What Sets AWS Lambda Apart? Unpacking the Definition and Benefits of Serverless Computing

AWS Lambda has significantly impacted the IT industry and software development by allowing developers to easily build serverless applications. As of 2021, AWS Lambda supports over 20,000 customers, 500K+ active users, and 70+ partners. It has become an essential tool for developers worldwide, offering flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. This glossary page will cover the definition, working mechanism, benefits, and use-cases of AWS Lambda, as well as some best practices and book recommendations.

“Remember that the serverless world is still in its infancy. AWS Lambda can now work as your new virtual building block, allowing you to reshape your infrastructure and design new system architectures without any bounds.” – Werner Vogels, CTO at Amazon Web Services

What is AWS Lambda? Definition of Lambda

AWS Lambda is a serverless compute engine introduced by Amazon Web Services (AWS) in November 2014. It allows developers to run their code without provisioning or managing servers, automatically scaling to meet the application’s requirements. With AWS Lambda, developers can create event-triggered applications by writing functions in supported languages such as Python, Node.js, Java, C#, and Go. The service takes care of all operational activities, including launching, scaling, and patching servers.

ℹ️ Synonyms: Serverless Functions, Function-as-a-Service (FaaS), AWS Serverless, Lambda Functions

How it Works

The core feature of AWS Lambda is its event-driven nature. Developers write their code (functions) and set up triggers for execution, such as changes in storage or user activities. When an event occurs, Lambda automatically deploys the relevant function, scales it, and runs the code.

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The deployment process consists of uploading code packages to AWS, which then creates containers to run the functions. AWS Lambda manages these containers, scaling them to handle incoming requests and terminating them when not in use. This process optimizes resource utilization and cost-efficiency, as users only pay for the compute time used when their functions run.

Benefits of using AWS Lambda

  • Cost-effective: With Lambda, you only pay for the compute time your functions consume, eliminating the need to provision or manage servers.
  • Scalable: The service automatically scales your application with the right number of function instances, accommodating different workloads seamlessly.
  • Flexible: Lambda supports various programming languages, allowing developers to use their preferred language to code functions.
  • Integration: It easily integrates with other AWS services like S3, API Gateway, and DynamoDB, and can act as a connecting service for a wide range of AWS applications.
  • Low maintenance: AWS handles all server management, maintenance, and patching, freeing developers to focus on their code and application logic.

AWS Lambda use cases

There are numerous applications for AWS Lambda spanning multiple domains and industries:

  1. Web applications: Create serverless backend APIs for web applications, handling user authentication, database queries, and business logic.
  2. Data processing: Process data in near-real-time, such as filtering, validating, or transforming data.
  3. Chatbots: Build AI chatbots that respond to user inputs and interact with other services to provide assistance or information.
  4. IoT: Use AWS Lambda in Internet of Things (IoT) applications to process data from various sensors and devices and provide analytical insights for decision making.
  5. Machine learning: Perform machine learning tasks, such as training models, executing predictions, or processing images using Lambda functions.
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Best Practices

To make the most of AWS Lambda, follow these best practices: keep your function code short and clean, focusing on a single purpose; use environment variables to store configuration settings; optimize packages by removing unnecessary files and using tree-shaking techniques; set up proper error handling and logging; use the right memory and timeout settings; and utilize AWS Step Functions for more complex workflows.

Most recommended books about AWS Lambda

Here are some recommended books to deepen your understanding of AWS Lambda and serverless applications:

  1. Serverless Architectures on AWS by Peter Sbarski
  2. AWS Lambda in Action by Danilo Poccia
  3. Mastering AWS Lambda by Yohan Wadia and Udita Gupta
  4. Serverless Programming Cookbook by Heartin Kanikathottu
  5. Running Serverless by Gojko Adzic


AWS Lambda is a powerful, flexible, and cost-effective solution for developing serverless applications. Its event-driven architecture simplifies operations, allowing developers to focus on their code without worrying about server management. By understanding the benefits, use cases, and best practices, developers can take full advantage of AWS Lambda and create robust, scalable applications quickly and efficiently.

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Back in 2013, I founded Echo with the simple business idea: "Connect great tech companies around the globe with the brightest software engineers in Eastern Europe." We've employed hundreds of talents so far and keep going.
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li-url Lou Reverchuk

IT Entrepreneur

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