Can AWS Utility Composer enable you save time on designing serverless apps?

The AWS surroundings is as highly effective as it’s advanced. It permits you to run extremely environment friendly serverless purposes with out a hitch and having to fret concerning the infrastructure – however you’ve acquired to configure it first. If solely the barrier-to-entry was decrease! If solely there was some sort of software that one may use to get by earlier than you actually wrap your head round all of it! Oh wait, there may be one – it’s the AWS Utility Composer! Or is it?

As massive followers of cloud options, we all the time maintain tabs on the most recent developments within the AWS ecosystem. One of many very newest is a software referred to as AWS Utility Composer.

So let’s take a more in-depth have a look at Amazon’s newest try at making the AWS surroundings simpler to navigate. On this article, you’ll discover out:

  • How AWS Utility Composer makes it simpler to design serverless apps, full with sensible workout routines.
  • The place is its place within the wealthy ecosystem of AWS applied sciences.
  • Whether it is highly effective sufficient to make use of in business initiatives and has the potential to generate significant manufacturing time and value financial savings.

Let’s get began.

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AWS Utility composer overview – what’s it actually about?

However earlier than we get to that, we’d like to ensure we’re all on the identical web page relating to serverless purposes.

The fundamentals – serverless apps and AWS

Serverless purposes are software program constructed or run on cloud computing platforms, similar to AWS or GCP. The serverless time period refers to the truth that the cloud supplier manages the underlying infrastructure and servers required to run the appliance. It implies that builders can give attention to writing the code for the appliance moderately than determining the way to run it.

AWS Utility Composer is a low-code web-based software that helps customers to compose and configure AWS serverless purposes utilizing pre-built elements. The composer streamlines the infrastructure-building course of by offering an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface for connecting the assorted AWS providers that make up a serverless software.

Talking of providers, it will be helpful to outline the AWS software composer’s place among the many many AWS serverless-related choices extra exactly.

The app composer and its place within the AWS surroundings

AWS affords numerous AWS serverless providers similar to:

It’s a serverless computing service that allows you to run code with out provisioning or managing servers. You may deploy the code as a .zip file or container picture. AWS Lambda Operate may be hooked up to particular occasions, similar to a cron scheduler or HTTP request, and can mechanically reply to them.

AWS Step Features (or AWS SFN) is a service that permits you to construct automated processes, orchestrate microservices or create machine studying pipelines. It connects with different providers, together with the AWS Lambda Features. AWS SFN gives a Workflow Studio – a easy drag-and-drop interface that helps to design workflows rapidly.

Amazon DynamoDB is a serverless, key-value NoSQL database. It affords built-in safety, steady backups, and the instruments to import or export knowledge.

AWS Utility Composer’s function is to assist builders overcome the difficulties of constructing serverless purposes on AWS. It does it in two methods:

  • By simplifying the method of configuring and integrating totally different AWS providers, which may be advanced and time-consuming.

The immense variety of AWS providers similar to Lambda, Step Features, or DynamoDB implies that the configuration has a excessive entry threshold and it takes a very long time to be taught the way it works and integrates. Not solely is AWS Utility Composer a great way to make it simpler, but it surely may also function a stop-gap measure for much less skilled AWS customers.

Just about everybody who makes use of AWS is aware of that the CloudFormation template used to outline AWS providers or the relations between them shouldn’t be the simplest software to make use of. The AWS Utility Composer makes utilizing it way more user-friendly. You don’t must hassle your self with how the CloudFormation seems, whether or not you made a typo someplace, or added the right indents. All of this might be generated by the Composer.

  • By making it simpler to arrange the infrastructure that meets challenge necessities.

Often, after we begin establishing a brand new challenge infrastructure, we cut up the method into two steps. The primary one is to design infrastructure visually, which helps us to see how providers join. It’s additionally a lot simpler to debate the setup among the many teammates that approach.

The subsequent step is to put in writing that infrastructure because the code. The AWS Utility Composer combines these steps into one – we design infrastructure visually and it mechanically generates the code.

Which means we should not have to know what precisely the IaaC (Infrastructure as a Code) seems like and write it ourselves. It accelerates establishing infrastructure, making the entire course of simpler for the builders.

What does the AWS Utility Composer precisely have to supply?

AWS Utility Composer options

AWS App Composer permits for placing collectively your infrastructure utilizing predefined elements. It combines numerous AWS providers, together with the aforementioned AWS Lambda, Amazon DynamoDB as a NoSQL Database service in addition to AWS S3 – a completely managed object storage service.

AWS Utility Composer permits for exporting infrastructure as a code (IaaC) as a CloudFormation template, which may be then consumed by different providers similar to AWS SAM.

App composer vs AWS SAM

AWS SAM (Serverless Utility Mannequin) is a framework for composing, constructing, and deploying serverless purposes on AWS. Though AWS SAM and Utility Composer have some similarities, as they each purpose to simplify the method of composing serverless purposes on AWS, they’re designed for various use instances.

Typically, AWS Utility Composer streamlines the creation of serverless infrastructure by working with a broad choice of AWS providers. With a centralized platform for constructing and configuring serverless apps, AWS Utility Composer simplifies the administration of the whole growth lifecycle for such purposes on AWS. This software can considerably scale back the complexity and energy required to construct and deploy serverless apps. AWS Utility Composer is thus a high-level software with the capability to generate IaaC that different instruments or providers can course of. AWS SAM is a type of instruments – it lets us deploy IaaC with code on to AWS to construct a whole software.

As you may see, we will mix each providers. AWS Utility Composer generates a CloudFormation. We will then use AWS SAM to course of that to create an IaaC configuration. This enhances the event expertise and makes the deployment course of straightforward.

Will low-code options actually change the best way we develop software program, offering productiveness advantages with out compromising on high quality? Will they put some builders out of jobs? Discover out our standpoint on low-code growth.

Who’s it for?

AWS Utility Composer is designed for builders, cloud architects, or individuals who want to begin their cloud journey and are about to deploy their first software on AWS.


In terms of builders, let’s be trustworthy, nearly all of them should not very skilled with DevOps practices. And there’s a great purpose for that – creating infrastructure is a troublesome and extremely specialised job, particularly if you wish to use the Infrastructure as a Code strategy. You must be taught Terraform or CloudFormation. You may additionally want AWS Cloud Improvement Package (CDK), which permits for writing infrastructure code in in style languages similar to TypeScript. Nonetheless, you could find out about particular varieties of infrastructure parts, varieties, choices, connections, and extra. That’s a whole lot of new stuff to be taught when all you need is to simply test issues out.

Cloud architects

If you’re a cloud architect, you wish to create providers to check your concepts rapidly. That’s what AWS Utility Composer can undoubtedly do. You may give attention to a problem-solution kind of design, omitting technical points of connecting providers at an early stage of cloud growth. 

Budding cloud practitioners

Since this group additionally lacks DevOps data, they are going to use the software very similar to builders do. AWS Utility Composer will encourage them to dabble in cloud growth. It could possibly considerably decrease the barrier-to-entry to the cloud. With AWS Utility Composer you may create providers and join them collectively with out having to dive deep into technical particulars.

On this case, Utility Composer is the right software for creating infrastructure. Simply drag and drop items of infrastructure, join, and voilà! You’ll obtain a ready-to-use CloudFormation template with configured providers.

Who’s it NOT for?

You shouldn’t for a second consider AWS Utility Composer as a golden hammer

On the time of writing, it’s nonetheless in public preview. It implies that it doesn’t have a whole lot of options. It solely gives fundamental elements and a really simplified configuration. Moreover, you gained’t have the ability to use it to create production-ready configurations. At this level, it’s actually solely ample for some demos and spikes.

Certainly, it could really feel very limiting for skilled DevOps engineers – those that wrote a whole lot of customized CloudFormation or terraform information. If you’re one, you would possibly get actually irate about how little you are able to do along with your configurations!

Let’s do some AWS app composer initiatives

If you’re nonetheless considering what the Utility Composer can do, let’s do some easy workout routines.

We’re going to supply the infrastructure for 2 separate initiatives.

Static web site deployment challenge

Static web sites are the fitting factor for people or companies who want a easy cost-effective on-line presence. These web sites are pre-built and served as-is to the person’s browser, so that they don’t require a backend server to course of and generate content material on the fly as dynamic web sites do.

AWS can host static web sites, offering a dependable and scalable possibility for deploying websites to the cloud. Through the use of providers similar to Amazon S3, customers can retailer and serve their static web site information.

Let’s create a brand new challenge with AWS Utility Composer.

In step one, you may select if you need to create a clean challenge or load an present one. You even have the choice to synchronize a challenge along with your native file.

Create a brand new AWS App Composer challenge

You might be able to construct an infrastructure. To host the static web site on the S3, you could configure that service – let’s drag it to the canvas.

Configuring S3

Clicking on the “Particulars” button on the chosen useful resource opens the right-side properties sidebar the place you may handle service choices.

Handle service choices in AWS Utility Composer

Let’s activate static web site internet hosting. Should you’d like, you may as well set the bucket logical id as nicely – it’ll be part of the bucket title. Checking “Activate static web site internet hosting” will show a brand new property that you could handle – a reference to the index doc. Let’s maintain the default one and save the modifications. 

Test Activate static web site internet hosting

Saving modifications will regenerate the IaaC template, which you would assessment within the “Template” tab or in your native template file (in case you’ve enabled the synchronization with native information). There’s not a whole lot of code – it’s solely an S3 bucket.

Now it’s time to deploy the infrastructure. Sadly, there’s no technique to push it instantly from the AWS Utility Composer. That is one thing that hurts rather a lot, particularly when you could show one thing that doesn’t want any code with logic. Which means you’re reliant on utilizing different instruments to show it. On this case, it’s going to be AWS SAM.

When the deployment is completed, you may test the infrastructure on AWS. Every little thing seems promising. The S3 bucket is created. It’s marked as a static web site with public entry allowed. Sadly, the coverage statements are lacking. What’s extra, the person will be unable to go to the location till you add it manually.

Discover lacking bucket coverage

To-do REST API challenge

With that have out of the best way, you may construct one thing extra advanced similar to REST API, which is one thing nearly each challenge wants.

AWS affords a number of providers to host REST API, together with Amazon API Gateway and AWS Lambda. Let’s check out these two.

With Amazon API Gateway, you should use RESTful structure to outline endpoints that can deal with HTTP requests and direct them to the suitable AWS Lambda capabilities for processing. The results of the lambda perform is then returned to the consumer.

AWS Lambda lets builders deploy and execute code based mostly on particular triggers similar to scheduled duties or HTTP occasions. It helps just a few programming languages – JavaScript (Node.js) and Python amongst others. Since it’s a serverless service, there isn’t a want to fret about managing servers or infrastructure.

Aside from exposing REST API and processing knowledge, you additionally want some sort of database. Amazon DynamoDB ought to do the job simply fantastic.

Right here is an instance infrastructure design for a to-do REST API in-built AWS Utility Composer:

Try this instance infrastructure design

Fairly easy, isn’t it? Certainly – till we should not have to test the configuration! AWS Utility Composer shouldn’t be eager on deleting something, so for those who join and reconnect the lambda perform with DynamoDB just a few occasions, among the data could find yourself duplicated. 

Try the display beneath:

Keep away from duplicating in AWS Utility Composer

What’s extra, it appears that evidently the deploy button is lacking. You continue to want to put in writing the logic in lambdas, however the APP Composer did save a whole lot of time – for those who have a look at the IaC template, you will notice that there are lots of of ready-made definition strains there:

For data-heavy AWS-based initiatives, try our knowledge lake case examine, which concerned AWS providers similar to Athena, Lake Formation in addition to Lambda, bringing simpler knowledge exploration and new BI dashboards to the enterprise.

Will we just like the Utility Composer?

The most recent AWS software affords a really promising strategy to creating infrastructure. It could possibly simplify the entire course of and permit much less skilled builders to give you protected and well-optimized infrastructure. It additionally simplifies the method of studying and testing new options. Briefly – sure, we do prefer it.

Nonetheless, it mustn’t recommend that the software doesn’t have some issues. There are additionally a whole lot of options that it may use, however they’re merely not there at this second. Let’s go over these points.

The issues

As we talked about, Utility Composer shouldn’t be appropriate for constructing a manufacturing surroundings. However there are extra particular points that we discovered:

Generally if you replace the element within the editor, it creates further, pointless information. We additionally encountered issues with duplicated env variables and IAM roles.

We discovered this one to be notably troublesome. Should you join providers in an improper method, you’ll obtain data that this connection shouldn’t be supported. The identical factor occurs if you join two providers that ought to usually work collectively, however the Utility Composer doesn’t assist it but. In consequence, inexperienced customers could draw fallacious conclusions about a lot of these connections. The software urgently wants correct documentation that states what’s supported and why.

In terms of some elements, we discovered that the Utility Composer-backed configuration shouldn’t be adequate. Take the S3 element talked about above for instance. It permits you to create config for static web sites, however because the bucket coverage is lacking, it’s a must to add it manually.

This can be a downside if you wish to construct one thing extra advanced. However it is a preview, so we’re certain there might be extra elements and providers accessible sooner or later.

Lacking options

There are some things that we wish to see sooner or later. The AWS Utility Composer would undoubtedly present a extra full expertise if it included the next options:

  • Working SAM deploys instantly

It could be good to deploy infrastructure instantly from the Composer. Now we’ve to obtain or sync the challenge after which deploy it manually. For some use instances, it will be simpler to run it instantly from the AWS Console.

It has to do with the earlier criticism. If we had the choice to run SAM instantly from AWS, we may then have a listing with templates. The person may use it to arrange an surroundings in just a few seconds.

AWS Utility Composer – that’s the place issues stand proper now

And that’s about it! We will’t anticipate AWS Utility Composer to develop to the purpose that it will warrant a extra thorough tutorial! For now, it appears that evidently a fast look or two will greater than suffice to determine the important thing takeaways:

  • AWS Utility Composer is a software that helps us to design easy infrastructure rapidly.
  • It’s not production-ready but, as a result of it lacks some necessary configurations and different extra superior options we identified earlier.
  • The thought itself may be very promising – having the ability to automate the writing of a bulk of serverless infrastructure code undoubtedly has a future. It’s what builders and cloud engineers need – each the inexperienced persons and the professionals. In its present state, nonetheless, AWS Utility Composer is generally helpful to the previous.

We maintain our fingers crossed for the following updates and extremely suggest checking the software out by yourself!

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Aleksander Patschek

Aleksander Patschek

Frontend Developer

JavaScript developer with seven years of expertise. An AWS Group Builder. Massive fan of strongly typed languages – that is why he makes use of Typescript every time he can. He likes studying new options similar to AI and no-code and utilizing them in on a regular basis duties. In his free time, he enjoys enjoying video games on PlayStation and sharing data on his weblog.

Rafał Golubowicz

Senior Node.js Developer with a deep ardour for cloud providers, particularly the Serverless structure. One other of his pursuits, sharing data and talking about totally different IT issues, led him to turn out to be a convention speaker. Privately – an fanatic of robotics, travels, and the ukulele.


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