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AWS Lambda – In Full Production with New Features for Mobile Devs

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We launched AWS Lambda in preview form at last year’s AWS re:Invent conference (see my post, AWS Lambda – Run Code in the Cloud for more information). As I said at the time, Lambda is a zero-admin compute platform; you don’t have to configure, launch, or, monitor Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances, think about scale, or worry about fault tolerance. You simply create a Lambda function (using JavaScript / Node.js), set the appropriate permissions, and connect the function to your AWS resources.

We received a lot of great feedback during the preview period. We have used your feedback to update and prioritize our development roadmap and I would like to share the results with you in this blog post. It was great to hear that you (and many other developers) plan to use Lambda to host mobile, website, and device backends.  We have added several features to Lambda in order to provide you with even more power and flexibility for this important set of use cases. I’ll get to that part in a minute.

Now in Production
First and foremost, Lambda is now ready for production workloads. You can now run up to 100 concurrent requests per account (up from 50 during the preview). If your application is taking off like a rocket and you need to be able to run more requests concurrently, get in touch and we’ll do our best to help out in an expeditious fashion.

Lambda will start to execute your code within milliseconds, provided that the function exists, that it has the proper permissions, and that you are within your account-level limit for concurrent requests.

Taken together, these two factors give Lambda the scale and the responsiveness necessary to host high-volume production applications. Lambda’s fine-grained pricing means that your applications, even at scale, will be cost-effective to run.

New Lambda Features
Let’s take a look at the features that we have added as part of our move to general availability:

  • Synchronous Invoke -Your application  can now invoke a Lambda function synchronously and receive a response as soon as it finishes executing. The arguments and the response can be expressed in JSON notation. You can try out the new invocation model using this simple walk through: Handling Events from User Applications.
  • New Triggers – You can now invoke Lambda functions using Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS) notifications as triggers. You can also invoke them in response to a request made via the AWS Mobile SDK (Android and iOS). To learn more about invoking Lambda functions using Amazon SNS, visit the Amazon SNS Developers Guide.
  • Simplified Access Model – You can now use a single IAM role (instead of the pair that were previously required) to grant execution permission to your Lambda functions. The console includes one-click role creation and will also help you to bring your existing execution roles into conformance with the new, simpler model. Read Introduction to Permissions Model to learn more.
  • Cross-Account Access to Resources – Lambda has also added support for resource based policies and cross account access, allowing to now grant permissions to invoke Lambda functions from another AWS account.
  • Enhanced Console – You can now use the AWS Management Console to add, edit, and remove Amazon Kinesis streams as event sources. You can also now view all event sources for a Lambda function in one place, making it much easier to see what’s triggering your function. Take the new console for a spin for Kinesis and read Getting Started with Kinesis Events to learn more.
  • Multiple Functions – You can now attach more than one Lambda function to a single Kinesis or DynamoDB stream. If you plan to do this with a Kinesis stream, we recommend that you have sufficient shards to handle the expected number of concurrent requests.
  • Enhanced Metrics & API – We added metrics for throttling, improved the event source management APIs, and streamlined Lambda’s programming model.
  • Cognito Events – You can now invoke a Lambda function as part of the synchronization process for a Cognito Dataset. Read about Cognito Events to learn more.

Great Mobile Support

“Amazon Cognito makes it really easy for us to store game states in the cloud and synchronize them across devices. We are excited about Amazon Cognito’s integration with AWS Lambda because we can now efficiently intercept, verify and resolve all the changes made to the game data across multiple devices by running the analysis on the AWS Lambda backend. As a result, we can deliver a better gaming experience for our customers.”

Todd Shallbetter, Chief Operating Officer


Mobile applications often attract a large user base very quickly. Whether you are just prototyping a mobile app or already have a large user base, you can count on Lambda to instantly add a backend that can scale automatically.

As I mentioned earlier, developers are already using Lambda as an integral part of sophisticated mobile apps. They are able to create scalable  server-side components (the mobile backend) without having to think about compute, storage, load balancing, and the like. However, the asynchronous processing model means they cannot use it in latency sensitive tasks, such as responding to in-app activity.

The new Synchronous Invoke feature that I described above is a great fit for this use case. Lambda functions that have been invoked in synchronous fashion via the Mobile SDK receive detailed context information as part of the request. They have access to application data (name, build, version, and package), device data (manufacturer, model, platform), and user data (the client id). Because function are invoked within milliseconds, the mobile backend can respond to requests with great rapidity. You can improve your overall app experience without having to worry about hosting or scaling backend code.

The AWS Mobile SDKs for Android and iOS now include support for the new Synchronous Invoke feature. You can also use the AWS Mobile SDK as an event source in order to run your Lambda code in response to events that occur on the mobile device.

Amazon Cognito is a service that makes it easy to save user data, such as app preferences or game state, in the AWS Cloud without writing any backend code or managing any infrastructure. You can now trigger execution of your Lambda functions when Cognito syncs a Dataset. Your Lambda function can participate in the sync operation by validating, filtering, or modifying the incoming data.

On the Roadmap
That roadmap I mentioned above? We are just getting started and we have all sorts of cool stuff in the works. For example, you will soon be able to write your Lambda functions in Java! You will also be able to use Lambda functions to intercept and process merge and conflict resolution events on your Cognito Datasets.

From our Customers
We also have great partners starting to participate in the Lambda ecosystem! For example, Codeship announced AWS Lambda support for deploying Lambda functions, which makes it easy to make updates to Lambda functions without having to do manual updates or build your own deployment system.

Get Started Today
Read Getting Started with AWS Lambda to learn how to create your first function. Check out the What’s New Page to learn more about the features that I described above.

Take Lambda for a spin and let me know what you come up with!



Modified 10/28/2020 – In an effort to ensure a great experience, expired links in this post have been updated or removed from the original post.
Jeff Barr

Jeff Barr

Jeff Barr is Chief Evangelist for AWS. He started this blog in 2004 and has been writing posts just about non-stop ever since.