Building Serverless Applications the right way: With AWS Lambda and the Amazon API Gateway

Building Serverless Applications the right way: With AWS Lambda and the Amazon API Gateway

Serverless applications, though the name suggests otherwise, still run on servers. What sets them apart, though, is that provisioning, maintenance and scaling are automated, taking the load of server management off the hands of your developers.
The obvious benefits of serverless, in terms of giving back development teams their time to focus on core development activity, have driven tremendous growth in the adoption of this approach. ​​The global Serverless Architecture market size is projected to reach US$ 10.29 billion by 2028, from US$ 3.57 billion in 2021.

Serverless architecture on AWS

Lambda is the event-driven, serverless computing platform provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS). Lambda is triggered by defined events and runs application code hosted in Lambda functions, without the need to worry about computing resources, and manages scaling regardless of the number of event calls.

This is critical because the infrastructure requirements of an application seeing a few event triggers per day are vastly different from an app that sees hundreds of thousands of events per second. Managing server provisioning and scaling in real-time in such a dynamic environment through a manual approach is virtually impossible.

AWS Lambda achieves this seamlessly, and in the process delivers significant cost savings by automatically and dynamically provisioning resources based on actual load. 

Considering that both AWS EC2 and Lambda follow a pay-as-you-go principle, it is interesting to compare how the two vary in terms of pricing. In EC2, you are charged for the entire time for which your server instances are running, and the pricing is based on the performance, memory and storage of the server instance you have configured. This is a setup that actually works very well in cases where there isn’t a large fluctuation in load. 

For Lambda, on the other hand, you are charged only for the time the application or function is actually running, and pricing depends on the memory provisioned for the application. In scenarios where wide variations are expected between peak and normal loads, Lambda tends to be a far better choice.

AWS Lambda also integrates seamlessly with AWS Code Pipelines, where you can deploy your Lambda application using a pipeline, or even invoke a Lambda function when the pipeline runs. This integration enables you to build an automated CI/CD pipeline, with each code change triggering required modification of your Lambda infrastructure. This integration amplifies the power of Lambda and opens up exciting new possibilities.

Why is AWS Lambda the ideal serverless solution?

Here are some of the key factors that set AWS Lambda apart as the ideal solution for delivering serverless applications.

  • Ensures that you pay only for the compute time on Lambda that you actually use.
  • Automatically handles scaling from a few requests a day to hundreds of thousands of requests a second.
  • Enables set up of ‘provisioned concurrency’, meaning that your Lambda functions scale up to this capacity with very low latency – this is ideal to improve performance during the predictable peak times.
  • Eliminates the need for manual packaging and deployment when code changes are made, with automated CI/CD pipelines in conjunction with AWS Code Pipelines.
  • Reduces time required for operational maintenance tasks, and frees up developer time.
  • Natively supports JavaScript, Java, Python, Go, C#, F#, PowerShell, and Ruby code.
  • Offers 1,000,000 free requests per month with the AWS Free Tier.

A great complement to AWS Lambda: the Amazon API Gateway

The Amazon API Gateway is another powerful AWS service, and when integrated with AWS Lambda, they deliver even greater benefits than they do individually. API Gateway acts as the doorway that connects APIs from third-party applications to your AWS services – such as Lambda in this case. It authenticates and processes API calls and manages their traffic flow. These calls are passed on to Lambda, where they are processed, and responses are delivered to the third-party apps through the API Gateway.

API Gateway enables the creation of HTTP APIs with reduced latency and cost, as well as WebSocket APIs that allow both the server and the client to send messages to each other any time. 

HTTP APIs run a typical API workflow where they are integrated with a Lambda function. When an incoming request is processed via the API Gateway, it is routed to Lambda, and the response is returned. WebSocket APIs, on the other hand, are well suited to real-time communication applications such as live web chat functions, stock tickers, live monitoring and alerts, and so on.

Why should you use AWS Lambda with Amazon API Gateway?

With Lambda automating infrastructure management, and API Gateway automating API management, the two used in conjunction with each other open up a host of benefits.

  • Faster time-to-market, with no server management hassles, and with applications that are ready to connect with third-party applications via a managed API ecosystem.
  • Seamless cross-app integrations with Lambda and API Gateway acting as the bridge between existing apps and your custom-built AWS services.
  • A resilient security set-up, with API Gateway managing authorization of API requests and also integrating identity and access management, while Lambda can authorize IAM tokens.

If you are considering a serverless approach to your next development project, and need guidance on how to get started, schedule a consultation with our cloud experts – we’d love to help!