Getting Started with AWS Lambda and Use Cases

Getting Started with AWS Lambda and Serverless Computing
August 26, 2019
Getting Started with AWS Lambda and Serverless Computing

Getting Started with AWS Lambda and Use Cases

Gartner reports that by 2020 more than 20% of enterprises will have switched to serverless computing. Because it truly enables a platform as a service semblance serverless computing and is becoming an increasingly popular trend with enterprises. Thanks to AWS services like AWS Lambda, this future-forward trend in application development, and cloud-based hosting is witnessing great advancements.

For those who still aren’t aware of what serverless computing with AWS Lambda is, let’s start with a simple explanation. A responsive cloud service, AWS Lambda is Amazon’s serverless compute service that allows you to run code without having to manage servers on containers. Not saying that servers are troublesome; however, serverless architecture is way more convenient and manageable.

Going serverless means that your developers just need to focus on building world-class web applications and worry less about infrastructure management. As a result, the entire process becomes more flexible and automatic.

AWS Lambda as your compute service provider inspects actions by deploying the user-defined codes. All you need to do is upload your code. Thereafter, Lambda automatically takes care of everything it takes to compute services across multiple availability zones. The best thing, AWS Lambda automatically scales depending on how much you use it. As such, you pay only for the amount of work done on it.

Lambda’s serverless compute services can also be used in data pipelines to make it simpler for integrating data that spans across various AWS services. All in all, Lambda is a brilliant way to execute code in the AWS cloud. Renowned names like Netflix, Zapier, Intuit, NY Times, and  Asana have added AWS Lambda to their tech stack for its wealth of benefits. Let’s read through how these enterprises have used this technology to support their scale of operations.

How enterprise businesses are using AWS Lambda (Use Cases)?

Even though there are various ways in which enterprises can leverage AWS Lambda, the following three make the most widely adopted uses cases.

1. Data lakes

Serverless data lakes on AWS offer the agility and flexibility that was missing in traditional data management systems. These serverless data lakes fuel any kind of analytics be it fraud detection, recommendation engines, event-driven ETL, internet-of-things processing regardless of volume, etc. Companies like Woot have switched to serverless data lakes on AWS for its various benefits including improved data ingestion, data storage, data visualization, and management. Another important benefit of these data lakes is their virtually unlimited scalability.

2. AWS Microservices

For short-running services enterprises can utilize the Lambda through an API Gateway. Basically, AWS Lambda helps you break down your system into microservices that can be invoked using an API call. Using AWS microservices not only makes the process a whole lot manageable but also very cost-efficient. As such, with AWS microservices each function can be invoked separately as and when need be.

3. Disaster Recovery

AWS Lamba’s automated monitoring has brought about tremendous improvement in disaster recovery for enterprises. Consider CloudWatch alarms as an AWS Lambda assisted disaster recovery use case. These alarms scan all EC2 instances and filter them with a particular tag. Even if you have hundreds of servers, a single Lambda function can utilize a thousand automated monitors and scan all EC2 instances. Lambda will also automatically remove all those monitors when no longer needed, saving you unnecessary costs.

Why use AWS Lambda?

Want to get started with your serverless architecture journey? You could still be confused without knowing where you can utilize AWS Lambda. That’s where the following use cases will serve as a handy reference.

Serverless Website Example with AWS Lambda- You can build a powerful website without having to manage it even on a single server or an operating system. Using AWS Lambda you can build an awesome website with some super awesome functionalities. For example, if you wish to create a serverless eCommerce website using AWS Lambda, it will cover everything from your payment management to cart management to recommendation engine. All you need for creating your serverless website is an AWS API Gateway, DynamoDB, Amazon S3, and Amazon Cognito User Pool. With AWS Lambda you can also create serverless dynamic web pages.

Image Courtesy- SIMFORM

Serverless Authentication Using AWS Cognito- AWS Lambda can be used to trigger authentication based on actions such as user sign-up, user confirmation, sign-in, etc, using a simple Lambda function. To make your authentication procedure more foolproof and secure, you can even experiment with ideas like sending out personalized verification messages. Amazon Cognito, when used alongside AWS Lambda, will trigger the Lambda function before sending the authentication email or phone verification text, etc allowing you to customize your message as required.

Image Courtesy- SIMFORM

Multi-Location Media Transformation- Converting media files into different formats with constraints like processing time, latency, and storage is a huge challenge. A few such situations that you might have come across multiple times include image resizing based on query parameters, or defining the whitelist of image dimensions. Such problems can be easily dealt with when you are running on a serverless architecture. For example, the Lambda 1 function when executed serves the media file in the requested format. However, if the requested format is not available, executing Lambda function 2 will fetch you the media file with required configurations from the Amazon S3 bucket. It will then cache it to CloudFront.

Image Courtesy- SIMFORM

Mass Emailing using AWS Lambda & SES- Traditional mass emailing spells a lot of expenditure on hardware, and licensing costs. On the other hand, with AWS Lambda you can easily create a cost-effective serverless email platform. Take for example, the New York Times send over 4 billion emails per year including, breaking news, transactional emails and newsletter. Your email list with be stored on S3 when running your emails on a serverless architecture, which will allow you to quickly send HTML or text-based emails to a huge client list. You can even set up automated scheduling of your emails using CloudWatch events.

AWS Lambda Use Case for Real-time Data Transformation- Restructuring raw data required normalization, performing ETL functionalities, cleansing data, and even combining data from different sources. With AWS Lambda all this is just as easily done as said. The Lambda function transforms the data (buffered from different sources) as per the custom logic. This data is then sent to Amazon Kinesis Firehouse where it was originally collected from different sources and is written to the specified destination.

Image Courtesy- SIMFORM

Serverless CRON Jobs- You can run time-based tasks on a serverless architecture by specifying cron expression and putting the task on a schedule on AWS Lambda. Use CloudWatch Events as an event source. Next, specify the preferred time interval. Using this functionality you can send out newsletters at fixed intervals such as on a per week basis, schedule billing emails for the end of the month, set cart recovery emails reminders for every two days, etc. Check out an example to get started with CRON jobs in CloudWatch and AWS Lambda.

Image Courtesy- SIMFORM

AWS Lambda Use Case for Efficient Monitoring- There can be two cases for efficient monitoring through AWS Lambda. Get notifications on alarm threshold breached if your CPU is running low or beyond its limits. With CloudWatch in action, it will trigger a Lambda function that will notify the team through an email or end the underperforming resources. Or if you want to monitor the incoming CloudWatch logs in real-time, integrate it with a function which will keep track of any anomaly and notify the team when required. Or you can even program it to write these logs to your database for a backup.

Image Courtesy- SIMFORM

Real-time Notifications with AWS Lambda and SNS- Information is useless if not received right in time. Thankfully, these are not the times when a message from one part of the world would take weeks to reach to another. Real-time notifications have added a lightning-fast pace to information sharing. An interesting use case to talk about in this context is receiving infrastructural alerts as a Slack notification. Upon receiving the message from CloudWatch, SNS topic invokes a Lambda function. Thereafter, the Lambda function calls the Slack API to post a message to Slack channel.

Image Courtesy- SIMFORM

Building a Serverless Chatbot- If you don’t want to worry about provisioning and scaling infrastructural resources to run your chatbot, go serverless. Working on a scalable chatbot architecture takes away the focus from ‘managing’ it. You can, therefore, work out ideas on innovating the functionality of your bot. Moreover, Lambda runs only when it is commanded and hence you don’t keep running out of resources frequently. Moreover, you only for that much time for which it runs your code.

Image Courtesy- SIMFORM

Serverless IoT Backend- AWS IoT has a huge subset of use cases including asset condition monitoring, ensuring secure communication between IoT devices, anomaly detection, etc. If you wish to get creative with AWS Lambda make use of AWS IoT 1-Click to create business logic as per your requirements. Similarly, AWS Lambda also allows you to easily create your own IoT backend solutions.

Image Courtesy- SIMFORM

DevOps and AWS Lambda Case Study

Implementing a DevOps strategy along with AWS Lambda is best done with the help of an experienced service provider. Read this case study to learn how we helped an Australian ticket booking application for live events implement DevOps solutions in just 45 days! Result – The Booking platform achieved 30% efficiency in Software release Cycle. Click here to read the Case Study

To get the latest insights, research and expert articles on AWS Services, Cloud Migration, DevOps and other technologies, subscribe to our Blog Newsletter here. For AWS Case studies and success stories, visit Case Study Section


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