AWS Lambda - The Unseen, Low-Cost Workhorse of the Cloud
August 16, 2019

AWS Lambda - The Unseen, Low-Cost Workhorse of the Cloud

Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with AWS Lambda

We use AWS Lambda (in conjunction with SAM) to produce a decentralized notification and delivery system for 3rd Party integrations to our SaaS product.

This allows us to keep throughput for messages in our app low, and scaling is nearly automatic and instantaneous. We needed a way for our app and data to be presented to a multitude of 3rd party applications and services and didn't want to make all these points of contact happen inside our main app. Therefore we chose a queue-based approach where our main app delivers messages to a queue and the Lambdas pick those messages up and process them until the queue is empty or more Lambdas are needed.

Lambdas have proven to be very cost-effective and prevents us from needing to incur uptime for other servers.
  • Reliability - Lambdas just work. They do their job and quite well. I've never had any hiccups with them as a unit of hardware.
  • Scalability - This automatic scaling and availability are amazing. It's like having a fleet of servers at the ready but only when needed. And at a fraction of the cost.
  • Price - AWS gives you a generous helping of free invocations every month, and even after that, it's still cheap compared to an always-on solution.
  • The UI and Developer experience is not so great. IF you use an abstraction like Serverless Application Model (SAM), things get pretty easy, but it's still AWS UI/DX you're working with after that (which is to say, not their strength).
  • Documentation is always a mixed bag. Sometimes it's just easier to google your specific problem and see how others have solved it. This can be much faster than trying to find an example that may or may not be there in the documentation (which oftentimes has multiple versions and revisions).
  • The cost savings of Lambda usage (when done right) can't be overstated
  • Decentralizing architecture and logic can come at a higher development cost or learning curve
  • Working with Lambdas is pretty fun when you think about all the things you don't have to deal with server-wise
I give it a seven is usability because it's AWS. Their UI's are always clunkier than the competition and their documentation is rather cumbersome. There's SO MUCH to dig through and it's a gamble if you actually end up finding the corresponding info if it will actually help. Like I said before, going to google with a specific problem is likely a better route because AWS is quite ubiquitous and chances are you're not the first to encounter the problem. That being said, using SAM (Serverless application model) and it's SAM Local environment makes running local instances of your Lambdas in dev environments painless and quite fun. Using Nodejs + Lambda + SAM Local + VS Code debugger = AWESOME.
I would rate support higher because it's so widely used by many companies and developers. Finding help on anything is usually pretty easy even if you don't go straight to the source at Amazon. I've never even had to use AWS Lambda support specifically, but AWS support (in other products) overall has always been fairly helpful.
These are all AWS sister products, so I wouldn't say they are competitors but tools in the same box. They all work quite well together and I would say combined they are greater than the sum of their parts. Cloudformation (and SAM) templates make tying them together pretty painless and easy to deploy and entire environment. Gone are the days of needing to wire up everything individually.
Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS), Amazon API Gateway, JIRA Software
If you're not afraid to get your hands dirty in wiring things up yourselves or you can use AWS' own abstractions like Amplify or SAM, then Lambdas and their surrounding platform pairings (Like SQS, API gateway) are great tools that can help you create a backend or infrastructure for a relatively low cost. If you don't find yourself in that camp, but you know your way around full-stack JavaScript frameworks and tooling, you may be better served with a higher level abstraction like what Zeit Now or Netlify offers.