The 10 Best AWS Lambda Use Cases

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AWS Lambda is a powerful service that has in recent years elevated AWS to be the leader in not only serverless architecture development, but within the cloud industry in general. 

For those of you who don’t know – Lambda is a serverless, event-driven compute service that lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers which can be used for virtually any type of application or backend service. Its serverless nature and the fact that it has wide appeal across different use cases has made AWS Lambda a useful tool when running your short running compute operations in the cloud.

What makes Lambda better than other options?

You can use Lambda to handle all the operational and administrative tasks on your behalf, such as provisioning capacity, monitoring fleet health, deploying and running your code, and monitoring and logging it. Lambda’s key features and selling points are as follows:

  • Highly scalable
  • Completely event-driven
  • Support multiple languages and frameworks
  • Pay-as-you-go pricing

The use cases for AWS Lambda are varied and cannot be sufficiently explored in one blog post. However, we have put together the top ten use cases in which Lambda shines the best.

1: Processing uploaded S3 objects

Once your files land in S3 buckets, you can immediately start processing them by Lambda using S3 object event notifications. Using AWS Lambda for thumbnail generation is a great example for this use case, as the solution is cost-effective and you won’t have to worry about scaling up since Lambda can handle any load you place on it.

The alternative to a serverless function handling this request is an EC2 instance spinning up every time a photo needs converting to a thumbnail, or leaving an EC2 instance running 24/7 on the occasion that a thumbnail needs to be converted. This use case requires low latency, highly responsive event-driven architecture that allows your application to perform effectively at scale. 

2: Document editing and conversion in a hurry

When objects are uploaded to Amazon S3 you can leverage AWS Lambda to perform changes to the material to help with any business goal you may have. This can also include editing document types and adding watermarks to important corporate documents. 

For example, you could leverage a RESTful API, using Amazon S3 Object Lambda to convert documents to PDF and apply a watermark based on the requesting user. You could also convert a file from doc to PDF automatically upon being uploaded to a particular S3 Bucket. The use cases within this field are also unlimited. 

3: Cleaning up the backend

Any consumer-oriented website needs to have a fast response time as one of its top priorities. Slow response times or even a visible delay can cause traffic to be lost. 

It is likely that your consumers will simply switch to another site if your site is too busy dealing with background tasks to be able to display the next page or search results in a timely manner. While there are some sources of delay that are beyond your control, such as slow ISPs, there are some things you can do to increase your response time, and these are listed below.

How does AWS Lambda come into play when it comes to cloud computing? 

Backend tasks should not delay frontend requests due to the fact that they are running on the backend. You can send the data to an AWS Lambda process if you need to parse the user input to store it in a database, or if there are other input processing tasks that are not necessary for rendering the next page. AWS Lambda can then clean up and send the data to your database or application.

4: Creating and operating serverless websites

It is outdated to maintain a dedicated server, even a virtual server. Furthermore, provisioning the instances, updating the OS, etc. takes a lot of time and distracts you from focusing on the core functions.

You don’t need to manage a single server or operating system when you use AWS Lambda and other AWS services to build a powerful website. For a basic version of this architecture you could use AWS API Gateway, DynamoDB, Amazon S3 and Amazon Cognito User Pools to achieve a simple, low effort and highly scalable website to solve any of your business use cases.

5: Real-time processing of bulk data

It is not unusual for an application, or even a website, to handle a certain amount of real-time data at any given time. Depending on how the data is inputted, it can come from communication devices, peripherals interacting with the physical world, or user input devices. Generally, this data will arrive in short bursts, or even a few bytes at a time, in formats that are easy to parse, and will arrive in formats that are usually very easy to read. 

Nevertheless, there are times when your application might need to handle large amounts of streaming input data, so moving it to temporary storage for later processing may not be the best option.

It is usually necessary to be able to identify specific values from a stream of data collected from a remote device, such as a telemetry device. It is possible to handle the necessary real-time tasks without hindering the operation of your main application by sending the stream of data to a Lambda application on AWS that can pull and process the required information quickly.

6: Rendering pages in real-time

The Lambda service can play a significant role if you are using predictive page rendering in order to prepare webpages for display on your website.

As an example, if you want to retrieve documents and multimedia files for use in the next requested page, you can use a Lambda-based application to retrieve them, perform the initial stages of rendering them for display, and then, if necessary, use them for use in the next page. 

7: Automated backups

When you are operating an enterprise application in the cloud, certain manual tasks like backing up your database or other storage mediums can fall to the side. By taking the undifferentiated heavy lifting out of your operations you can focus on what delivers value.

Using Lambda scheduled events is a great way of performing housekeeping within your account. By using the boto3 Python libraries and AWS Lambda, you can create backups, check for idle resources, generate reports, and perform other common tasks quickly.

8: Email Campaigns using AWS Lambda & SES

You can build out simple email campaigns to send mass emails to potential customers to improve your business outcomes.

Any organization that engages in marketing has mass mailing services as part of its marketing services. Hardware expenditures, license costs, and technical expertise are often required for traditional solutions.

You can build an in-house serverless email platform using AWS Lambda and Simple Email Service SES quite easily which can scale in line with your application.

9: Real-time log analysis

You could easily build out a Lambda function to check log files from Cloudtrail or Cloudwatch.

Amazon CloudWatch provides you with data and actionable insights to monitor your applications, respond to system-wide performance changes, and optimize resource utilization. AWS CloudTrail can be used to track all API calls made within your account.

It is possible to search the logs for specific events or log entries as they occur in the logs and be notified of them via SNS when they occur. You can also very easily implement custom notification hooks to Slack, Zendesk, or other systems by calling their API endpoint within Lambda.

10: AWS Lambda Use Case for Building Serverless Chatbot

Building and running chatbots is not only time consuming but expensive also. Developers must provision, run and scale the infrastructural resources that run the chatbot code. However, with AWS Lambda you can run a scalable chatbot architecture quite easily, without having to provision all of the hardware you would have had to do if you were not doing this on the cloud. 

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