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Implementing the transactional outbox pattern with Amazon EventBridge Pipes

This post is written by Sayan Moitra, Associate Solutions Architect, and Sangram Sonawane, Senior Solutions Architect.

Microservice architecture is an architectural style that structures an application as a collection of loosely coupled and independently deployable services. Services must communicate with each other to exchange messages and perform business operations. Ensuring message reliability while maintaining loose coupling between services is crucial for building robust and scalable systems.

This blog demonstrates how to use Amazon DynamoDB, a fully managed serverless key-value NoSQL database, and Amazon EventBridge, a managed serverless event bus, to implement reliable messaging for microservices using the transactional outbox pattern.

Business operations can span across multiple systems or databases to maintain consistency and synchronization between them. One approach often used in distributed systems or architectures where data must be replicated across multiple locations or components is dual writes. In a dual write scenario, when a write operation is performed on one system or database, the same data or event also triggers another system in real-time or near real-time. This ensures that both systems always have the same data, minimizing data inconsistencies.

Dual writes can also introduce data integrity challenges in distributed systems. Failure to update the database or to send events to other downstream systems after an initial system update can lead to data loss and leave the application in an inconsistent state. One design approach to overcome this challenge is to combine dual writes with the transactional outbox pattern.

Challenges with dual writes

Consider an online food ordering application to illustrate the challenges with dual writes. Once the user submits the order, the order service updates the order status in a persistent data store. The order status update should also be sent to notify_restaurant and order_tracking services using a message bus for asynchronous communication. After successfully updating the order status in the database, the order service writes the event to the message bus. The order_service performs a dual write operation of updating the database and publishing the event details on the message bus for other services to read.

This approach works until there are issues encountered in publishing the event to the message bus. Publishing events can fail for multiple reasons like a network error or a message bus outage. When failure occurs, the notify_restaurant and order_tracking service will not be notified of the order update event, leaving the system in an inconsistent state. Implementing the transactional outbox pattern with dual writes can help ensure reliable messaging between systems after a database update.

This illustration shows a sequence diagram for an online food ordering application and the challenges with dual writes:

Overview of the transactional outbox pattern

In the transactional outbox pattern, a second persistent data store is introduced to store the outgoing messages. In the online food order example, updating the database with order details and storing the event information in the outbox table becomes a single atomic transaction.

The transaction is only successful when writing to both the database and the outbox table. Any failures to write to the outbox table rolls back the transaction. A separate process then reads the event from the outbox table and publishes the event on the message bus. Once the message is available on the message bus, it can be read by the notify_restaurant and order_tracking services. Combining transactional outbox pattern with dual writes allows for data consistency across systems and reliable message delivery with the transactional context.

The following illustration shows a sequence diagram for an online food ordering application with transactional outbox pattern for reliable message delivery.

Implementing the transaction outbox pattern

DynamoDB includes a feature called DynamoDB Streams to capture a time-ordered sequence of item-level modifications in the DynamoDB table and stores this information in a log for up to 24 hours. Applications can access this log and view the data items as they appeared before and after they were modified, in near real time.

Whenever an application creates, updates, or deletes items in the table, DynamoDB Streams writes a stream record with the primary key attributes of the items that were modified. A stream record contains information about a data modification to a single item in a DynamoDB table. DynamoDB Streams writes stream records in near real time and these can be consumed for processing based on the contents. Enabling this feature removes the need to maintain a separate outbox table and lowers the management and operational overhead.

EventBridge Pipes connects event producers to consumers with options to transform, filter, and enrich messages. EventBridge Pipes can integrate with DynamoDB Streams to capture table events without writing any code. There is no need to write and maintain a separate process to read from the stream. EventBridge Pipes also supports retries, and any failed events can be routed to a dead-letter queue (DLQ) for further analysis and reprocessing.

EventBridge polls shards in DynamoDB stream for records and invokes pipes as soon as records are available. You can configure this to read records from DynamoDB only when it has gathered a specified batch size or the batch window expires. Pipes maintains the order of records from the data stream when sending that data to the destination. You can optionally filter or enhance these records before sending them to a target for processing.

Example overview

The following diagram illustrates the implementation of transactional outbox pattern with DynamoDB Streams and EventBridge Pipe. Amazon API Gateway is used to trigger a DynamoDB operation via a POST request. The change in the DynamoDB triggers an EventBridge event bus via Amazon EventBridge Pipes. This event bus invokes the Lambda functions through an SQS Queue, depending on the filters applied.

  1. In this sample implementation, Amazon API Gateway makes a POST call to the DynamoDB table for database updates. Amazon API Gateway supports CRUD operations for Amazon DynamoDB without the need of a compute layer for database calls.
  2. DynamoDB Streams is enabled on the table, which captures a time-ordered sequence of item-level modifications in the DynamoDB table in near real time.
  3. EventBridge Pipes integrates with DynamoDB Streams to capture the events and can optionally filter and enrich the data before it is sent to a supported target. In this example, events are sent to Amazon EventBridge, which acts as a message bus. This can be replaced with any of the supported targets as detailed in Amazon EventBridge Pipes targets. DLQ can be configured to handle any failed events, which can be analyzed and retried.
  4. Consumers listening to the event bus receive messages. You can optionally fan out and deliver the events to multiple consumers and apply filters. You can configure a DLQ to handle any failures and retries.


  1. AWS SAM CLI, version 1.85.0 or higher
  2. Python 3.10

Deploying the example application

  1. Clone the repository:
    git clone
  2. Change to the root directory of the project and run the following AWS SAM CLI commands:
    cd amazon-eventbridge-pipes-dynamodb-stream-transactional-outbox               
    sam build
    sam deploy --guided
  3. Enter the name for your stack during guided deployment. During the deploy process, select the default option for all the additional steps.
  4. The resources are deployed.

Testing the application

Once the deployment is complete, it provides the API Gateway URL in the output. You can test using that URL. To test the application, use Postman to make a POST call to API Gateway prod URL:

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You can also test using the curl command:

curl -s --header "Content-Type: application/json" \
  --request POST \
  --data '{"Status":"Created"}' \

This produces the following output:

To verify if the order details are updated in the DynamoDB table, run this command for performing a scan operation on the table.

aws dynamodb scan \
    --table-name <DynamoDB Table Name>

Handling failures

DynamoDB Streams captures a time-ordered sequence of item-level modifications in the DynamoDB table and stores this information in a log for up to 24 hours. If EventBridge is unavailable to read from DynamoDB Stream due to misconfiguration, for example, the records are available in the log for 24 hours. Once EventBridge is reintegrated, it retrieves all undelivered records from the last 24 hours. For integration issues between EventBridge Pipes and the target application, all failed messages can be sent to the DLQ for reprocessing at a later time.

Cleaning up

To clean up your AWS based resources, run following AWS SAM CLI command, answering “y” to all questions:

sam delete --stack-name <stack_name>


Reliable interservice communication is an important consideration in microservice design, especially when faced with dual writes. Combining the transactional outbox pattern with dual writes provides a robust way of improving message reliability.

This blog demonstrates an architecture pattern to tackle the challenge of dual writes by combining it with the transactional outbox pattern using DynamoDB and EventBridge Pipes. This solution provides a no-code approach with AWS Managed Services, reducing management and operational overhead.

For more serverless learning resources, visit Serverless Land.

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//Last UPDATE ON 18/09
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