Controlling traffic flow for server-based resources - AWS Lambda

Controlling traffic flow for server-based resources

While Lambda can scale up quickly in response to traffic, many non-serverless services cannot. If your Lambda functions interact with those services downstream, it’s possible to overwhelm those services with data or connection requests.

Amazon RDS is one of the most common Lambda integrations that relies on a server-based resource. However, relational databases are connection-based, so they are intended to work with a few long-lived clients, such as web servers. By contrast, Lambda functions are ephemeral and short-lived, so their database connections are numerous and brief. If Lambda scales up to hundreds or thousands of instances, you may overwhelm downstream relational databases with connection requests. This is typically only an issue for moderately busy applications. If you are using a Lambda function for low-volume tasks, such as running daily SQL reports, you do not experience this behavior.

The Amazon RDS Proxy service is built to solve the high-volume use-case. It pools the connections between the Lambda service and the downstream Amazon RDS database. This means that a scaling Lambda function is able to reuse connections via the proxy. As a result, the relational database is not overwhelmed with connections requests from individual Lambda functions. This does not require code changes in many cases. You only need to replace the database endpoint with the proxy endpoint in your Lambda function.

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For other downstream server-based resources, APIs, or third-party services, it’s important to know the limits around connections, transactions, and data transfer. If your serverless workload has the capacity to overwhelm those resources, use an SQS queue to decouple the Lambda function from the target. This allows the server-based resource to process messages from the queue at a steady rate. The queue also durably stores the requests if the downstream resource becomes unavailable.