AWS Lambda Power Tuning

Step Functions state machine generator for AWS Lambda Power Tuning.

The state machine is designed to be quick and language agnostic. You can provide any Lambda Function as input and the state machine will estimate the best power configuration to minimize cost. Your Lambda Function will be executed in your AWS account (i.e. real HTTP calls, SDK calls, cold starts, etc.) and you can enable parallel execution to generate results in just a few seconds.


How to build a serverless clone of Imgur using Amazon Rekognition and DynamoDB

In a previous article, we managed to build a very simple and somewhat primitive Imgur clone — using Amazon Cognito for registration and login before uploading images to the site for all to see.

Now, it had a few issues and these must be addressed before we go on to any funding rounds. We don’t want to scare away any potential investors with a few teething issues.

The issues preventing funding

Let’s go through the issues that need to be resolved prior to a round of Series A funding from any potential investors.

  1. In order to render the home page, it would hit the s3 bucket storing all of these images and then return them as a big JSON list. No pagination, no smaller images. If this thing is going to scale in any real sense then this will have to be addressed. We will have to introduce a database and proper pagination of results.
  2. It doesn’t really do anything “cool”. In order to address this, I thought I’d play around with AWS Rekognition and see if we could add some machine learning image recognition to the site. We can then browse images based on type should we so wish!
  3. There were a couple of frontend things that could have been improved upon, like for instance, you can’t click on an image to view just that one image by itself. We need to add a single page that will fetch the image location and its tags from a database. I won’t cover how I fixed this, but feel free to browse the code which I link to at the bottom of the article!

Once we have addressed these we should hopefully be in a far better place to attract big-money investors. Our finished product after we’re finished with our updates should look something like this:

Notice the tags — these were generated using Amazon Rekognition

Design patterns for high-volume, time-series data in Amazon DynamoDB

Time-series data shows a pattern of change over time. For example, you might have a fleet of Internet of Things (IoT) devices that record environmental data through their sensors, as shown in the following example graph. This data could include temperature, pressure, humidity, and other environmental variables. Because each IoT device tracks these values over regular periods, your backend needs to ingest up to hundreds, thousands, or millions of events every second.

Graph of sensor data

In this blog post, I explain how to optimize Amazon DynamoDB for high-volume, time-series data scenarios. I do this by using a design pattern powered by automation and serverless computing.

AWS S3 Batch Operations: Beginner’s Guide

If you’ve ever tried to run operations on a large number of objects in S3, you might have encountered a few hurdles. Listing all files and running the operation on each object can get complicated and time consuming as the number of objects scales up. Many decisions have to be made: is running the operations from my personal computer fast enough? Or should I run it from a server that’s closer to the AWS resources, benefiting from AWS’s fast internal network? If so, I’ll have to provision resources (e.g. ec2 instance, lambda functions, containers, etc) to run the job.

Thankfully, AWS has heard our pains and announced AWS S3 Batch Operations preview during the last AWS Reinvent conference. This new service (which you can access by asking AWS politely) allows you to easily run operations on very large numbers of S3 objects in your bucket. Curious to know how it works? Let’s get going.

When AWS Autoscale Doesn’t

The premise behind autoscaling in AWS is simple: you can maximize your ability to handle load spikes and minimize costs if you automatically scale your application out based on metrics like CPU or memory utilization. If you need 100 Docker containers to support your load during the day but only 10 when load is lower at night, running 100 containers at all times means that you’re using 900% more capacity than you need every night. With a constant container count, you’re either spending more money than you need to most of the time or your service will likely fall over during a load spike.

Throttling Third-Party API calls with AWS Lambda

In the serverless world, we often get the impression that our applications can scale without limits. With the right design (and enough money), this is theoretically possible. But in reality, many components of our serverless applications DO have limits. Whether these are physical limits, like network throughput or CPU capacity, or soft limits, like AWS Account Limits or third-party API quotas, our serverless applications still need to be able to handle periods of high load. And more importantly, our end users should experience minimal, if any, negative effects when we reach these thresholds.

There are many ways to add resiliency to our serverless applications, but this post is going to focus on dealing specifically with quotas in third-party APIs. We’ll look at how we can use a combination of SQS, CloudWatch Events, and Lambda functions to implement a precisely controlled throttling system. We’ll also discuss how you can implement (almost) guaranteed ordering, state management (for multi-tiered quotas), and how to plan for failure. Let’s get started!