Creating Amazon SNS messages to be processed in the future


For the last few years we have used our own RM Application to process events related to our applications. This works by polling a database table every few minutes, looking for any rows that have a due date before now, and have not been processed yet.

We are currently making the transition to SNS, with SQS Worker tiers processing them. The problem with this approach is that we can’t future date our messages. Our applications sometimes have events that we don’t want to process until a week later.

Are there any design approaches, alternative services, clever tricks we could employ that would allow us to do achieve this?

One solution would be to keep our existing application running, at a simplified level, so all it does is send the SNS notifications when they are due, but the aim of this project is to try and do away with our existing app.


The database approach would be the wisest, being careful that each row is only processed once.

Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS) is designed to send notifications immediately. There is no functionality for a delayed send (although some notification types are retried if they fail).

Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS) does have a delay feature, but only up to 15 minutes — this is useful if you need to do some work before the message is processed, such as copying related data to Amazon S3.

Given that your requirement is to wait until some future arbitrary time (effectively like a scheduling system), you could either start a process and tell it to sleep for a certain amount of time (a bad idea in case systems are restarted), or continue your approach of polling from a database.

If all jobs are scheduled for a distant future (eg at least one hour away), you theoretically only need to poll the database once an hour to retrieve the earliest scheduled time.

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