Turn AWS Lambda Functions Stateful with Amazon Elastic File System

Turn AWS Lambda Functions Stateful with Amazon Elastic File System

Turn AWS Lambda Functions Stateful with Amazon Elastic File System. What Is Amazon EFS? When an Amazon EFS file system is attached to an AWS Lambda function, it can access existing data and store data in it. Part 1: Get to know Amazon EFS.

Amazon Web Services’ Lambda is one of the first serverless platforms in the industry. Since its launch in 2014, Amazon has added multiple features to make it the most mature Functions as a Service (FaaS). The platform supports various language runtimes, including Node.js, Python, Java, Ruby, C#, Go, and PowerShell. There is tight integration with mainstream AWS managed services that act as event sources to trigger Lambda functions.

Traditionally, serverless compute platforms and FaaS offerings such as AWS Lambda are associated with stateless functions. Since the functions are invoked and terminated based on events, there is no intrinsic persistence layer available. The state is always externalized by moving it to object storage, NoSQL database, in-memory database, or a relational database instance. It’s common to maintain state in Lambda functions by writing it to an object in an S3 bucket or a DynamoDB or RDS table.

But certain use cases such as machine learning inference demand a new approach. Downloading a large model from an Amazon S3 bucket increases the startup time, which results in latency. Some functions require external libraries that may be too large. Though AWS Lambda Layers’ concept addresses this problem, there is a limitation of 50MB (zipped, for direct upload), which defeats the purpose. Layers are static once they are deployed, which means the contents can be changed only by deploying a new layer.

In June 2020, AWS has added support for Amazon Elastic File System (EFS) for Lambda, enabling many exciting use cases.

This tutorial series covers all the aspects of using Amazon EFS with AWS Lambda to host the serverless machine learning API.

What Is Amazon EFS?

Amazon Elastic File System (EFS) provides a managed elastic NFS file system for AWS services and on-premises resources. It can scale to petabytes without disrupting applications, growing and shrinking automatically as the files or added and removed, eliminating the need to provision and manage capacity to accommodate growth.

Since EFS uses NFS v4, the industry standard for the shared file system, the file system can be easily attached to EC2 instances running Linux.

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