How to Migrate a Go API to Serverless (in under 10 mins) by@andrewgriffiths

How to Migrate a Go API to Serverless (in under 10 mins)

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Andrew Griffiths

I’m going to step you through the process converting an existing Go API to serverless and deploying it to to AWS Lambda & API Gateway with AWS Severless Application Model (SAM). The whole process should take under 10 minutes. Let’s get started!

1. Setup

Our example API uses the [HttpRouter]( package so let’s install that first.

$ go get

We have a single HTTP handler defined that will return a 200 HTTP response with the body ok.

# handlers.gopackage main

import "net/http"

func HealthHandler(w http.ResponseWriter, r *http.Request) {w.WriteHeader(http.StatusOK)w.Write([]byte("ok"))}

Our entrypoint to the application, the main function, attaches the HealthHandler to the /healthz route and listens for HTTP requests on port 8080.

# main.gopackage main

import ("fmt""log""net/http""")

const (serverPort = 8000)

func main() {router := httprouter.New()router.Handler("GET", "/healthz", http.HandlerFunc(goserverlessapi.HealthHandler))

fmt.Printf("Server listening on port: %d\\n", serverPort)  
log.Fatal(http.ListenAndServe(fmt.Sprintf(":%d", serverPort), router), nil)  


Let’s build and run this locally to check everything’s working okay.

$ go build -o go-serverless-api && ./go-serverless-apiServer listening on port: 8080

2. Convert Application Code to Serverless

In order to deploy to a serverless backend we need to be able to handle requests from AWS Lambda. Lambda functions have a different signature to regular HTTP handlers. Imagine if we had not one but hundreds in our application. We would have to manually update all the functions and re-write tests and in doing so we would forfeit our ability to deploy to non-serverless backends.

There is a solution which avoids all the problems just listed. We will create a modified entrypoint just for AWS Lambda. Using the [gateway]( package we will swap out net/http’s ListenAndServe for gateway.ListenAndServe which will convert the payload that AWS Lambda provides into the [*http.Request]( type that HTTP handlers accept.

In order to implement this second entrypoint we need to reorganise our project. We will create a directory for the AWS Lambda one and move our original entrypoint to a new folder too.

# original entrypoint moved to new location$ mkdir -p cmd/go-serverless-api

# new entrypoint for lambda$ mkdir -p cmd/go-serverless-api-lambda

We will copy the main.go file into each of these new directories and then remove it from the root of our project.

$ cp main.go cmd/go-serverless-api$ cp main.go cmd/go-serverless-api-lambda$ rm main.go

The package in the root of our project is no longer going to be the main package (the one Go uses to run your application). We will rename it to goserverlessapi so that we can import it as a library into our new entrypoints which will both become main packages.

$ grep -l 'package main' *.go | xargs sed -i 's/package main/package goserverlessapi/g'

After a simple find and replace on the Go files in the root of your project your handlers.go should look like this.

# handlers.gopackage goserverlessapi

import "net/http"

func HealthHandler(w http.ResponseWriter, r *http.Request) {w.WriteHeader(http.StatusOK)w.Write([]byte("ok"))}

Now we need to update our original entrypoint to import the goserverlessapi package and access the HealthHandler function as an export from that. Note that you will need to modify the import path of the goserverlessapi package to match that of your project root’s location in your $GOPATH. The correct path for the example application on github used in this tutorial is

# cmd/go-serverless-api/main.gopackage main

import ("fmt""log""net/http"


const (serverPort = 8080)

func main() {router := httprouter.New()router.Handler("GET", "/healthz", http.HandlerFunc(goserverlessapi.HealthHandler))

fmt.Printf("Server listening on port: %d\\n", serverPort)  
log.Fatal(http.ListenAndServe(fmt.Sprintf(":%d", serverPort), router), nil)  


Next update the AWS Lambda entrypoint. We are going to use the [gateway]( package which is a drop-in replacement for Go net/http when running on AWS Lambda & API Gateway so let’s install it first.

$ go get

Then update the AWS Lambda entrypoint file to the following.

# cmd/go-serverless-api-lambda/main.gopackage main

import ("log""net/http"



func main() {router := httprouter.New()router.Handler("GET", "/healthz", http.HandlerFunc(goserverlessapi.HealthHandler))log.Fatal(gateway.ListenAndServe("", router), nil)}

We have added gateway to our imports and swapped it out for http.ListenAndServe. The port value is redundant in the Lambda context and the gateway package discards it so we can safely remove the port constant and replace it with an empty string. In addition we have included our HealthHandler from the go-serverless-api package (the package in the root our of project which used to be our main package) as our handler for the /healthz path.

3. Build and Run Locally

Let’s build and run our original HTTP API again.

$ go build \-o go-serverless-api \./cmd/go-serverless-api

$ ./go-serverless-apiServer listening on port: 8080

Open another terminal window and query it.

$ curl -s http://localhost:8080/healthz ok

Everything still works!

Let’s do the same with the AWS Lambda version.

$ go build \-o go-serverless-api-lambda \./cmd/go-serverless-api-lambda

$ ./go-serverless-api-lambda

Again, open a new terminal and query it.

$ curl -s http://localhost:8080/healthzhttp: error: ConnectionError: HTTPConnectionPool(host='localhost', port=8080): Max retries exceeded with url: /healthz (Caused by NewConnectionError(': Failed to establish a new connection: [Errno 111] Connection refused',)) while doing GET request to URL: http://localhost:8080/healthz

Don’t worry this error is expected as the AWS Lambda version is not listening for HTTP connections but instead expects to be fed an [APIGatewayProxyRequest]( type.

4. Package Application For AWS Lambda

Build the binary for linux, the operating system that AWS Lambda uses.

$ GOOS=linux go build \-o go-serverless-api-lambda \./cmd/go-serverless-api-lambda

AWS Lambda requires that function code be bundled into a zip so let’s go ahead and compress the binary.

$ zip go-serverless-api-lambda

We will be using the created in the final step - deployment.

5. Deploy

I’ve seen some tutorials that use the AWS CLI tools to deploy to AWS Lambda using ad hoc commands. This is absolutely the wrong approach to take! You should be automating your infrastructure just like every other aspect of your application. The industry standard for deployment is either Terraform or AWS Cloudformation. Both give you a declarative way to build your infrastructure. You save this configuration in YAML/JSON (Cloudformation) or HCL (Terraform) files which you commit to your repository. The problem with doing things this way is that you have to deal with all of the low level details of the stack. It would be nice if we had a way of describing our infrastructure at a high level in under 20 lines of code instead of hundreds. Enter AWS Severless Application Model (SAM).

AWS Severless Application Model (SAM)

SAM is a new standard spearheaded by Amazon aimed at making deploying serverless infrastructure simpler and more concise. SAM is an open source specification — see the full reference guide. Hopefully other cloud vendors will adopt this in the future and it will become possible to deploy seamlessly to multiple clouds with a single configuration.

Deploy with AWS SAM

Add the following YAML file to the root of your project. This is a SAM template that configures an AWS Lambda Function that runs your Go app and deploys it behind an HTTP interface provided by AWS API Gateway.

# template.yamlAWSTemplateFormatVersion: '2010-09-09'Transform: 'AWS::Serverless-2016-10-31'Description: 'Boilerplate Go API.'Resources:GoAPI:Type: AWS::Serverless::FunctionProperties:Handler: go-serverless-api-lambdaRuntime: go1.xCodeUri: ./go-serverless-api-lambda.zipEvents:Request:Type: ApiProperties:Method: ANYPath: /{proxy+}

The line Type: AWS::Serverless::Function creates a Lambda function that is handled (Handler: go-serverless-api-lambda) by the binary file we built earlier. This Lambda function can respond to any number of events triggered by other AWS services such as those triggered by AWS S3 and Kinesis. The documentation contains the full list of event of sources. In our case we want it to respond to HTTP requests via API Gateway therefore we set the event to Type: Api. SAM implicitly creates an API Gateway for us as part of this which we then configure to respond to any type of HTTP request by setting the method to ANY). We tell our API to handle all paths below and including the root by adding Path: /{proxy+}.

We still need to upload the zip containing our Go binary to AWS S3. Ensure you have an S3 bucket created ready to receive our zip. This is a one-time operation you’ll want to do manually.

$ aws s3 mb s3://my-bucket

The following command will upload the zip and create a packaged SAM template.

$ aws cloudformation package \--template-file template.yaml \--s3-bucket my-bucket \--output-template-file packaged-template.yaml

You should now have a packaged-template.yaml file pointing to the uploaded zip.

# packaged-template.yamlAWSTemplateFormatVersion: '2010-09-09'Transform: 'AWS::Serverless-2016-10-31'Description: 'Boilerplate Go API.'Resources:GoAPI:Type: AWS::Serverless::FunctionProperties:Handler: go-serverless-api-lambdaRuntime: go1.xCodeUri: s3://my-bucket/8982639e71e0d433cd99f9fa4207ecbeEvents:Request:Type: ApiProperties:Method: ANYPath: /{proxy+}

Now let’s deploy using this new packaged template.

$ aws cloudformation deploy \--template-file packaged-template.yaml \--stack-name go-serverless-api-stack \--capabilities CAPABILITY_IAM

The --capabilities CAPABILITY_IAM flag is required for cloudformation to create the stack for you as it will involve modifying IAM permissions - AWS mandate you set this explicitly as a safety measure. Under the hood the SAM template is compiled into a regular cloudformation template which is hundreds of lines longer. All of is completely hidden from the user (although you are free to inspect the compiled cloudformation template if you wish).

Setup 6. Test Deployed Serverless API

In order to discover the endpoint of our deployed API we need find out the API Gateway REST id.

$ aws apigateway get-rest-apis{"items": [{"id": "0qu18x8pyd","name": "go-serverless-api-stack","createdDate": 1523987269,"version": "1.0","apiKeySource": "HEADER","endpointConfiguration": {"types": ["EDGE"]}}]}

AWS API Gateway addresses take the following format.


A stage is Amazon’s term for a deployment. SAM creates two different stages for you: Stage and Prod. Note the title case which is also used in the URLs! I think AWS forgot that everyone calls their test environment Staging not Stage but nevermind!

So SAM has set up endpoints for us at the following locations.

Let’s invoke our API.

$ curl -s {"message":"Missing Authentication Token"}

No need to panic! This is the standard API Gateway error when you make a request to the root resource without defining a handler for it. The only handler we have defined is /healthz, so let’s try that.

$ curl -s ok

Voila! Our API is now being powered by a serverless backend.

Full code for this tutorial available on github.

I’ll be posting more articles on Go and Serverless soon. Follow me on twitter to get notified when I do.

Originally published at


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