AWS Lambda function with SQS as an event trigger

AWS Lambda can now be invoked directly from SQS

While quietly perusing Twitter this evening, I happened to notice one from the official AWS account with a link to a blog post from Amazon tech hero Randall Hunt describing the newly available capability for AWS Lambda: SQS as an event source!

This is functionality that I, personally, have been wanting for a while now.  While Simple Notification Service (SNS) is absolutely brilliant for a fan-out architecture, and provides immense flexibility with a wide range of supported subscriber types, controlled, serverless polling of SQS wasn’t really a viable option.  While you *could* run a Lambda for a few minutes doing long-polling on SQS, and then terminate before exhausting the 5-minute execution duration cap, it really felt a bit dirty.  To properly implement a queue-polling architecture, you really had to deploy an application on EC2, which meant managing servers etc.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course, it just seemed like there was a big glaring hole in the Serverless model.

Native SQS to Lambda event integration though really patches this omission and then some.  Randall’s blog post explains it in full, but it seems like Amazon have implemented some really nice intelligent scaling mechanisms to adjust Lambda concurrency (up to a defined limit) in response to queue depth.  This should really help constrain costs and ensure consistent throughput regardless of spiky traffic.

I’ve not yet had a chance to observe this in the wild though, so best tested for your workload before betting the farm on it, but this looks like yet another long-awaited piece of functionality that Amazon have knocked out the park.  Have you explored SQS as an event source for Lambda yet?  Any observations or gotchas so far?  Let me know in the comments below!

SQS vs SNS for Lambda Dead Letter Queues

Serverless computing and event-driven functions are what it’s all about at the moment.  But what happens when the event trigger fires, and your process then encounters an error?  How do you recover from this given the event has since passed and may never happen again?  This is a common question in AWS when working with their serverless, event-driven Lambda Functions.

Fortunately, AWS lets you define Dead Letter Queues for this very scenario.  This option allows you to designate either an SQS queue or SNS topic as a DLQ, meaning that when your Lambda function fails it will push the incoming event message (and some additional context) onto the specified resource.  If it’s SNS you can send out alerts or trigger other services (maybe even a retry of the same function – although watch out for infinite loops), or any combination of the above, given its fanout nature.  If it’s SQS you can persist the message and process it with another service.

So let’s look at both options in a little more detail. Continue reading “SQS vs SNS for Lambda Dead Letter Queues” »

A "spectrum_enable_enhanced_vpc_routing" parameter has appeared in Redshift.

Is AWS about to enable Redshift Spectrum with Enhanced VPC Routing?

AWS is knocking it out of the park at the moment with loads of new services and features coming out every week.  Indeed, it can be hard to keep up with the degree of change.  But, while working on one of our Redshift clusters today we spotted a potential scoop that would remove a key blocker for one extremely useful service, Redshift Spectrum.

Up until now it’s only been possible to use Spectrum if you don’t have Enhanced VPC Routing enabled on your Redshift cluster.  There are so many benefits to using Enhanced VPC Routing (reduced data transfer cost, control, security) that it’s hard to see why anyone wouldn’t be using it, especially if you move data between Redshift and S3 a lot.

But we spotted a new parameter being applied to one of our clusters when we made some maintenance changes to a parameter group.  There’s now a parameter named spectrum_enable_enhanced_vpc_routing showing, which hints that Amazon may be about to remove this crucial limitation.


Continue reading “Is AWS about to enable Redshift Spectrum with Enhanced VPC Routing?” »

Power BI iOS app

Impressions of Microsoft’s new-look Power BI

A couple of months ago, Microsoft’s new-look Power BI Preview rolled out globally.  Ditching the Office 365/Sharepoint Online requirement, the new Power BI is a streamlined, simplified version of the product that attempts to lose some of the bloat and give users a focussed, easy-to-use, self-service BI platform.

So has it worked?

Continue reading “Impressions of Microsoft’s new-look Power BI” »

Data Quality Services SSIS component error

Debugging Errors in SSIS Data Quality Services Cleansing Component

As part of Microsoft’s push to include business users in the Business Intelligence space, the addition of Data Quality Services to SQL Server’s feature set opened up the ETL process to the people who, arguably, know the data best.  Integration with SSIS was a great move, meaning that this user control extends to automated processes, further closing the gap between data and the business.

However, like most new components, Data Quality Services has some teething problems, and these can be quite hard to find when debugging your SSIS packages.  Here’s a quick tip that should help solve some of those tricky to find DQS issues. Continue reading “Debugging Errors in SSIS Data Quality Services Cleansing Component” »