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AWS Lambda: A Straightforward Guide For Beginners

Vikas Singh
Vikas Singh
April 11, 2024
Clock icon5 mins read
Calendar iconLast updated June 3, 2024
AWS Lambda_ A Straightforward Guide For Beginners
Quick Summary:- A detailed guide to AWS Lambda for beginners. Learn more about AWS Lambda, its benefits, limitations, and examples of serverless computing services.

The cloud ecosystem offers a powerful abstraction layer, freeing you from the burden of infrastructure setup and management. This includes provisioning teams, managing servers, and worrying about scaling limitations.  

AWS Lambda, one of the key elements of the vast AWS cloud ecosystem, is an excellent solution for running code and building powerful web applications with zero administrative effort.  When it comes to choosing the right cloud-based compute service AWS Lambda is a popular name. But you may be wondering If it is right for you or not. 

Considering a cloud solution instead of an in-house setup is a common starting point for businesses looking for greater efficiency. However, the popular adage, "What's good for the goose isn't always good for the gander," applies equally to technology selection.

Just because a particular service is widely used doesn't guarantee it's the optimal choice for your organization. Every business has unique challenges and requirements. 

In this article, we will explain AWS Lambda in simple terms so you can decide if this service is suitable for you.  Also, we will cover the concept of serverless compute service, what AWS Lambda is, how it works, its benefits, limitations, and more.

Before getting into AWS Lambda, let's explore the concept of serverless computing service first.

Example of Auto Scaling in Serverless Computing Service

The name itself is indicative of what a serverless computing service is. A serverless computing service is a cloud service that provides a virtual infrastructure to businesses, eliminating the need to set up hardware and software to run a server. In simpler terms, the vendor grants you access to a virtual infrastructure to run your application.

With the traditional approach, your infrastructure may include a dedicated computer with its own hardware components like CPU, RAM, storage (hard drives, SSDs), network interface cards, operating system (like Windows Server or Linux) and various software applications depending on its purpose (web server, database server, email server, etc.). 

You or your IT team is responsible for managing the server, including installation, configuration, maintenance, security updates, and scaling resources.

On the other hand, serverless products, such as AWS Lambda serverless, provide a pool of resources required to run your application. The vendor manages the underlying hardware, networking, and virtualization layer, freeing you from those complexities.

This approach offers several benefits:

1. Serverless computing allows developers to focus on writing code and deploying applications quickly.

2. The pay-as-you-go model means you are only charged based on your usage, leading to cost reduction. To determine if AWS Lambda is the right solution for your business, consult with a certified AWS development company.

3. With AWS cloud services adoption, you don't need to worry about scaling your infrastructure. The vendor handles scaling and resource allocation. AWS Lambda can virtually scale infinitely if your existing system struggles when faced with unexpected traffic spikes.

What is AWS Lambda?

AWS Lambda is an event-driven serverless compute service by AWS. The term “compute service” refers to the processing power, storage, networking, memory, and other resources required to run a program. 

Let’s understand this term with this example: 

Let’s say,  you plan to develop a weather forecasting website. Traditionally, you would need physical servers with enough processing power (CPUs), memory (RAM), and storage to handle tasks like weather data analysis and model simulations.

This includes installing software, applying security updates, and ensuring smooth operation. As your user base grows, you might need to buy additional servers to handle the increased workload.

The compute service abstracts away the task of server management and provides you with virtual servers with varying configurations of CPU, RAM, and storage. 

You simply write and deploy your code, and the AWS Lambda cloud handles provisioning the resources (server, memory, storage) needed to run your code and scales them automatically based on usage.

In other words, it offers you a virtual execution environment with processing power, memory, and temporary storage to run your code. 

One of the core strengths of AWS Lambda functions is their event-driven nature. This means they don't run continuously. Instead, they are triggered only when a specific event occurs. These events can be things like a file upload to S3, changes in a DynamoDB table, or an HTTP request via API Gateway.

Lamba integrates with over 200 services so that you can easily create complex applications in the cloud. 

What is AWS Lambda Function? 

AWS Lambda function is a code that you upload to Lambda.  Once you upload your source code file to AWS Lambda in the form of a ZIP file, it automatically executes the code without the need for server provisioning. 

How Does AWS Lambda Work? 

Lambda function executes in response to events triggered by other AWS services or SaaS applications. When a trigger fires, Lambda allocates resources (memory, CPU) to run your function based on its configuration.

 It runs your code in a highly scalable manner. This means it can spin up new instances of your function to handle increased traffic. So when you write your code, Lambda packages it into a container and then executes it in a multi-tenant cluster of machines.

Benefits of using AWS Lambda

AWS Lambda offers a wide range of advantages that can streamline development processes and optimize costs. Here are 15 key benefits of using AWS Lambda:

1. Faster development

Lambda liberates development teams to concentrate on core functionalities, cutting out the necessity to provision and manage servers, resulting in accelerated application development and deployment.

2. Cost-effective

With Lambda's pay-per-use pricing model, users only incur charges for the resources their code consumes during runtime. This eradicates the expense of idle servers, leading to substantial savings.

3. Scalability 

Lambda autonomously adjusts its scale in response to workload fluctuations, ensuring your application can manage traffic spikes without manual interference.

4. Simplified Infrastructure Management

Lambda handles server management, patching, and scaling, enabling developers to focus solely on coding and deploying.

5. Event-driven

Lambda seamlessly integrates with event-driven architectures, activating functions based on specific events from various AWS services.

6. Microservices support

Lambda's serverless nature makes it perfect for constructing microservices-based applications, fostering modularity and independent deployments.

7. Backing diverse languages

Lambda supports an array of programming languages such as Node.js, Python, Java, Go, Ruby, and more, providing developers with flexibility.

8. Integration with AWS services

Lambda effortlessly integrates with other AWS services like S3, DynamoDB, and SNS, facilitating the creation of intricate workflows.

9. Improved developer productivity

Lambda streamlines development with pre-configured templates and workflows, empowering developers to innovate and deliver projects swiftly.

10. Enhanced security

AWS manages the underlying infrastructure, upholding rigorous security standards to ensure a safe environment for your code.

11. Stateless functions

Lambda functions inherently remain stateless, simplifying development and debugging processes.

12. Third-party integrations

 Lambda enables integration with various third-party libraries and frameworks, expanding its utility across diverse applications.

13. Worldwide accessibility

 Leveraging AWS's global infrastructure, Lambda functions can be deployed across multiple regions, guaranteeing minimal latency for users worldwide.

14. Detailed Monitoring 

AWS furnishes extensive monitoring capabilities for Lambda functions, allowing developers to monitor performance and detect potential issues.

15. Reduced server footprint

Lambda reduces the server footprint by eliminating the necessity for dedicated servers, contributing to environmental sustainability.

Limitations of AWS Lambda

Though AWS Lambda is a powerful solution, it is not always flawless. These are the limitations of AWS Lambda, which you should consider that will help you decide whether Lambda is the right choice for your project. 

Hard Limit

A single function can only run for a maximum of 15 minutes. This makes Lambda unsuitable for long-running processes. However, you can break down long processes into smaller ones to solve this. 

Memory Limit

Lambda functions have a memory limit ranging from 128 MB to 10GB. This might not be suitable for very CPU-intensive workloads.

Upload Limit

The limit for uploading code directly is 50 MB. However, for larger deployments, you can use Lambda Layers (up to 250 MB each) or upload code from S3.

Concurrency

By default, your account has a limit of 1000 concurrent executions across all functions in a region. This can be increased upon request.

Lambda functions have limited temporary storage (/tmp) that gets wiped between executions.

Cold Starts

Due to how Lambda works, there can be a slight delay in the first execution of a function (cold start).

Limited Networking

Lambda functions have limited outbound network capabilities and cannot directly access the internet.

Debugging Challenges

Debugging serverless functions can be trickier than traditional deployments.

Is AWS Lambda Serverless the Right Choice for You? 

Now, let's get to the point: is this service right for you?

We can understand it better with this scenario. 

Let’s say you're a major online retailer experiencing seasonal traffic spikes. During peak holiday periods like Black Friday, millions of customers would visit your website to browse and purchase items. 

This would create a dramatic increase in your computing needs as servers handle product searches, shopping cart updates, and order processing. Traditionally, you'd need to purchase additional server capacity upfront to ensure smooth operation during these peak times. 

However, this approach has drawbacks:

First, if your website experiences lower traffic for most of the year, maintaining all that provisioned capacity becomes expensive since you're paying for resources you're not fully utilizing.

Second, If a surge in traffic unexpectedly surpasses your estimations, your website could crash due to insufficient resources. Scaling up additional servers on demand requires continuous monitoring, which can be a burden.

On the other hand, with a serverless architecture, you can automatically scale your infrastructure. During peak seasons, your serverless provider allocates more resources to handle the increased demand.

Once the rush subsides, resources scale down, eliminating unnecessary costs. You only pay for the resources you actually use, saving you money on idle servers during non-peak times.

However, it's not always a one-size-fits-all solution. You need to evaluate your in-house setup costs before migrating to the cloud. If you're unsure, consider contacting a professional AWS cloud consulting company. They can help you determine if this approach fits your business correctly.

Conclusion

In this guide, we have discussed AWS serverless Lambda, explored serverless computing services, and provided a detailed explanation of AWS Lambda functions. We also discussed whether Lambda Cloud is a good fit for your business needs.

If you're looking to create a virtually infinite scaling environment for developing innovative solutions, or if you're considering migrating to the cloud, feel free to reach out to us today. We offer professional services tailored to your needs.

Whether you're looking to hire dedicated AWS developers or aiming to optimize your existing environment, with a proven track record of empowering over 100 businesses globally, Brilworks is your one-stop shop for all your cloud needs. We combine innovative solutions with unparalleled expertise to help you achieve your business goals.



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Vikas Singh

Vikas Singh

Vikas, the visionary CTO at Brilworks, is passionate about sharing tech insights, trends, and innovations. He helps businesses—big and small—improve with smart, data-driven ideas.

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