What is AWS Lambda and what are its top alternatives?
AWS Lambda alternatives & related posts
related Serverless posts
At Epsagon, we use hundreds of AWS Lambda functions, most of them are written in Python, and the Serverless Framework to pack and deploy them. One of the issues we've encountered is the difficulty to package external libraries into the Lambda environment using the Serverless Framework. This limitation is probably by design since the external code your Lambda needs can be usually included with a package manager.
In order to overcome this issue, we've developed a tool, which we also published as open-source (see link below), which automatically packs these libraries using a simple npm package and a YAML configuration file. Support for Node.js, Go, and Java will be available soon.
The GitHub respoitory: https://github.com/epsagon/serverless-package-external
We are in the process of building a modern content platform to deliver our content through various channels. We decided to go with Microservices architecture as we wanted scale. Microservice architecture style is an approach to developing an application as a suite of small independently deployable services built around specific business capabilities. You can gain modularity, extensive parallelism and cost-effective scaling by deploying services across many distributed servers. Microservices modularity facilitates independent updates/deployments, and helps to avoid single point of failure, which can help prevent large-scale outages. We also decided to use Event Driven Architecture pattern which is a popular distributed asynchronous architecture pattern used to produce highly scalable applications. The event-driven architecture is made up of highly decoupled, single-purpose event processing components that asynchronously receive and process events.
To build our #Backend capabilities we decided to use the following: 1. #Microservices - Java with Spring Boot , Node.js with ExpressJS and Python with Flask 2. #Eventsourcingframework - Amazon Kinesis , Amazon Kinesis Firehose , Amazon SNS , Amazon SQS, AWS Lambda 3. #Data - Amazon RDS , Amazon DynamoDB , Amazon S3 , MongoDB Atlas
To build #Webapps we decided to use Angular 2 with RxJS
#Devops - GitHub , Travis CI , Terraform , Docker , Serverless
related Azure Functions posts
CodeFactor being a #SAAS product, our goal was to run on a cloud-native infrastructure since day one. We wanted to stay product focused, rather than having to work on the infrastructure that supports the application. We needed a cloud-hosting provider that would be reliable, economical and most efficient for our product.
CodeFactor.io aims to provide an automated and frictionless code review service for software developers. That requires agility, instant provisioning, autoscaling, security, availability and compliance management features. We looked at the top three #IAAS providers that take up the majority of market share: Amazon's Amazon EC2 , Microsoft's Microsoft Azure, and Google Compute Engine.
AWS has been available since 2006 and has developed the most extensive services ant tools variety at a massive scale. Azure and GCP are about half the AWS age, but also satisfied our technical requirements.
It is worth noting that even though all three providers support Docker containerization services, GCP has the most robust offering due to their investments in Kubernetes. Also, if you are a Microsoft shop, and develop in .NET - Visual Studio Azure shines at integration there and all your existing .NET code works seamlessly on Azure. All three providers have serverless computing offerings (AWS Lambda, Azure Functions, and Google Cloud Functions). Additionally, all three providers have machine learning tools, but GCP appears to be the most developer-friendly, intuitive and complete when it comes to #Machinelearning and #AI.
The prices between providers are competitive across the board. For our requirements, AWS would have been the most expensive, GCP the least expensive and Azure was in the middle. Plus, if you #Autoscale frequently with large deltas, note that Azure and GCP have per minute billing, where AWS bills you per hour. We also applied for the #Startup programs with all three providers, and this is where Azure shined. While AWS and GCP for startups would have covered us for about one year of infrastructure costs, Azure Sponsorship would cover about two years of CodeFactor's hosting costs. Moreover, Azure Team was terrific - I felt that they wanted to work with us where for AWS and GCP we were just another startup.
In summary, we were leaning towards GCP. GCP's advantages in containerization, automation toolset, #Devops mindset, and pricing were the driving factors there. Nevertheless, we could not say no to Azure's financial incentives and a strong sense of partnership and support throughout the process.
Bottom line is, IAAS offerings with AWS, Azure, and GCP are evolving fast. At CodeFactor, we aim to be platform agnostic where it is practical and retain the flexibility to cherry-pick the best products across providers.
In a couple of recent projects we had an opportunity to try out the new Serverless approach to building web applications. It wasn't necessarily a question if we should use any particular vendor but rather "if" we can consider serverless a viable option for building apps. Obviously our goal was also to get a feel for this technology and gain some hands-on experience.
We did consider AWS Lambda, Firebase from Google as well as Azure Functions. Eventually we went with AWS Lambdas.PROS
- No servers to manage (obviously!)
- Limited fixed costs – you pay only for used time
- Automated scaling and balancing
- Automatic failover (or, at this level of abstraction, no failover problem at all)
- Security easier to provide and audit
- Low overhead at the start (with the certain level of knowledge)
- Short time to market
- Easy handover - deployment coupled with code
- Perfect choice for lean startups with fast-paced iterations
- Augmentation for the classic cloud, server(full) approach
- Not much know-how and best practices available about structuring the code and projects on the market
- Not suitable for complex business logic due to the risk of producing highly coupled code
- Cost difficult to estimate (helpful tools: serverlesscalc.com)
- Difficulty in migration to other platforms (Vendor lock⚠️)
- Little engineers with experience in serverless on the job market
- Steep learning curve for engineers without any cloud experience
More details are on our blog: https://evojam.com/blog/2018/12/5/should-you-go-serverless-meet-the-benefits-and-flaws-of-new-wave-of-cloud-solutions I hope it helps 🙌 & I'm curious of your experiences.
related AWS Elastic Beanstalk posts
Back in 2014, I was given an opportunity to re-architect SmartZip Analytics platform, and flagship product: SmartTargeting. This is a SaaS software helping real estate professionals keeping up with their prospects and leads in a given neighborhood/territory, finding out (thanks to predictive analytics) who's the most likely to list/sell their home, and running cross-channel marketing automation against them: direct mail, online ads, email... The company also does provide Data APIs to Enterprise customers.
I had inherited years and years of technical debt and I knew things had to change radically. The first enabler to this was to make use of the cloud and go with AWS, so we would stop re-inventing the wheel, and build around managed/scalable services.
For the SaaS product, we kept on working with Rails as this was what my team had the most knowledge in. We've however broken up the monolith and decoupled the front-end application from the backend thanks to the use of Rails API so we'd get independently scalable micro-services from now on.
Our various applications could now be deployed using AWS Elastic Beanstalk so we wouldn't waste any more efforts writing time-consuming Capistrano deployment scripts for instance. Combined with Docker so our application would run within its own container, independently from the underlying host configuration.
Storage-wise, we went with Amazon S3 and ditched any pre-existing local or network storage people used to deal with in our legacy systems. On the database side: Amazon RDS / MySQL initially. Ultimately migrated to Amazon RDS for Aurora / MySQL when it got released. Once again, here you need a managed service your cloud provider handles for you.
Future improvements / technology decisions included:
Caching: Amazon ElastiCache / Memcached CDN: Amazon CloudFront Systems Integration: Segment / Zapier Data-warehousing: Amazon Redshift BI: Amazon Quicksight / Superset Search: Elasticsearch / Amazon Elasticsearch Service / Algolia Monitoring: New Relic
As our usage grows, patterns changed, and/or our business needs evolved, my role as Engineering Manager then Director of Engineering was also to ensure my team kept on learning and innovating, while delivering on business value.
One of these innovations was to get ourselves into Serverless : Adopting AWS Lambda was a big step forward. At the time, only available for Node.js (Not Ruby ) but a great way to handle cost efficiency, unpredictable traffic, sudden bursts of traffic... Ultimately you want the whole chain of services involved in a call to be serverless, and that's when we've started leveraging Amazon DynamoDB on these projects so they'd be fully scalable.
We initially started out with Heroku as our PaaS provider due to a desire to use it by our original developer for our Ruby on Rails application/website at the time. We were finding response times slow, it was painfully slow, sometimes taking 10 seconds to start loading the main page. Moving up to the next "compute" level was going to be very expensive.
We moved our site over to AWS Elastic Beanstalk , not only did response times on the site practically become instant, our cloud bill for the application was cut in half.
In database world we are currently using Amazon RDS for PostgreSQL also, we have both MariaDB and Microsoft SQL Server both hosted on Amazon RDS. The plan is to migrate to AWS Aurora Serverless for all 3 of those database systems.
Additional services we use for our public applications: AWS Lambda, Python, Redis, Memcached, AWS Elastic Load Balancing (ELB), Amazon Elasticsearch Service, Amazon ElastiCache
related Google App Engine posts
So, the shift from Amazon EC2 to Google App Engine and generally #AWS to #GCP was a long decision and in the end, it's one that we've taken with eyes open and that we reserve the right to modify at any time. And to be clear, we continue to do a lot of stuff with AWS. But, by default, the content of the decision was, for our consumer-facing products, we're going to use GCP first. And if there's some reason why we don't think that's going to work out great, then we'll happily use AWS. In practice, that hasn't really happened. We've been able to meet almost 100% of our needs in GCP.
So it's basically mostly Google Kubernetes Engine , we're mostly running stuff on Kubernetes right now.
#AWStoGCPmigration #cloudmigration #migration
related AWS Fargate posts
We build a Slack app using the Bolt framework from slack https://api.slack.com/tools/bolt, a Node.js express app. It allows us to easily implement some administration features so we can easily communicate with our backend services, and we don't have to develop any frontend app since Slack block kit will do this for us. It can act as a Chatbot or handle message actions and custom slack flows for our employees.
This app is deployed as a microservice on Amazon EC2 Container Service with AWS Fargate. It uses very little memory (and money) and can communicate easily with our backend services. Slack is connected to this app through a ALB ( AWS Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) )
related Cloud Functions for Firebase posts
In #Aliadoc, we're exploring the crowdfunding option to get traction before launch. We are building a SaaS platform for website design customization.
For the Admin UI and website editor we use React and we're currently transitioning from a Create React App setup to a custom one because our needs have become more specific. We use CloudFlare as much as possible, it's a great service.
For routing dynamic resources and proxy tasks to feed websites to the editor we leverage CloudFlare Workers for improved responsiveness. We use Firebase for our hosting needs and user authentication while also using several Cloud Functions for Firebase to interact with other services along with Google App Engine and Google Cloud Storage, but also the Real Time Database is on the radar for collaborative website editing.
We generally hate configuration but honestly because of the stage of our project we lack resources for doing heavy sysops work. So we are basically just relying on Serverless technologies as much as we can to do all server side processing.
Visual Studio Code definitively makes programming a much easier and enjoyable task, we just love it. We combine it with Bitbucket for our source code control needs.