AWS Lambda pioneered serverless space. Many developers think that serverless is the future of development. It gives you the true pay-per-use model, relieves you from the maintenance and scaling of the backend infrastructure. But it also comes with challenges. One of those is its statelessness. You need to keep the state in an external data store. Unfortunately most of the popular data stores are connection based. But as we explained in this post, managing connections can become painful in serverless. That’s why, we have developed a high performance REST API on top of Upstash Redis. In this blog post, I will implement a very basic stateful api (page counter) on AWS Lambda and Upstash Redis using the REST API.
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Designing a database for serverless, the biggest challenge in our mind was to build an infrastructure which supports per request pricing in a profitable way. We believe Upstash has achieved this. After we launched the product, we saw that there was another major challenge: Database connections!
As you know, Serverless Functions scale from 0 to infinity. This means when your functions get a lot of traffic, the cloud provider creates new containers (lambda functions) in parallel and scales out your backend. If you create a new database connection within the function then you can rapidly reach the connection limit of your database.
If you try to cache the connection outside the lambda functions then another problem occurs. When AWS freezes your Lambda function, it does not close the connection. So you may end up with many idle/zombie connections which can still threaten.