverage AWS Lambda to construct a disaster recovery plan. Often when making changes to the primary data center configuration like code updates, jar files, or database tables, it’s best to take a backup. Lambdas can be used in conjunction with other AWS products like EBS snapshots and AMI creation via S3 to automatically backup your resources when configuring EC2 instances, for example. As in every disaster recovery scenario, there would be a primary and secondary data center, so once the new code was uploaded into S3, you could have a Lambda function copy that data into the secondary data center and invoke the CloudFormation scripts to build an instance from that code running on the secondary data center; this instance would then become available as part of your infrastructure through an elastic load balancer.
8. Backend cleaning
One of the top priorities for any consumer-oriented website is achieving a fast response time. A slow response, or even a visible delay in responding, can translate into a significant loss of visitors. Suppose your site is too busy taking care of tasks like searching or loading advertisements to display the next page quickly or to show relevant search results. In that case, consumers will simply switch to another site that promises to deliver the same kind of information or services. You may not be able to do much about some sources of possible delays like slow ISPs, but there are things that you can do on your end to speed up response time, such as making sure that ads load after all other content and prioritizing requested pages at check out as well as optimizing checks for accuracy during transactions.
Where does AWS Lambda come in? If an API or web service you are creating requires a long time to respond to requests due to irrelevant processes, it can create the perception that your website is unresponsive. One way to handle these processes is by triggering them on demand by using AWS services, such as AWS Lambda. For example, if a form submission needs to be saved in a database and cleaned up before being displayed as part of the next page load, but it doesn't translate into meaningful content for the user, such as information about what action was taken after pressing submit, then it can be sent off to your own serverless backend process where it can then be handled until ready for usage.
9. Real-time data processing.
Applications, or even websites, can have quite a bit of real-time data coming through. Some examples include things like communication devices, peripherals interacting with the physical world, or user input devices. In most cases, this data is likely to arrive in short bursts and might even be just a few bytes at a time because it's so easy for your application to parse. However, there are times when your website may need to handle large volumes of streaming input data to which moving all that information to temporary storage for later processing might not be adequate.
For obvious reasons, time is of the essence when it comes to handling some real-time events. Let's take an example where data is being received in a project from a telemetry device. In this case scenario, one could utilize Amazon Web Services (AWS) Lambda functions to extract certain values out of the stream as they are coming in and then pass those extracted values to an application that then has all the information needed to proceed based on these data points.
10. Security alerts
Are you worried that someone might have entered into your cloud infrastructure and stolen some data? Is it one of the main goals of your overall cloud strategy to keep a strict eye on any unusual activity? The best thing you can do is to be as vigilant as possible, which is something Lambda can help you with. You can write code within AWS Lambda (our serverless compute platform) that will send out an alert via email or even call someone when a certain event happens. For example, whenever one of the static website files that were hosted on S3 has potentially been downloaded by someone who shouldn't really have done so, we can configure our function to immediately alert an administrator about this breach in security!
AWS Lambda is considered one of the most notable competitors in the serverless space, and it's a safe bet when it comes to handling repeated or tedious processes. It also makes an ideal tool in the data processing world, such as serving web applications and business logic without touching a single line of code.
Amazon Web Services' Lambda allows you to provide your customers with even more granular control over the services you wish to enable them with, operating with a presumption that they can be split out into specific tasks and then having functions within Lambda able to run those tasks. AWS's Lambda is well worth mastering, as it can immensely reduce your cloud costs for operations while allowing you to scale your applications to much higher levels and improve how you deliver value to your customers.
We know that serverless cannot replace the whole stack when dealing with larger enterprises – it just isn’t reasonable. However, there are so many smaller applications that can benefit a great deal from serverless technologies. For example, we’d like to say that you can use Lambda and other serverless services along with your own infrastructure in the right way when doing something like handling payments or applying qualitative analysis to an online chat application.
Whether you're a newbie to the Serverless community or an experienced developer, it can be tricky to know where to start and how to make the most of a serverless framework.
Looking to migrate your application to serverless? You’ve come to the right place. Check out our serverless infrastructure services.
Business Analyst at RaftLabs.