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Skip The Servers - Just Write Your App

Posted by Ryan S. Brown on Wed, Oct 28, 2015
In General
Tags: meta, lambda

TL;DR: this is a blog all about working with AWS Lambda, if you have questions, projects, or anything you’d like to read about, email ryan@serverlesscode.com and I’ll post an answer.

Writing code is fun, but managing servers is less so. It’s also expensive, if you aren’t running at high utilization. AWS Lambda is a service that lets you only pay while your code is running, without paying for idle time.

So it can save you money, but why is Lambda so cool? Before I can tell you that story, I must tell you this one. For as long as I’ve been programming, I’ve held Eric S. Raymond’s 17 Rules of UNIX in high regard. Composing small tools (think grep, cut, xargs, and the rest of the GNU family) to solve bigger problems is a joy. It’s possible because each program is made composable by default, taking a common input and letting the user build pipelines.

The most important rules in the set are probably the rules of Modularity, Composition, Separation, and Simplicity. Those 4 rules are what makes it possible to build pipelines that the author never considered when writing their tool, and puts more power in the hands of the developer.

If you squint a little bit, Lambda functions start to look like separate, modular tools that can be composed to solve bigger problems. Each individual function might only do a small piece of work, but in a pipeline Lambda functions can easily turn into an application in their own right.

Composability is one of Lambda’s features, and gets even better when combined with the lack of management (and monetary) overhead. When you write a function, scaling is no longer a concern. You’ll never have infrastructure that is over- or under-utilized, never have to worry about a traffic spike knocking your app over, and you never pay for idle server time.

Consider an application you run now. Do you have a webapp that you only use a couple times a day? A server whose sole responsibility is to run cronjobs? It’s likely that 99 cents of every dollar you spend on that server is spent for idle time.

This blog exists to teach you (and me!) to use AWS Lambda to solve more problems and make life easier. I’ll be posting a mix of tutorials, cool new (and existing) projects, and discussions. Subscribe via RSS, or send an email to ryan@serverlesscode.com to keep up.

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