Building our on successful collaboration with a broad spectrum of SaaS companies and corporate innovators, CloudGeometry now been recognized with a certification by AWS APN as a Designated Service Provider for AWS Lambda Services. This added recognition of service capabilities is a great endorsement of the challenges in cloud engineering we have been able to tackle with our customers.

Lambda: Beyond APIs

Cloud-based API consumption has made building an application based on a cloud service easier than ever. But with great power comes great complexity. The code can quickly introduce unnecessary duplication, both in application logic as well as in server resource consumption.

When you trigger an event (more on this below) sending events true to your API, there are not necessarily any constraints for these kinds of event interactions. And you pay for the server resources that are behind your APIs whether you’re using them or not.

Lambda Serverless functions solve this problem in two ways, indirectly and directly.

Less Messiness

Indirectly, it makes for cleaner code. Lambda uses a model called layers. When you package code in into Lambda layer, it can be anything: dependencies, training data, configuration files, etc. You can code it with just about any language because AWS handles the runtimes (Java, Python, C++, JavaScript...).

Lambda is set up to let different functions easily share code: upload your layer once, and you can reference it within any Lambda function. Permissions, database access, credentials, are separated from the business logic and do not need to be duplicated for every function. If this seems like a more organized way abstract the services for application developers, you’re right.

Less Cost, More Optimization.

The direct impact of serverless functions is how it helps by optimizing server resources. Once you’ve gotten a well-specified Lambda function, it is easier to see how to get it to use fewer resources. When a well-specified event takes a hundred milliseconds, you only paid for 100 milliseconds — and not for a hosted instance that’s always on.

To be clear, the great advantage of pay-as-you-go with Lambdas depends entirely on where you are going (aka YMMV). Because Lambda helps you narrow on which events consume which resources, you don’t “leave the motor running” without knowing what work the motor is doing. We’ve seen more than one EC2 implementation where the load for various APIs calls outstripped what was originally built into the server stack, leading to surprises when the AWS invoice shows up. Lambda makes that work much more clear and much more transparent.

What’s more, developers don’t need to tangle with questions of containers, OS versions, network operations, load balancing, and other questions of managing infrastructure services. “Zero Admin” doesn’t mean that you never need servers. It means application devs are not spending a ton of time as part-time admins. Lambda serverless takes care of all of the scaling and resource management. Developers take care of the functions, leaving infrastructure administration to the infrastructure team.

Lambda Use Cases we have helped with

Not all event triggers are well-suited to Lambda, of course. However, the more the events are irregular or unpredictable, the more money and headache you can save by working with Lambda.

Lambda acts as an authorizer for an API Gateway, to either validate an access token, or reject, calling call another Lambda function that logs an alert

Generally speaking, Lambdas can be applied to more effectively structure interactions among server components, or to better manage steps in the data pipeline. Here are a couple of examples we have implemented at clients recently:

  • Security and Operations: When a user sends a request to the API gateway, a Lambda acts as an authorizer, and either validates the access token before proxying it to the internal service; or rejecting it, calling another Lambda function to trigger an alarm email and log it S3. Read more
  • Data processing: Kinesis Firehose receives a wad of data from IoT sensors, stores the data to the internal buffer and caches in S3 bucket. One Lambda analyzes incoming data and fires off the next step. The next step ranges from one simple Lambda, like e.g., a simple call for updated foreign currency arithmetic; to more sophisticated sequence of serverless functions, e.g., to (a) configure and (b) run a EMR/Spark application process the S3 data; once data is processed, yet another Lambda shuts EMR/Spark). Read more

These two examples just scratch the surface. Because it’s well-structured for control and scalability, you can easily handle event triggers such as changes in data, shifts in system state, or actions by users, integration with real-time serverless data processing systems, 3rd party API requests or even callbacks to web and mobile applications.

Better DevOps Division of Labor

When we come across an organization struggling to get Devops off the whiteboard and into production, it’s often the case that developers are slowed down by having to wrestle with infrastructure decisions. They don’t have complete visibility into its impact on the operating platform, what’s behind the APIs they called. On the other side, the infrastructure team has to contend with the unintended side effects of developers choices on scalability, availability, and performance.

You don’t just have to take our word for it. AWS commissioned a study of the impact of serverless application development, and as you might imagine, the study shows it can save a lot of money. What we found more interesting is what some of the survey participants said:

  • “[Why AWS Lambda?] ... On the business side, it was taking too long to add new capacity to support services. Everything needed to go through layers of processes. The business needed compute that’s ready right away, and AWS Serverless Platform was ideal for this.”
  • “We worked with Docker and some other traditional server-based management tools but opted to go with the AWS Serverless Platform. ... The biggest factors in that decision were much lower overhead in terms of operating costs and the ability for anyone on our team to do anything they needed to do on the platform.”

That pretty much sums up why our clients like serverless.

Improving Cloud Leverage

What we think you’ll find most useful is how quickly Lambda pays off in your efforts to get better leverage from your datacenter and app resources, before and after you make the move to AWS. Our experts will help you identify the opportunities for cost-effective cloud adoption, and help you use it to grow the business that runs on your cloud infrastructure.