Exploring AWS Serverless API Development Amazon API Gateway vs. Lambda Function URLs
Nov 22, 2023 7 min read

Exploring AWS Serverless API Development Amazon API Gateway vs. Lambda Function URLs

In today’s developing world of cloud computing and serverless architecture, Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers multiple services and tools to suffice your every project need. Among these powerful services, there are two key services when it comes to building scalable and efficient serverless APIs: Amazon API Gateway and AWS Lambda Function URLs.

Both of these services have their advantages and disadvantages over the other. The big question is how to make this choice effectively. In this article, we’re going to dive deep into the strengths and capabilities of Amazon API Gateway and AWS Lambda Function URLs. Our goal is to help you choose the service that aligns perfectly with your development goals.

Exploring Amazon API Gateway

Amazon API Gateway is a fully managed service and one of the popular services in AWS’s serverless offerings. It offers various features to publish, maintain, monitor, and secure APIs at any scale. It is often the default choice for many developers because it provides features tailored to simplify API development. It takes care of creating API endpoints, securing routes, and offers monitoring, along with other useful API management features.

Amazon API Gateway offers support for 3 API types.

  • HTTP API
  • REST API
  • Websocket API

Amazon API Gateway endpoints have the following format:

https://<api-id>.execute-api.<region>.amazonaws.com/<stage>/<path>

Key features of Amazon API Gateway include:

API Management: Amazon API Gateway simplifies the creation, deployment, and management of APIs. It offers useful features such as request/response transformation, rate limiting, and API documentation.

Authentication and Authorization: Amazon API Gateway provides built-in tools to support secure API access, including API Keys, IAM, Cognito User Pool and custom authorizer integrations.

Rate-Limiting: API Gateway includes a rate limiting feature that allows you to control the number of requests made to your APIs within specified time intervals. This feature helps protect your APIs from abuse, prevents overutilization of your resources, and maintains a high-quality experience for your users.

API Monitoring and Logging : Amazon API Gateway seamlessly integrates with AWS CloudWatch, enabling you to capture and store metrics and logs related to API usage and performance. CloudWatch also offers real-time monitoring of your APIs, allowing you to set up alarms and notifications based on specific metric thresholds.

Ease of Use: It provides a user-friendly interface that enables you to perform all the tasks mentioned above from a single, easy-to-navigate dashboard.

Apart from these key features, AWS API Gateway also provides support for custom domain names, request throttling, request body validation, caching among other features.

Deploying APIs Using Amazon API Gateway:

  1. Sign in to AWS → Log in to your AWS Management Console.

  2. Access Amazon API Gateway → Navigate to the API Gateway service.

  3. Create a New API → Click “Create API” and choose the type of API you need (HTTP, REST, or Websocket).

  4. Design Your API → Define your API’s name, configure routes, stages, and Review and Create.

  5. Set Up Security → Configure authentication and authorization settings to secure your API.

  6. Deploy Your API → Deploy your API to get stage specific unique endpoint URL.

Exploring AWS Lambda Function URLs

AWS Lambda is a serverless compute service that enables you to run code without the need to provision or manage servers. AWS Lambda works on an event-driven model, allowing it to execute functions in response to various triggers, such as HTTP requests, file uploads, or database changes(streams).

The AWS Lambda console provides a lot of tools for managing Lambda development. One such tool is the Lambda Function URL.

A Lambda Function URL is a dedicated HTTP(S) endpoint for your Lambda function. When you create a function URL, AWS Lambda automatically generates a unique URL endpoint for you.

Lambda Function URLs offer something unique: the ability to connect Lambda functions directly via HTTP endpoints. This approach opens up significant possibilities, granting you the freedom to harness AWS Lambda’s event-driven capabilities within your APIs.

You can control access to your lambda function URL using AuthType parameter combined with resource-based policies.

Lambda Function URL AuthType options:

  • AWS_IAM: Consider this option if you want only authenticated users and roles to invoke your function via the Lambda Function URL.
  • NONE: Choose this option to allow public, unauthenticated access to your Lambda Function URL.

Function URL endpoints have the following format:

https://<url-id>.lambda-url.<region>.on.aws

Key features of AWS Lambda Function URL include:

Dedicated HTTP(S) endpoint: Lambda Function URLs provide a dedicated endpoint for your Lambda function. This allows you to set up an HTTP endpoint for your lambda function very easily and quickly.

Security access : Lambda Function URLs use resource based policies for security and access control.

CORS Support: Lambda Function URLs also support cross-origin resource sharing (CORS) configuration options.

Deploy AWS Lambda Function URL:

  1. Sign in to AWS→ Log in to your AWS Management Console.

  2. Access AWS Lambda→ Go to the Lambda service.

  3. Create a Lambda Function→ Click “Create function” and define your function, including its runtime and triggers.

  4. Configure Function URL: → Under Configuration → Function URL, Set up the Auth Type and advanced settings to enable Function URL for your Lambda Function.

  5. Deploy Your Function→ Once configured, AWS Lambda will automatically generate a dedicated HTTP(S) endpoint URL.

Choosing Between Amazon API Gateway and Lambda Function URLs: Scenarios to Consider:

Handling Longer Processing Times:

Sometimes, your serverless tasks might need more than Amazon API Gateway’s standard 29-second response timeout limit. Lambda Function URLs offer flexibility, supporting tasks that require up to 15 minutes for completion. This is particularly handy for data-intensive operations or lengthy batch jobs.

Prioritising Security and Authentication:

When you’re looking for robust security and authentication options, Amazon API Gateway is the way to go. It offers IAM, API keys, Cognito User Pools, and custom authorizers. In contrast, Lambda Function URLs primarily rely on resource-based policies. If your project places a high priority on security and needs a variety of authentication methods, Amazon API Gateway is your choice.

Cost-Effective Decisions:

Carefully assess your budget. Amazon API Gateway charges are based on API calls and data transfer, which can add up for high-traffic APIs. Lambda Function URLs, on the other hand, follow a pay-as-you-go model, taking into account requests and execution time. They can save costs for applications with fluctuating workloads. Make a cost-effective decision based on your project’s specific financial considerations.

Versatility in Integrations

Assess your project’s integration requirements. Amazon API Gateway offers versatile integration capabilities, allowing connections with a wide range of services, both internal and external. In contrast, Lambda Function URLs are primarily designed for integrating with Lambda functions. If your project demands diverse integrations, Amazon API Gateway’s flexibility might be better suited to your needs.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers two powerful tools for creating serverless APIs: Amazon API Gateway and AWS Lambda Function URLs.

Amazon API Gateway tops in API management, security, and its ability to seamlessly integrate with a wide variety of services. It’s the top pick for those seeking robust API control and comprehensive security.

AWS Lambda Function URLs, on the other hand, provide dedicated HTTP(S) endpoints tailored for Lambda functions. They offer exceptional flexibility to leverage AWS Lambda’s event-driven capabilities within your APIs.

The right choice depends on your project’s specific needs. If you require extensive API management and security, Amazon API Gateway is your answer. If your focus is harnessing AWS Lambda’s event-driven power effectively, Lambda Function URLs are the way forward.

Ultimately, your selection should harmonise with your project’s specific requirements, whether it’s managing extended processing times, emphasising security, controlling costs, or accommodating diverse integrations.

This article helps you choose the right AWS API tool for your project. Happy coding!

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