• Tony Fortunato

AWS EC2 vs Lambda

AWS EC2 is a service that represents the traditional cloud infrastructure (IaaS) and allows you to run EC2 instances as VMs, configure environments, and run custom applications. ... AWS Lambda provides you a serverless architecture and allows you to run a piece of code in the cloud after an event trigger is activated.


● What is Amazon EC2?

● What is AWS Lambda?

● EC2 vs Lambda: Key Differences

○ EC2 Pricing vs Lambda Pricing

○ EC2 Scaling vs Lambda Scaling

○ EC2 Timeout vs Lambda Timeout

○ EC2 Security vs Lambda Security

● Lambda vs EC2: How to Choose


EC2 vs Lambda: Pricing, Scalability and Security

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a cloud-based service by Amazon Web Services. Amazon EC2 lets you provision virtual machines (VMs) for your workloads. You can increase or decrease EC2 instance capacity in a matter of seconds, either manually via the Amazon Console or EC2 API, or automatically using AWS Auto Scaling. You define your own scaling policies, and create manageable groups of multiple instances.

AWS Lambda is a function as a service (FaaS) solution that eliminates the need to provision compute and storage resources. Lambda lets you build your own serverless applications, using Lambda functions. Each function is triggered by predefined events. You can automatically deploy functions using AWS CodeBuild and AWS CodePipeline.

EC2 vs Lambda: Key Differences

EC2 Pricing vs Lambda Pricing

AWS offers both EC2 and Lambda as a pay-as-you-go service. However, there are several factors that impact the pricing of each service.

EC2 pricing

EC2 instance pricing is based on the time your instances are running, even if your application is not actually running. The price per hour varies according to the amount of memory usage, CPU performance, the performance of the video card, and storage capacity usage. EC2 is ideal when you need constant availability for your workloads.

Lambda pricing

Amazon Lambda bills users for the amount of application executions, as well as the time required to finish each execution. The price for running applications changes according to the amount of provisioned memory per application. Application execution time is counted from the time a serverless function is invoked until the return of each result, or until the execution stops after timeout.

EC2 Scaling vs Lambda Scaling

EC2 provides full control over concurrency and scaling implementations. To define scaling policies, you need to use EC2 Auto Scaling groups. Scaling policies let you define conditions and actions, but you need to carefully monitor metrics before changing threshold limits.

Lambda provides fully automated scaling, which is convenient but provides far less control. You cannot directly affect scaling behavior, because these tasks are handled by AWS. What you can do is define the maximum amount of concurrent executions per function.

EC2 Timeout vs Lambda Timeout

Lambda functions time out within 300 seconds, which means you cannot use it for all types of tasks. Complex tasks and long-running functions are not compatible with this limitation. API Gateway imposes an additional limit, because it invokes a function at thirty seconds.

EC2 is more flexible, compared to Lambda. EC2 works well for running long tasks. There are many available instances for different requirements and configurations. However, there are certain challenges that should be monitored. Connection timeouts, for example, can occur when security group rules overlap with an unidentified user key.

EC2 Security vs Lambda Security

Lambda uses a serverless architecture, which abstracts patching and operating system updates away from the user. Lambda uses a shared responsibility security model, where Amazon is responsible for securing the server, while you are responsible for securing applications deployed as serverless functions. You can implement security using SSL/TLS communication for serverless requests, encrypting data used by Lambda functions, and using AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) to control access.

EC2 requires that users set up security for their compute instances. This security layer determines and controls which traffic is allowed to communicate with your instances. For example, you can restrict certain communication protocols, set up access control, and set up a firewall filtering traffic from certain sources.

Lambda vs EC2: How to Choose

Lambda is ideal for workloads that constantly perform data manipulation. You can set up a trigger that responds to an event, and then the system constantly performs the action you defined. You will be charged per events triggered and usage, and you will not incur overhead.

EC2 pricing is set up to bill you for every second your instance is running. This is why it is ideal for web applications, which require constant provisioning. You can optimize the process, spinning up instances as needed, and ensure that your application gets the required capacity.


Both EC2 and Lambda are advanced cloud computing solutions that let you easily deploy workloads, automate workflows, and achieve elastic scalability. However, each has its pros and cons.

EC2 is robust and provides a lot of control over scaling behavior and the environment. However, it also requires more maintenance and administrative effort. AWS Lambda only requires you to provide code, and does all the rest for you. This is much easier, but comes with several important limitations, and gives administrators and developers far less control over development workflows.

At the end of the day, most organizations will run something on both EC2 and Lambda. Instead of choosing between these two platforms, try to identify the use cases and stages in your development process that will be most appropriate to run as an EC2 compute instance or as a Lambda function.

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