The Pros and Cons of Using AWS Lambda Functions in Production

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If you told someone 15 years ago that they could run code without servers, you would have been a laughingstock. But look how far the world of technology has come. Serverless computing has become the standard today, to the extent that those who still rely on traditional development methods are the ones being frowned upon.

With the global serverless architecture market size projected to grow to $21.1 billion by 2025, AWS Lambda is one platform that is empowering teams to get their application production-ready – without the hassle of provisioning servers, managing infrastructure, or responding to code execution requests.

Pros of AWS Lambda

A commonly talked about (and implemented) concept, serverless computing via tools like AWS Lambda avoids the struggle of deploying or maintaining the backend infrastructure, thus reducing the time and effort to develop and deliver applications. Supporting a wide array of conditions like reading messages from a queue, triggering HTTP requests, making changes to database records, authenticating users, etc., the platform helps in building apps that are easy to scale and maintain. That said, let’s look at the top benefits AWS Lambda offers:

1. Quicker Development

One of the biggest benefits of AWS Lambda is that it allows for quicker development. Since teams can save time, effort, and money in creating and maintaining the underlying infrastructure of any application, they can bring products to the market in a speedy manner. AWS Lambda also frees them from the stressful task of provisioning and maintaining the underlying architecture while paving the way for efficient and effective error handling. All these capabilities eventually translate into quicker production, greater agility, and better market standing.

2. Optimized Costs

Since AWS Lambda requires teams to only pay for what they need and use and not for the time their server sits idle, it allows for substantial cost savings. When accommodating applications with differing loads, instead of charging a flat fee, it charges only for the requests the Lambda functions receive and the time it takes to execute those requests. Teams can quickly and easily spin up a new instance and not worry about the high costs of doing so.

3. Better Scalability

Another compelling reason why many development teams are embracing AWS Lambda lies in its ability to accommodate applications at scale. For complex applications that are constantly growing, AWS Lambda offers a simple and effective way of scaling. By provisioning and running multiple instances of the same Lambda function at the same time, teams can easily meet the evolving needs of their business and sustain user experience and satisfaction.

4. Enhanced Resiliency

When it comes to resiliency, AWS Lambda scores big! Since AWS specifies Lambda functions to be stateless, it allows for code to be extremely resilient – even under load and in sub-optimal conditions. Simultaneously, since applications are not hosted on a specific server, teams can reduce the risk of relying on a single machine to perform all the tasks of executing your code. When a machine goes down, another machine is automatically brought up.

5. Seamless Management

In addition to reducing costs, AWS Lambda is also known for streamlining operational management. Lambda’s serverless architecture provides a clear separation between infrastructure services and applications running on top of the platform, allowing teams to focus on managing core services – and not worry about where their code is located or what tools are used to manage and maintain it – leading to simplified system administration.

Cons of AWS Lambda

Despite being a popular serverless, event-driven compute service that runs code virtually for any kind of application, there are some drawbacks that teams have to be wary about. Let’s look at the top 5 cons of AWS Lambda: 

1. Vendor Lock-in

Like with most cloud tools, AWS Lambda causes the issue of vendor lock-in. What third-party applications teams can choose is decided by AWS, and this means giving up control. Vendor lock-in also makes it costly, time-consuming, and complex to port serverless operations elsewhere. 

2. Computational Constraints

Another issue with AWS Lambda is its inability to handle functions that require excessive processing. While several computational constraints make it difficult to do this, teams can break down work into a series of smaller functions and execute them seamlessly by creating a queuing process. 

3. Limited Control

With AWS Lambda, control is another issue that deters teams. Since Lambda functions run on Amazon Machine Instances, they use industry-standard tools for development. Teams do not have the freedom to custom install packages or software on the running environment. Nor are they given control over how instances are provisioned and maintained. 

4. Complex Orchestration

Since AWS Lambda functions are time-boxed, teams need to spend more time orchestrating and organizing their functions to make them work in a distributed fashion. Tasks involving large amounts of data tend to exceed runtime limits, creating significant effort for developers to rewrite the code in a different architecture. To overcome this issue, teams can use a traditional server-based application to launch another microservice or pass the object to the operating system to call a custom tool. 

5. Latency Issues

AWS Lambda’s serverless architecture executes functions on temporarily created containers. But once a request is completed, the container is destroyed. Any subsequent request triggers the same process. The time taken by Lambda to create this temporary container is high, which causes substantial latency issues. To address this challenge, all teams need to do is call their Lambda function frequently to make sure the container is not destroyed. 

As the demand for serverless application development grows, AWS Lambda offers a good mix of advanced capabilities. Capitalizing on the pros and learning how to work around the cons can allow you to execute your code with speed, respond to new requirements with agility, and build resilient, flexible, low-cost applications. Get in touch with us to learn more about leveraging the capabilities of AWS Lambda.