Tag: Amazon EC2

Top Resources for API Architects and Developers

Top Resources for API Architects and Developers

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our series on API architecture and development. We wrote about best practices for REST APIs with Amazon API Gateway  and GraphQL APIs with AWS AppSync. This post will cover the top resources that all API developers should be aware of.

Tech Talks, Webinars, and Twitch Live Stream

The technical staff at AWS have produced a variety of digital media that cover new service launches, best practices, and customer questions. Be sure to review these videos for tips and tricks on building APIs:

  • Happy Little APIs: This is a multi part series produced by our awesome Developer Advocate, Eric Johnson. He leads a series of talks that demonstrate how to build a real world API.
  • API Gateway’s WebSocket webinar: API Gateway now supports real time APIs with Websockets. This webinar covers how to use this feature and why you should let API Gateway manage your realtime APIs.
  • Best practices for building enterprise grade APIs: API Gateway reduces the time it takes to build and deploy REST development but there are strategies that can make development, security, and management easier.
  • An Intro to AWS AppSync and GraphQL: AppSync helps you build sophisticated data applications with realtime and offline capabilities.

Gain Experience With Hands-On Workshops and Examples

One of the easiest ways to get started with Serverless REST API development is to use the Serverless Application Model (SAM). SAM lets you run APIs and Lambda functions locally on your machine for easy development and testing.

For example, you can configure API Gateway as an Event source for Lambda with just a few lines of code:

Type: Api
Properties:
Path: /photos
Method: post

There are many great examples on our GitHub page to help you get started with Authorization (IAMCognito), Request, Response,  various policies , and CORS configurations for API Gateway.

If you’re working with GraphQL, you should review the Amplify Framework. This is an official AWS project that helps you quickly build Web Applications with built in AuthN and backend APIs using REST or GraphQL. With just a few lines of code, you can have Amplify add all required configurations for your GraphQL API. You have two options to integrate your application with an AppSync API:

  1. Directly using the Amplify GraphQL Client
  2. Using the AWS AppSync SDK

An excellent walk through of the Amplify toolkit is available here, including an example showing how to create a single page web app using ReactJS powered by an AppSync GraphQL API.

Finally, if you are interested in a full hands on experience, take a look at:

  • The Amazon API Gateway WildRydes workshop. This workshop teaches you how to build a functional single page web app with a REST backend, powered by API Gateway.
  • The AWS AppSync GraphQL Photo Workshop. This workshop teaches you how to use Amplify to quickly build a Photo sharing web app, powered by AppSync.

Useful Documentation

The official AWS documentation is the source of truth for architects and developers. Get started with the API Gateway developer guide. API Gateway is currently has two APIs (V1 and V2) for managing the service. Here is where you can view the SDK and CLI reference.

Get started with the AppSync developer guide, and review the AppSync management API.

Summary

As an API architect, your job is not only to design and implement the best API for your use case, but your job is also to figure out which type of API is most cost effective for your product. For example, an application with high request volume (“chatty“) may benefit from a GraphQL implementation instead of REST.

API Gateway currently charges $3.50 / million requests and provides a free tier of 1 Million requests per month. There is tiered pricing that will reduce your costs as request volume rises. AppSync currently charges $4.00 / million for Query and Mutation requests.

While AppSync pricing per request is slightly higher, keep in mind that the nature of GraphQL APIs typically result in significantly fewer overall request numbers.

Finally, we encourage you to join us in the coming weeks — we will be starting a series of posts covering messaging best practices.

About the Author

George MaoGeorge Mao is a Specialist Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services, focused on the Serverless platform. George is responsible for helping customers design and operate Serverless applications using services like Lambda, API Gateway, Cognito, and DynamoDB. He is a regular speaker at AWS Summits, re:Invent, and various tech events. George is a software engineer and enjoys contributing to open source projects, delivering technical presentations at technology events, and working with customers to design their applications in the Cloud. George holds a Bachelor of Computer Science and Masters of IT from Virginia Tech.

from AWS Architecture Blog

Wag!: Why Even Your Dog Loves a Canary Deployment

Wag!: Why Even Your Dog Loves a Canary Deployment

Since August 26 was National Dog Day, we thought it might be a great time to talk about why Wag!,an on-demand dog-walking, boarding, and pet-setting service that’s available in 43 states and 100 cities, deployed blue-green (or canary) architecture for increased availability and reduced risk using Amazon ECS.

Last June, Dave Bullock, Director of Engineering from Wag Labs Inc., talked with AWS Senior Solutions Architect Peter Tilsen about how the company needed to find a faster solution for updates and rollbacks than what the previously solution, AWS OpsWorks, could provide. What used to take up to 10 minutes for a rolling deployment for all of their cluster instances, now is done in a few minutes.

Listen to Dave as he shows us how Wag! runs canary deployments (a technique for releasing applications by shifting traffic between two identical environments running different versions of the application) of containerized applications with ECS.

*Check out more This Is My Architecture video series.

About the author

Annik StahlAnnik Stahl is a Senior Program Manager in AWS, specializing in blog and magazine content as well as customer ratings and satisfaction. Having been the face of Microsoft Office for 10 years as the Crabby Office Lady columnist, she loves getting to know her customers and wants to hear from you.

from AWS Architecture Blog

Things to Consider When You Build a GraphQL API with AWS AppSync

Things to Consider When You Build a GraphQL API with AWS AppSync

Co-authored by George Mao

When building a serverless API layer in AWS (one that provides a custom grammar for your serverless resources), your choices include Amazon API Gateway (REST) and AWS AppSync (GraphQL). We’ve discussed the differences between REST and GraphQL in our first post of this series and explored REST APIs in our second post. This post will dive deeper into GraphQL implementation with AppSync.

Note that the GraphQL specification is focused on grammar and expected behavior, and is light on implementation details. Therefore, each GraphQL implementation approaches these details in a different way. While this blog post speaks to architectural principles, it will also discuss specific features AppSync for practical advice.

Schema vs. Resolver Complexity

All GraphQL APIs are defined by their schema. The schema contains operation definitions (Queries, Mutations, and Subscriptions), as well as data definitions (Data and Input Types). Since GraphQL tools provide introspection, your Schema also becomes your API documentation. So, as your Schema grows, it’s important that it’s consistent and adheres to best practices (such as the use of Input Types for mutations).

Clients will love using your API if they can do what they want with as little work as possible. A good rule of thumb is to put any necessary complexity in the resolver rather than in the client code. For example, if you know client applications will need “Book” information that includes the cover art and current sales ranking – all from different data sources – you can build a single data type that combines them:

GraphQL API -1

In this case, the complexity associated with assembling that data should be handled in the resolver, rather than forcing the client code to make multiple calls and manipulate the returned data.

Mapping data storage to schema gets more complex when you are accessing legacy data services: internal APIs, external REST services, relational database SQL, and services with custom protocols or libraries. The other end of the spectrum is new development, where some architects argue they can map their entire schema to a single source. In practice, your mapping should consider the following:

  • Should slower data sources have a caching layer?
  • Do your most frequently used operations have low latency?
  • How many layers (services) does a request touch?
  • Can high latency requests be modeled asynchronously?

With AppSync, you have the option to use Pipeline Resolvers, which execute reusable functions within a resolver context. Each function in the pipeline can call one of the native resolver types.

Security

Public APIs (ones with an external endpoint) provide access to secured resources. The first line of defense is authorization – restricting who can call an operation in the GraphQL Schema. AppSync has four methods to authenticate clients:

  • API keys: Since the API key does not reference an identity and is easily compromised, we recommend it be used for development only.
  • IAMs: These are standard AWS credentials that are often used for server-side processes. A common example is assigning an execution role to a AWS Lambda function that makes calls to AppSync.
  • OIDC Tokens: These are time-limited and suitable for external clients.
  • Cognito User Pool Tokens: These provide the advantages of OIDC tokens, and also allow you to use the @auth transform for authorization.

Authorization in GraphQL is handled in the resolver logic, which allows field-level access to your data, depending on any criteria you can express in the resolver. This allows flexibility, but also introduces complexity in the form of code.

AppSync Resolvers use a Request/Response template pattern similar to API Gateway. Like API Gateway, the template language is Apache Velocity. In an AppSync resolver, you have the ability to examine the incoming authentication information (such as the IAM username) in the context variable. You can then compare that username against an owner field in the data being retrieved.

AppSync provides declarative security using the @auth and @model transforms. Transforms are annotations you add to your schema that are interpreted by the Amplify Toolchain. Using the @auth transform, you can apply different authentication types to different operations. AppSync will automatically generate resolver logic for DynamoDB, based on the data types in your schema. You can also define field-level permissions based on identity. Get detailed information.

Performance

To get a quantitative view of your API’s performance, you should enable field-level logging on your AppSync API. Doing so will automatically emit information into CloudWatch Logs. Then you can analyze AppSync performance with CloudWatch Logs Insights to identify performance bottlenecks and the root cause of operational problems, such as:

  • Resolvers with the maximum latency
  • The most (or least) frequently invoked resolvers
  • Resolvers with the most errors

Remember, choice of resolver type has an impact on performance. When accessing your data sources, you should prefer a native resolver type such as Amazon DynamoDB or Amazon ElasticSearch using VTL templates. The HTTP resolver type is very efficient, but latency depends on the performance of the downstream service. Lambda resolvers provide flexibility, but have the performance characteristics of your application code.

AppSync also has another resolver type, the Local Resolver, which doesn’t interact with a data source. Instead, this resolver invokes a mutation operation that will result in a subscription message being sent. This is useful in use cases where AppSync is used as a message bus, or in cases where the data has been modified by an external source, and notifications must be sent without modifying the data a second time.

GraphQL API -2

GraphQL Subscriptions

One of the reasons customers choose GraphQL is the power of Subscriptions. These are notifications that are sent immediately to clients when data has changed by a mutation. AppSync subscriptions are implemented using Websockets, and are directly tied to a mutation in the schema. The AppSync SDKs and AWS Amplify Library allow clients to subscribe to these real-time notifications.

AppSync Subscriptions have many uses outside standard API CRUD operations. They can be used for inter-client communication, such as a mobile or web chat application. Subscription notifications can also be used to provide asynchronous responses to long-running requests. The initial request returns quickly, while the full result can be sent via subscription when it’s complete (local resolvers are useful for this pattern).

Subscriptions will only be received if the client is currently running, connected to the server, and is subscribed to the target mutation. If you have a mobile client, you may want to augment these notifications with mobile or web push notifications.

Summary

The choice of using a GraphQL API brings many advantages, especially for client developers. While basic considerations of Security and Performance are important (as they are in any solution), GraphQL APIs require some thought and planning around Schema and Resolver organization, and managing their complexity.

About the author

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson is a Specialist Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services, focused on Mobile Applications. Steve helps customers design Mobile and GraphQL applications using AWS Amplify, Amazon AppSync, Amazon Cognito, and the AWS Serverless Suite of products. He is a speaker at AWS Summits and various tech events. Steve is a software and systems engineer and enjoys tinkering with all things mechanical and cloud related. He holds a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering and Masters in Software Systems Engineering. Steve lives and works near us-east-1, because the latency is good.

 

from AWS Architecture Blog

Improve Productivity and Reduce Overhead Expenses with Red Hat OpenShift Dedicated on AWS

Improve Productivity and Reduce Overhead Expenses with Red Hat OpenShift Dedicated on AWS

Red Hat OpenShift on AWS helps you develop, deploy, and manage container-based applications across on-premises and cloud environments. A recent case study from Cathay Pacific Airways proved that the use of the Red Hat OpenShift application platform can significantly improve developer productivity and reduce operational overhead by automating infrastructure, application deployment, and scaling. In this post, I explore how the architectural implementation and customization options of Red Hat OpenShift dedicated on AWS can cater to a variety of customer needs.

Red Hat OpenShift is a turn key solution providing  a container runtime, Kubernetes orchestration, container image repositories, pipeline, build process, monitoring, logging, role-based access control, granular policy-based control, and abstractions to simplify functions. Deploying a single turnkey solution, instead of building and integrating a collection of independent solutions or services, allows you to invest more time and effort in building meaningful applications for your business.

In the past, Red Hat OpenShift deployed on Amazon EC2 using an automated provisioning process with an open source solution, like the Red Hat OpenShift on AWS Quick Start. The Red Hat OpenShift Quick Start is an infrastructure as code solution which accelerates customer provisioning of Red Hat OpenShift on AWS. The OpenShift Quick Start adheres to the reference architecture to deploy Red Hat OpenShift on AWS in a resilient, scalable, well-architected manner. This reference architecture sees the control plane as a collection of load balanced master nodes for traffic routing, session state, scheduling, and monitoring. It also contains the application nodes where the customer’s containerized workloads run. This solution allowed customers to get up and running within three hours; however, it did not reduce management overhead because customers were required to monitor and maintain the infrastructure of the Red Hat OpenShift cluster.

Red Hat and AWS listened to customer feedback and created Red Hat OpenShift dedicated, a fully managed OpenShift implementation running exclusively on AWS. This implementation monitors the layers and functions, scales the layers to cater to consumption needs, and addresses operational concerns.

Customers now have access to a platform that helps manage control planes for business-critical solutions, like their developer and operational platforms.

Red Hat OpenShift Dedicated Infrastructure on AWS

You can purchase Red Hat OpenShift dedicated through the Red Hat account team. Red Hat OpenShift dedicated comes in two varieties: the Standard edition and the Cloud Choice edition (bring your own cloud).

redhar-openshit options

Figure 1: Red Hat OpenShift architecture illustrating master and infrastructure nodes spread over three Availability Zones and placed behind elastic load balancers.

Red Hat OpenShift dedicated adheres to the reference architecture defined by AWS and Red Hat. Master and infrastructure layers are spread across three AWS availability zones providing resilience within the OpenShift solution, as well as the underlying infrastructure.

Red Hat OpenShift Dedicated Standard Edition

In the Red Hat OpenShift dedicated standard edition, Red Hat deploys the OpenShift cluster into an AWS account owned and managed by Red Hat. Red Hat provides an aggregated bill for the OpenShift subscription fees, management fees, and AWS billing. This edition is ideal for customers who want everything to be managed for them. The Red Hat site reliability engineering  team (SRE) will monitor and manage healing, scaling, and patching of the cluster.

Red Hat OpenShift Cloud Choice Edition

The cloud choice edition allows customers to create their own AWS account, and then have the Red Hat OpenShift dedicated infrastructure provisioned into their existing account. The Red Hat SRE team provisions the Red Hat OpenShift cluster into the customer owned AWS account and manages the solution via IAM roles.

Figure 2: Red Hat OpenShift Cloud Choice IAM role separation

Red Hat provides billing for the Red Hat OpenShift Cloud Choice subscription and management fees, and AWS provides billing for the AWS resources. Keeping the Red Hat OpenShift infrastructure within your AWS account allows better cost controls.

Red Hat OpenShift Cloud Choice provides visibility into the resources running in your account; which is desirable if you have regulatory and auditing concerns. You can inspect, monitor, and audit resources within the AWS account — taking advantage of the rich AWS service set (AWS CloudTrail, AWS config, AWS CloudWatch, and AWS cost explorer).

You can also take advantage of cost management solutions like AWS organizations and consolidated billing. Customers with multiple business units using AWS can combine the usage across their accounts to share the volume pricing discounts resulting in cost savings for projects, departments, and companies.

Red Hat OpenShift Cloud Choice dedicated cannot be deployed into an account currently hosting other applications and resources. In order to maintain separation of control with the managed service, Red Hat OpenShift Cloud Choice dedicated requires an AWS account dedicated to the managed Red Hat OpenShift solution.

You can take advantage of cost reductions of up to 70% using Reserved Instances, which match the pervasive running instances. This is ideal for the master and infrastructure nodes of the Red Hat OpenShift solutions running in your account. The reference architecture for Red Hat OpenShift on AWS recommends spanning  nodes over three availability zones, which translates to three master instances. The master and infrastructure nodes scale differently; so, there will be three additional instances for the infrastructure nodes. Purchasing reserved instances to offset the costs of the master nodes and the infrastructure nodes can free up funds for your next project.

Interactions

DevOps teams using either edition of Red Hat OpenShift dedicated have a rich console experience providing control over networking between application workloads, storage, and monitoring. Granular drill down consoles enable operations teams to focus on what is most critical to their organization.

Each interface is controlled through granular role-based access control. Teams have visibility of high-level cluster overviews where they are able to see visualizations of the overall health of the cluster; and they have access to more granular overviews of views of hosts, nodes, and containers. Application owners, key stake holders, and operations teams have access to a customizable dashboard displaying the running state. Teams can drill down to the underlying nodes, and further into the PODs and containers, should they wish to explore the status or overall health of the containerized micro services. The cluster-wide event stream provides the same drill down experience to logging events.

The drill down console menu options are illustrated in the screenshots below:

In summary, the partnership of Red Hat and AWS created a fully managed solution which directly answers customer feedback requests for a fully managed application platform running on the availability, scalability, and cost benefits of AWS. The solution allows visibility and control whenever and wherever you need it.

About the author

Ryan Niksch

Ryan Niksch is a Partner Solutions Architect focusing on application platforms, hybrid application solutions, and modernization. Ryan has worn many hats in his life and has a passion for tinkering and a desire to leave everything he touches a little better than when he found it.

from AWS Architecture Blog

Things to Consider When You Build REST APIs with Amazon API Gateway

Things to Consider When You Build REST APIs with Amazon API Gateway

A few weeks ago, we kicked off this series with a discussion on REST vs GraphQL APIs. This post will dive deeper into the things an API architect or developer should consider when building REST APIs with Amazon API Gateway.

Request Rate (a.k.a. “TPS”)

Request rate is the first thing you should consider when designing REST APIs. By default, API Gateway allows for up to 10,000 requests per second. You should use the built in Amazon CloudWatch metrics to review how your API is being used. The Count metric in particular can help you review the total number of API requests in a given period.

It’s important to understand the actual request rate that your architecture is capable of supporting. For example, consider this architecture:

REST API 1

This API accepts GET requests to retrieve a user’s cart by using a Lambda function to perform SQL queries against a relational database managed in RDS.  If you receive a large burst of traffic, both API Gateway and Lambda will scale in response to the traffic. However, relational databases typically have limited memory/cpu capacity and will quickly exhaust the total number of connections.

As an API architect, you should design your APIs to protect your down stream applications.  You can start by defining API Keys and requiring your clients to deliver a key with incoming requests. This lets you track each application or client who is consuming your API.  This also lets you create Usage Plans and throttle your clients according to the plan you define.  For example, you if you know your architecture is capable of of sustaining 200 requests per second, you should define a Usage plan that sets a rate of 200 RPS and optionally configure a quota to allow a certain number of requests by day, week, or month.

Additionally, API Gateway lets you define throttling settings for the whole stage or per method. If you know that a GET operation is less resource intensive than a POST operation you can override the stage settings and set different throttling settings for each resource.

Integrations and Design patterns

The example above describes a synchronous, tightly coupled architecture where the request must wait for a response from the backend integration (RDS in this case). This results in system scaling characteristics that are the lowest common denominator of all components. Instead, you should look for opportunities to design an asynchronous, loosely coupled architecture. A decoupled architecture separates the data ingestion from the data processing and allows you to scale each system separately. Consider this new architecture:

REST API 2

This architecture enables ingestion of orders directly into a highly scalable and durable data store such as Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS).  Your backend can process these orders at any speed that is suitable for your business requirements and system ability.  Most importantly,  the health of the backend processing system does not impact your ability to continue accepting orders.

Security

Security with API Gateway falls into three major buckets, and I’ll outline them below. Remember, you should enable all three options to combine multiple layers of security.

Option 1 (Application Firewall)

You can enable AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF) for your entire API. WAF will inspect all incoming requests and block requests that fail your inspection rules. For example, WAF can inspect requests for SQL Injection, Cross Site Scripting, or whitelisted IP addresses.

Option 2 (Resource Policy)

You can apply a Resource Policy that protects your entire API. This is an IAM policy that is applied to your API and you can use this to white/black list client IP ranges or allow AWS accounts and AWS principals to access your API.

Option 3 (AuthZ)

  1. IAM:This AuthZ option requires clients to sign requests with the AWS v4 signing process. The associated IAM role or user must have permissions to perform the execute-api:Invoke action against the API.
  2. Cognito: This AuthZ option requires clients to login into Cognito and then pass the returned ID or Access JWT token in the Authentication header.
  3. Lambda Auth: This AuthZ option is the most flexible and lets you execute a Lambda function to perform any custom auth strategy needed. A common use case for this is OpenID Connect.

A Couple of Tips

Tip #1: Use Stage variables to avoid hard coding your backend Lambda and HTTP integrations. For example, you probably have multiple stages such as “QA” and “PROD” or “V1” and “V2.” You can define the same variable in each stage and specify different values. For example, you might an API that executes a Lambda function. In each stage, define the same variable called functionArn. You can reference this variable as your Lambda ARN during your integration configuration using this notation: ${stageVariables.functionArn}. API Gateway will inject the corresponding value for the stage dynamically at runtime, allowing you to execute different Lambda functions by stage.

Tip #2: Use Path and Query variables to inject dynamic values into your HTTP integrations. For example, your cart API may define a userId Path variable that is used to lookup a user’s cart: /cart/profile/{userId}. You can inject this variable directly into your backend HTTP integration URL settings like this: http://myapi.someds.com/cart/profile/{userId}

Summary

This post covered strategies you should use to ensure your REST API architectures are scalable and easy to maintain.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and our next post will cover GraphQL API architectures with AWS AppSync.

About the Author

George MaoGeorge Mao is a Specialist Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services, focused on the Serverless platform. George is responsible for helping customers design and operate Serverless applications using services like Lambda, API Gateway, Cognito, and DynamoDB. He is a regular speaker at AWS Summits, re:Invent, and various tech events. George is a software engineer and enjoys contributing to open source projects, delivering technical presentations at technology events, and working with customers to design their applications in the Cloud. George holds a Bachelor of Computer Science and Masters of IT from Virginia Tech.

from AWS Architecture Blog

Architecture Monthly Magazine for July: Machine Learning

Architecture Monthly Magazine for July: Machine Learning

Every month, AWS publishes the AWS Architecture Monthly Magazine (available for free on Kindle and Flipboard) that curates some of the best technical and video content from around AWS.

In the June edition, we offered several pieces of content related to Internet of Things (IoT). This month we’re talking about artificial intelligence (AI), namely machine learning.

Machine Learning: Let’s Get it Started

Alan Turing, the British mathematician whose life and work was documented in the movie The Imitation Game, was a pioneer of theoretical computer science and AI. He was the first to put forth the idea that machines can think.

Jump ahead 80 years to this month when researchers asked four-time World Poker Tour title holder Darren Elias to play Texas Hold’em with Pluribus, a poker-playing bot (actually, five of these bots were at the table). Pluribus learns by playing against itself over and over and remembering which strategies worked best. The bot became world-class-level poker player in a matter of days. Read about it in the journal Science.

If AI is making a machine more human, AI’s subset, machine learning, involves the techniques that allow these machines to make sense of the data we feed them. Machine learning is mimicking how humans learn, and Pluribus is actually learning from itself.

From self-driving cars, medical diagnostics, and facial recognition to our helpful (and sometimes nosy) pals Siri, Alexa, and Cortana, all these smart machines are constantly improving from the moment we unbox them. We humans are teaching the machines to think like us.

For July’s magazine, we assembled architectural best practices about machine learning from all over AWS, and we’ve made sure that a broad audience can appreciate it.

  • Interview: Mahendra Bairagi, Solutions Architect, Artificial Intelligence
  • Training: Getting in the Voice Mindset
  • Quick Start: Predictive Data Science with Amazon SageMaker and a Data Lake on AWS
  • Blog post: Amazon SageMaker Neo Helps Detect Objects and Classify Images on Edge Devices
  • Solution: Fraud Detection Using Machine Learning
  • Video: Viz.ai Uses Deep Learning to Analyze CT Scans and Save Lives
  • Whitepaper: Power Machine Learning at Scale

We hope you find this edition of Architecture Monthly useful, and we’d like your feedback. Please give us a star rating and your comments on Amazon. You can also reach out to [email protected] anytime. Check back in a month to discover what the August magazine will offer.

from AWS Architecture Blog

How to Architect APIs for Scale and Security

How to Architect APIs for Scale and Security

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our posts on best practices for your serverless applications. This series of posts will focus on best practices and concepts you should be familiar with when you architect APIs for your applications. We’ll kick this first post off with a comparison between REST and GraphQL API architectures.

Introduction

Developers have been creating RESTful APIs for a long time, typically using HTTP methods, such as GET, POST, DELETE to perform operations against the API. Amazon API Gateway is designed to make it easy for developers to create APIs at any scale without managing any servers. API Gateway will handle all of the heavy lifting needed including traffic management, security, monitoring, and version/environment management.

GraphQL APIs are relatively new, with a primary design goal of allowing clients to define the structure of the data that they require. AWS AppSync allows you to create flexible APIs that access and combine multiple data sources.

REST APIs

Architecting a REST API is structured around creating combinations of resources and methods.  Resources are paths  that are present in the request URL and methods are HTTP actions that you take against the resource. For example, you may define a resource called “cart”: http://myapi.somecompany.com/cart. The cart resource can respond to HTTP POSTs for adding items to a shopping cart or HTTP GETs for retrieving the items in your cart. With API Gateway, you would implement the API like this:

Behind the scenes, you can integrate with nearly any backend to provide the compute logic, data persistence, or business work flows.  For example, you can configure an AWS Lambda function to perform the addition of an item to a shopping cart (HTTP POST).  You can also use API Gateway to directly interact with AWS services like Amazon DynamoDB.  An example is using API Gateway to retrieve items in a cart from DynamoDB (HTTP GET).

RESTful APIs tend to use Path and Query parameters to inject dynamic values into APIs. For example, if you want to retreive a specific cart with an id of abcd123, you could design the API to accept a query or path parameter that specifies the cartID:

/cart?cartId=abcd123 or /cart/abcd123

Finally, when you need to add functionality to your API, the typical approach would be to add additional resources.  For example, to add a checkout function, you could add a resource called /cart/checkout.

GraphQL APIs

Architecting GraphQL APIs is not structured around resources and HTTP verbs, instead you define your data types and configure where the operations will retrieve data through a resolver. An operation is either a query or a mutation. Queries simply retrieve data while mutations are used when you want to modify data. If we use the same example from above, you could define a cart data type as follows:

type Cart {

  cartId: ID!

  customerId: String

  name: String

  email: String

  items: [String]

}

Next, you configure the fields in the Cart to map to specific data sources. AppSync is then responsible for executing resolvers to obtain appropriate information. Your client will send a HTTP POST to the AppSync endpoint with the exact shape of the data they require. AppSync is responsible for executing all configured resolvers to obtain the requested data and return a single response to the client.

Rest API

With GraphQL, the client can change their query to specify the exact data that is needed. The above example shows two queries that ask for different sets of information. The first getCart query asks for all of the static customer (customerId, name, email) and a list of items in the cart. The second query just asks for the customer’s static information. Based on the incoming query, AppSync will execute the correct resolver(s) to obtain the data. The client submits the payload via a HTTP POST to the same endpoint in both cases. The payload of the POST body is the only thing that changes.

As we saw above, a REST based implementation would require the API to define multiple HTTP resources and methods or path/query parameters to accomplish this.

AppSync also provides other powerful features that are not possible with REST APIs such as real-time data synchronization and multiple methods of authentication at the field and operation level.

Summary

As you can see, these are two different approaches to architecting your API. In our next few posts, we’ll cover specific features and architecture details you should be aware of when choosing between API Gateway (REST) and AppSync (GraphQL) APIs. In the meantime, you can read more about working with API Gateway and Appsync.

About the Author

George MaoGeorge Mao is a Specialist Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services, focused on the Serverless platform. George is responsible for helping customers design and operate Serverless applications using services like Lambda, API Gateway, Cognito, and DynamoDB. He is a regular speaker at AWS Summits, re:Invent, and various tech events. George is a software engineer and enjoys contributing to open source projects, delivering technical presentations at technology events, and working with customers to design their applications in the Cloud. George holds a Bachelor of Computer Science and Masters of IT from Virginia Tech.

from AWS Architecture Blog

Ten Things Serverless Architects Should Know

Ten Things Serverless Architects Should Know

Building on the first three parts of the AWS Lambda scaling and best practices series where you learned how to design serverless apps for massive scale, AWS Lambda’s different invocation models, and best practices for developing with AWS Lambda, we now invite you to take your serverless knowledge to the next level by reviewing the following 10 topics to deepen your serverless skills.

1: API and Microservices Design

With the move to microservices-based architectures, decomposing monothlic applications and de-coupling dependencies is more important than ever. Learn more about how to design and deploy your microservices with Amazon API Gateway:

Get hands-on experience building out a serverless API with API Gateway, AWS Lambda, and Amazon DynamoDB powering a serverless web application by completing the self-paced Wild Rydes web application workshop.

Figure 1: WildRydes serverless web application workshop

2: Event-driven Architectures and Asynchronous Messaging Patterns

When building event-driven architectures, whether you’re looking for simple queueing and message buffering or a more intricate event-based choreography pattern, it’s valuable to learn about the mechanisms to enable asynchronous messaging and integration. These are enabled primarily through the use of queues or streams as a message buffer and topics for pub/sub messaging. Understand when to use each and the unique advantages and features of all three:

Gets hands-on experience building a real-time data processing application using Amazon Kinesis Data Streams and AWS Lambda by completing the self-paced Wild Rydes data processing workshop.

3: Workflow Orchestration in a Distributed, Microservices Environment

In distributed microservices architectures, you must design coordinated transactions in different ways than traditional database-based ACID transactions, which are typically implemented using a monolithic relational database. Instead, you must implement coordinated sequenced invocations across services along with rollback and retry mechanisms. For workloads where there a significant orchestration logic is required and you want to use more of an orchestrator pattern than the event choreography pattern mentioned above, AWS Step Functions enables the building complex workflows and distributed transactions through integration with a variety of AWS services, including AWS Lambda. Learn about the options you have to build your business workflows and keep orchestration logic out of your AWS Lambda code:

Get hands-on experience building an image processing workflow using computer vision AI services with AWS Rekognition and AWS Step Functions to orchestrate all logic and steps with the self-paced Serverless image processing workflow workshop.

Figure 2: Several AWS Lambda functions managed by an AWS Step Functions state machine

4: Lambda Computing Environment and Programming Model

Though AWS Lambda is a service that is quick to get started, there is value in learning more about the AWS Lambda computing environment and how to take advantage of deeper performance and cost optimization strategies with the AWS Lambda runtime. Take your understanding and skills of AWS Lambda to the next level:

5: Serverless Deployment Automation and CI/CD Patterns

When dealing with a large number of microservices or smaller components—such as AWS Lambda functions all working together as part of a broader application—it’s critical to integrate automation and code management into your application early on to efficiently create, deploy, and version your serverless architectures. AWS offers several first-party deployment tools and frameworks for Serverless architectures, including the AWS Serverless Application Model (SAM), the AWS Cloud Development Kit (CDK), AWS Amplify, and AWS Chalice. Additionally, there are several third party deployment tools and frameworks available, such as the Serverless Framework, Claudia.js, Sparta, or Zappa. You can also build your own custom-built homegrown framework. The important thing is to ensure your automation strategy works for your use case and team, and supports your planned data source integrations and development workflow. Learn more about the available options:

Learn how to build a full CI/CD pipeline and other DevOps deployment automation with the following workshops:

6: Serverless Identity Management, Authentication, and Authorization

Modern application developers need to plan for and integrate identity management into their applications while implementing robust authentication and authorization functionality. With Amazon Cognito, you can deploy serverless identity management and secure sign-up and sign-in directly into your applications. Beyond authentication, Amazon API Gateway also allows developers to granularly manage authorization logic at the gateway layer and authorize requests directly, without exposing their using several types of native authorization.

Learn more about the options and benefits of each:

Get hands-on experience working with Amazon Cognito, AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), and Amazon API Gateway with the Serverless Identity Management, Authentication, and Authorization Workshop.

Figure 3: Serverless Identity Management, Authentication, and Authorization Workshop

7: End-to-End Security Techniques

Beyond identity and authentication/authorization, there are many other areas to secure in a serverless application. These include:

  • Input and request validation
  • Dependency and vulnerability management
  • Secure secrets storage and retrieval
  • IAM execution roles and invocation policies
  • Data encryption at-rest/in-transit
  • Metering and throttling access
  • Regulatory compliance concerns

Thankfully, there are AWS offerings and integrations for each of these areas. Learn more about the options and benefits of each:

Get hands-on experience adding end-to-end security with the techniques mentioned above into a serverless application with the Serverless Security Workshop.

8: Application Observability with Comprehensive Logging, Metrics, and Tracing

Before taking your application to production, it’s critical that you ensure your application is fully observable, both at a microservice or component level, as well as overall through comprehensive logging, metrics at various granularity, and tracing to understand distributed system performance and end user experiences end-to-end. With many different components making up modern architectures, having centralized visibility into all of your key logs, metrics, and end-to-end traces will make it much easier to monitor and understand your end users’ experiences. Learn more about the options for observability of your AWS serverless application:

9. Ensuring Your Application is Well-Architected

Adding onto the considerations mentioned above, we suggest architecting your applications more holistically to the AWS Well-Architected framework. This framework includes the five key pillars: security, reliability, performance efficiency, cost optimization, and operational excellence. Additionally, there is a serverless-specific lens to the Well-Architected framework, which more specifically looks at key serverless scenarios/use cases such as RESTful microservices, Alexa skills, mobile backends, stream processing, and web applications, and how they can implement best practices to be Well-Architected. More information:

10. Continuing your Learning as Serverless Computing Continues to Evolve

As we’ve discussed, there are many opportunities to dive deeper into serverless architectures in a variety of areas. Though the resources shared above should be helpful in familiarizing yourself with key concepts and techniques, there’s nothing better than continued learning from others over time as new advancements come out and patterns evolve.

Finally, we encourage you to check back often as we’ll be continuing further blog post series on serverless architectures, with the next series focusing on API design patterns and best practices.

About the author

Justin PritleJustin Pirtle is a specialist Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services, focused on the Serverless platform. He’s responsible for helping customers design, deploy, and scale serverless applications using services such as AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway, Amazon Cognito, and Amazon DynamoDB. He is a regular speaker at AWS conferences, including re:Invent, as well as other AWS events. Justin holds a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in Software Engineering from Seattle University.

from AWS Architecture Blog

Intuit: Serving Millions of Global Customers with Amazon Connect

Intuit: Serving Millions of Global Customers with Amazon Connect

Recently, Bill Schuller, Intuit Contact Center Domain Architect met with AWS’s Simon Elisha to discuss how Intuit manages its customer contact centers with AWS Connect.

As a 35-year-old company with an international customer base, Intuit is widely known as the maker of Quick Books and Turbo Tax, among other software products. Its 50 million customers can access its global contact centers not just for password resets and feature explanations, but for detailed tax interpretation and advice. As you can imagine, this presents a challenge of scale.

Using Amazon Connect, a self-service, cloud-based contact center service, Intuit has been able to provide a seamless call-in experience to Intuit customers from around the globe. When a customer calls in to Amazon Connect, Intuit is able to do a “data dip” through AWS Lambda out to the company’s CRM system (in this case, SalesForce) in order to get more information from the customer. At this point, Intuit can leverage other services like Amazon Lex for national language feedback and then get the customer to the right person who can help. When the call is over, instead of having that important recording of the call locked up in a proprietary system, the audio is moved into an S3 bucket, where Intuit can do some post-call processing. It can also be sent it out to third parties for analysis, or Intuit can use Amazon Transcribe or Amazon Comprehend to get a transcription or sentiment analysis to understand more about what happened during that particular call.

Watch the video below to understand the reasons why Intuit decided on this set of AWS services (hint: it has to do with the ability to experiment with speed and scale but without the cost overhead).

*Check out more This Is My Architecture video series.

About the author

Annik StahlAnnik Stahl is a Senior Program Manager in AWS, specializing in blog and magazine content as well as customer ratings and satisfaction. Having been the face of Microsoft Office for 10 years as the Crabby Office Lady columnist, she loves getting to know her customers and wants to hear from you.

from AWS Architecture Blog

Best Practices for Developing on AWS Lambda

Best Practices for Developing on AWS Lambda

In our previous post we discussed the various ways you can invoke AWS Lambda functions. In this post, we’ll provide some tips and best practices you can use when building your AWS Lambda functions.

One of the benefits of using Lambda, is that you don’t have to worry about server and infrastructure management. This means AWS will handle the heavy lifting needed to execute your Lambda functions. You should take advantage of this architecture with the tips below.

Tip #1: When to VPC-Enable a Lambda Function

Lambda functions always operate from an AWS-owned VPC. By default, your function has full ability to make network requests to any public internet address — this includes access to any of the public AWS APIs. For example, your function can interact with AWS DynamoDB APIs to PutItem or Query for records. You should only enable your functions for VPC access when you need to interact with a private resource located in a private subnet. An RDS instance is a good example.

RDS instance: When to VPC enable a Lambda function

Once your function is VPC-enabled, all network traffic from your function is subject to the routing rules of your VPC/Subnet. If your function needs to interact with a public resource, you will need a route through a NAT gateway in a public subnet.

Tip #2: Deploy Common Code to a Lambda Layer (i.e. the AWS SDK)

If you intend to reuse code in more than one function, consider creating a Layer and deploying it there. A great candidate would be a logging package that your team is required to standardize on. Another great example is the AWS SDK. AWS will include the AWS SDK for NodeJS and Python functions (and update the SDK periodically). However, you should bundle your own SDK and pin your functions to a version of the SDK you have tested.

Tip #3: Watch Your Package Size and Dependencies

Lambda functions require you to package all needed dependencies (or attach a Layer) — the bigger your deployment package, the slower your function will cold-start. Remove all unnecessary items, such as documentation and unused libraries. If you are using Java functions with the AWS SDK, only bundle the module(s) that you actually need to use — not the entire SDK.

Good:

<dependency>
    <groupId>software.amazon.awssdk</groupId>
    <artifactId>dynamodb</artifactId>
    <version>2.6.0</version>
</dependency>

Bad:

<!-- https://mvnrepository.com/artifact/software.amazon.awssdk/aws-sdk-java -->
<dependency>
    <groupId>software.amazon.awssdk</groupId>
    <artifactId>aws-sdk-java</artifactId>
    <version>2.6.0</version>
</dependency>

Tip #4: Monitor Your Concurrency (and Set Alarms)

Our first post in this series talked about how concurrency can effect your down stream systems. Since Lambda functions can scale extremely quickly, this means you should have controls in place to notify you when you have a spike in concurrency. A good idea is to deploy a CloudWatch Alarm that notifies your team when function metrics such as ConcurrentExecutions or Invocations exceeds your threshold. You should create an AWS Budget so you can monitor costs on a daily basis. Here is a great example of how to set up automated cost controls.

Tip #5: Over-Provision Memory (in some use cases) but Not Function Timeout

Lambda allocates compute power in proportion to the memory you allocate to your function. This means you can over provision memory to run your functions faster and potentially reduce your costs. You should benchmark your use case to determine where the breakeven point is for running faster and using more memory vs running slower and using less memory.

However, we recommend you do not over provision your function time out settings. Always understand your code performance and set a function time out accordingly. Overprovisioning function timeout often results in Lambda functions running longer than expected and unexpected costs.

About the Author

George MaoGeorge Mao is a Specialist Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services, focused on the Serverless platform. George is responsible for helping customers design and operate Serverless applications using services like Lambda, API Gateway, Cognito, and DynamoDB. He is a regular speaker at AWS Summits, re:Invent, and various tech events. George is a software engineer and enjoys contributing to open source projects, delivering technical presentations at technology events, and working with customers to design their applications in the Cloud. George holds a Bachelor of Computer Science and Masters of IT from Virginia Tech.

from AWS Architecture Blog