AWS Messaging & Targeting Blog

Queueing Amazon Pinpoint API calls to distribute SMS spikes

Organizations across industries and verticals have user bases spread around the globe. Amazon Pinpoint enables them to send SMS messages to a global audience through a single API endpoint, and the messages are routed to destination countries by the service. Amazon Pinpoint utilizes downstream SMS providers to deliver the messages and these SMS providers offer a limited country specific threshold for sending SMS (referred to as Transactions Per Second or TPS). These thresholds are imposed by telecom regulators in each country to prohibit spamming. If customer applications send more messages than the threshold for a country, downstream SMS providers may reject the delivery.

Such scenarios can be avoided by ensuring that upstream systems do not send more than the permitted number of messages per second. This can be achieved using one of the following mechanisms:

  • Implement rate-limiting on upstream systems which call Amazon Pinpoint APIs.
  • Implement queueing and consume jobs at a pre-configured rate.

While rate-limiting and exponential backoffs are regarded best practices for many use cases, they can cause significant delays in message delivery in particular instances when message throughput is very high. Furthermore, utilizing solely a rate-limiting technique eliminates the potential to maximize throughput per country and priorities communications accordingly. In this blog post, we evaluate a solution based on Amazon SQS queues and how they can be leveraged to ensure that messages are sent with predictable delays.

Solution Overview

The solution consists of an Amazon SNS topic that filters and fans-out incoming messages to set of Amazon SQS queues based on a country parameter on the incoming JSON payload. The messages from the queues are then processed by AWS Lambda functions that in-turn invoke the Amazon Pinpoint APIs across one or more Amazon Pinpoint projects or accounts. The following diagram illustrates the architecture:

Step 1: Ingesting message requests

Upstream applications post messages to a pre-configured SNS topic instead of calling the Amazon Pinpoint APIs directly. This allows applications to post messages at a rate that is higher than Amazon Pinpoint’s TPS limits per country. For applications that are hosted externally, an Amazon API Gateway can also be configured to receive the requests and publish them to the SNS topic – allowing features such as routing and authentication.

Step 2: Queueing and prioritization

The SNS topic implements message filtering based on the country parameter and sends incoming JSON messages to separate SQS queues. This allows configuring downstream consumers based on the priority of individual queues and processing these messages at different rates.

The algorithm and attribute used for implementing message filtering can vary based on requirements. Similarly, filtering can be enabled based on business use-cases such as “REMINDERS”,   “VERIFICATION”, “OFFERS”, “EVENT NOTIFICATIONS” etc. as well. In this example, the messages are filtered based on a country attribute shown below:

Based on the filtering logic implemented, the messages are delivered to the corresponding SQS queues for further processing. Delivery failures are handled through a Dead Letter Queue (DLQ), enabling messages to be retried and pushed back into the queues.

Step 3: Consuming queue messages at fixed-rate

The messages from SQS queues are consumed by AWS Lambda functions that are configured per queue. These are light-weight functions that read messages in pre-configured batch sizes and call the Amazon Pinpoint Send Messages API. API call failures are handled through 1/ Exponential Backoff within the AWS SDK calls and 2/ DLQs setup as Destination Configs on the Lambda functions. The Amazon Pinpoint Send Messages API is a batch API that allows sending messages to 100 recipients at a time. As such, it is possible to have requests succeed partially – messages, within a single API call, that fail/throttle should also be sent to the DLQ and retried again.

The Lambda functions are configured to run at a fixed reserve concurrency value. This ensures that a fixed rate of messages is fetched from the queue and processed at any point of time. For example, a Lambda function receives messages from an SQS queue and calls the Amazon Pinpoint APIs. It has a reserved concurrency of 10 with a batch size of 10 items. The SQS queue rapidly receives 1,000 messages. The Lambda function scales up to 10 concurrent instances, each processing 10 messages from the queue. While it takes longer to process the entire queue, this results in a consistent rate of API invocations for Amazon Pinpoint.

Step 4: Monitoring and observability

Monitoring tools record performance statistics over time so that usage patterns can be identified. Timely detection of a problem (ideally before it affects end users) is the first step in observability. Detection should be proactive and multi-faceted, including alarms when performance thresholds are breached. For the architecture proposed in this blog, observability is enabled by using Amazon Cloudwatch and AWS X-Ray.

Some of the key metrics that are monitored using Amazon Cloudwatch are as follows:

  • Amazon Pinpoint
    • DirectSendMessagePermanentFailure
    • DirectSendMessageTemporaryFailure
    • DirectSendMessageThrottled
  • AWS Lambda
    • Invocations
    • Errors
    • Throttles
    • Duration
    • ConcurrentExecutions
  • Amazon SQS
    • ApproximateAgeOfOldestMessage
    • NumberOfMessagesSent
    • NumberOfMessagesReceived
  • Amazon SNS
    • NumberOfMessagesPublished
    • NumberOfNotificationsDelivered
    • NumberOfNotificationsFailed
    • NumberOfNotificationsRedrivenToDlq

AWS X-Ray helps developers analyze and debug production, distributed applications, such as those built using a microservices architecture. With X-Ray, you can understand how the application and its underlying services are performing, to identify and troubleshoot the root cause of performance issues and errors. X-Ray provides an end-to-end view of requests as they travel through your application, and shows a map of your application’s underlying components.

Notes:

  1. If you are using Amazon Pinpoint’s Campaign or Journey feature to deliver SMS to recipients in various countries, you do not need to implement this solution. Amazon Pinpoint will drain messages depending on the MessagesPerSecond configuration pre-defined in the campaign/journey settings.
  2. If you need to send transactional SMS to a small number of countries (one or two), you should work with AWS support to define your SMS sending throughput for those countries to accommodate spikey SMS message traffic instead.

Conclusion

This post shows how customers can leverage Amazon Pinpoint along with Amazon SQS and AWS Lambda to build, regulate and prioritize SMS deliveries across multiple countries or business use-cases. This leads to predictable delays in message deliveries and provides customers with the ability to control the rate and priority of messages sent using Amazon Pinpoint.


About the Authors

Satyasovan Tripathy works as a Senior Specialist Solution Architect at AWS. He is situated in Bengaluru, India, and focuses on the AWS Digital User Engagement product portfolio. He enjoys reading and travelling outside of work.

 

 

 


 

 

Rajdeep Tarat is a Senior Solutions Architect at AWS. He lives in Bengaluru, India and helps customers architect and optimize applications on AWS. In his spare time, he enjoys music, programming, and reading.