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Creating a Rest API with Infrastructure as Code (Terraform) & Serverless (Lambda + Python) - Part 1

Deploying an API in minutes instead of days

Deploying to production is becoming easier every day. Best practices and tools are available to us to create software that eventually contributes to automating tedious tasks, creating new businesses and startups, and ultimately generating value for society 🌎.

As a software engineer, I firmly believe that open-source code (OSS) provides us with a multitude of benefits, including a community focused on excellence and knowledge sharing. This is one of the reasons why I try to publish the code I have been creating and leverage open-source tools like Terraform to deploy infrastructure.

An important idea for me, and why I joined the AWS community, is always to study, build, and share in order to create a multiplier effect with more and better engineers in a field where creativity and cooperation are fundamental pillars.

In a future post, I will explain and take the code to a more advanced level with: Continuous Deployment using CircleCI, Lambda Layers, and Best Practices or steps to follow when publishing an API in production (Authentication, Rate-Limiting, etc.).

Deployment Anti-Patterns 🙅🏻‍♂️

  • Manually created infrastructure
  • Deploying at specific times due to lack of technical capacity (production errors, unstable software, service unavailability) rather than business decisions
  • Having to send emails to another team for deployment
  • Branches like "development" that differ from what exists in "main" and sometimes generate conflicts during merging
  • Manual testing
  • Tickets for deployment
  • SOAP as the only alternative

All the points mentioned above, along with excessive bureaucracy, committees, and meetings, are still the norm in many organizations, and it was my reality for many years. But there is an alternative, a way of seeing the software development process where simplicity is key, both in deployments with pipelines and automation, and in the creation of software, where the focus should be on reducing accidental complexity, building modular, testable applications that are easy to understand for the team.

A Brighter Future 💻

  • Unit testing and automation
  • Trunk-based development
  • AI, ChatGPT, Copilot
  • DevOps as a mindset, not just a role
  • Infrastructure as code
  • Serverless and containers
  • REST, SOAP, GraphQL, gRPC

The purpose of this post is to showcase an essential part of software delivery with Terraform and Serverless.

Let's talk about the code!

Code on GitHub: serverless-terraform

Project Structure 🏭

Project Structure

The following files are typical in a Terraform project, and this is the convention we are using in this project.

  • main.tf - Entry point for Terraform
  • variables.tf - Input variables
  • terraform.tfvars - Variable definition file
  • providers.tf - Provider declarations
  • outputs.tf - Output values
  • versions.tf - Provider version locking

Why Terraform ☁️

  • Open source
  • Multi-cloud
  • Immutable infrastructure
  • Declarative paradigm
  • Domain-specific language (DSL)
  • Does not require agents or master nodes
  • Free
  • Large community
  • Mature software

Why Serverless and Python 🐍

  • Automatic scalability
  • Pay-per-use
  • High availability
  • Easy development and deployment

  • Integration with managed services

Code

Lambda: The code for a Lambda function should generally be simple and adhere to the single responsibility principle or reason to change. The name of the method should correspond to the entry point defined in the Terraform code.

import json
import requests

def lambda_handler(event, context):
    response = requests.get("https://test-api.k6.io/public/crocodiles/")
    if response.status_code == 200:
        data = response.json()
        random_info = data
    else:
        random_info = "No data!"

    return {
        "statusCode": 200,
        "body": json.dumps({
            "message": "hello world - We are going to create a DevOps as a service powered by AI",
            "random_info": random_info
        }),
    }
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.gitignore: Definition of files that we do not want to add to the repository. It is crucial not to publish AWS credential information.

# Terraform-specific files
.terraform/
terraform.tfstate
terraform.tfstate.backup
*.tfvars

hello_world.zip
response.json
.layer
layer.zip

# AWS credentials file
.aws/credentials
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Provider: The first step is usually to define the provider, where we typically specify the cloud and deployment region.

provider "aws" {
  region = var.aws_region

  default_tags {
    tags = {
      created-by = "terraform"
    }
  }
}
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Lambda Resources: Configures the Lambda to retrieve the source code from a bucket also created by Terraform, and we define lambda_handler as the method that will receive and process the API event.

resource "aws_lambda_function" "hello_world" {
  function_name    = "HelloCommunityBuilders"
  s3_bucket        = aws_s3_bucket.lambda_bucket.id
  s3_key           = aws_s3_object.lambda_hello_world.key
  runtime          = "python3.9"
  handler          = "app.lambda_handler"
  source_code_hash = data.archive_file.lambda_hello_world.output_base64sha256
  role             = aws_iam_role.lambda_exec.arn
  layers           = [aws_lambda_layer_version.lambda_layer.arn]
}
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Permissions: Defines the required permissions to execute the Lambda and access AWS services.

resource "aws_iam_role" "lambda_exec" {
  name = "serverless_lambda"

  assume_role_policy = jsonencode({
    Version   = "2012-10-17"
    Statement = [
      {
        Action    = "sts:AssumeRole"
        Effect    = "Allow"
        Sid       = ""
        Principal = {
          Service = "lambda.amazonaws.com"
        }
      }
    ]
  })
}

resource "aws_iam_role_policy_attachment" "lambda_policy" {
  role       = aws_iam_role.lambda_exec.name
  policy_arn = "arn:aws:iam::aws:policy/service-role/AWSLambdaBasicExecutionRole"
}
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API Definition: Specifies the verb and resource name according to the conventions of a REST API.

resource "aws_apigatewayv2_integration" "hello_world" {
  api_id             = aws_apigatewayv2_api.lambda.id
  integration_uri    = aws_lambda_function.hello_world.invoke_arn
  integration_type   = "AWS_PROXY"
  integration_method = "POST"
}

resource "aws_apigatewayv2_route" "hello_world" {
  api_id    = aws_apigatewayv2_api.lambda.id
  route_key = "GET /hello"
  target    = "integrations/${aws_apigatewayv

2_integration.hello_world.id}"
}
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Terraform Deployment

Deploying the API should be as simple as cloning the code and running a couple of Terraform commands.

The terraform init command is used to initialize a project in a working directory. This command downloads provider code and configures the backend, where state and other key data are stored.

terraform init
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The terraform apply command is used to apply the changes defined in your infrastructure configuration and create or modify the corresponding resources in your infrastructure provider.

terraform apply
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Finally, you can retrieve the information from the Outputs and make the API call.

http "$(terraform output -raw base_url)/hello"
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Http API Call

Conclusion 🤔

In this article, we have explored the combination of Terraform and Serverless to create an API in minutes.

By leveraging CI/CD best practices, infrastructure as code, and automated testing, we can achieve faster and more reliable deployments while maintaining high-quality code.

Not too long ago, deploying an API in production was a tedious task that involved multiple actors. Nowadays, we have a wealth of open-source software and developer-focused tools that emphasize immutability, automation, productivity-enhancing AI, and powerful IDEs. In summary, there has never been a better time to be an engineer and create value in society through software.

It is important to emphasize that the major issues in the software development and delivery process are organizational and human. Ultimately, building applications is a social activity, but the more we solve technical problems and improve communication, the easier it should be to reach production. Happy coding! 🎉

If you enjoyed the articles, visit my blog at jorgetovar.dev.

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