Serverless Application Development Basics

Definition, Advantages, and Disadvantages

A promising new approach in emerging technology is serverless application development. Proponents tout that you can focus on your application rather than the infrastructure it runs on. Serverless architectures rely on third-party “Backend as a Service” (BaaS) services like AWS, Azure or Google Cloud. As we’ll outline here, this modern (at least for now) approach has some inherent advantages and disadvantages. If you’re part of a software business, we’ll help explain what serverless applications are and why you would want to build them.

What Serverless Application Development Is

In a serverless computing environment like Amazon, your application runs on AWS servers. AWS Lambda lets you execute your code without provisioning or managing any servers, and you only pay for the server time that you consume. Serverless functions are accessible only as private APIs, and they run in stateless compute containers that are event-triggered, ephemeral (lasts for one invocation). Pricing is based on the number of executions rather than pre-purchased compute capacity. All the server management is performed by AWS. Functions as a Service (FaaS) is a specialized implementation of serverless architectures. It enables software engineers to deploy an individual function or a piece of business logic.

Advantages of Serverless Application Development

We see three key advantages to serverless application development:

1. Business Agility

Running serverless frees up time for teams to innovate by eliminating the need to provision, scale, and patch infrastructure. Put another way, you’re free to innovate, test, and iterate, which is an increasingly important approach for technology-driven businesses. It entirely eliminates infrastructure management tasks such as server or cluster provisioning, patching, operating system maintenance, and capacity provisioning.

2. Cost Effectiveness

A serverless platform like AWS enables cost-effective serverless application development & deployment. As you scale, capacity planning & cost management are automated. The result is software that is easier to build and maintain.

3. Scalability

Further to the attractive expense model, serverless application environments are scalable and highly available. It’s automatic, seamless, and virtually unlimited.

Challenges of Serverless Application Development

Not every application can or should be a candidate for a serverless deployment. We list some key reasons…

1. Performance Issues

At the top of the list is speed of execution. Cold starts, which are caused by running a serverless function in a virtual private cloud, may result in a lag or a cold start time. In addition, underpowered runtime configurations can accentuate performance issues. And another speed factor is distance latency. If you’re serving international customers from a domestic zone, you may

2. Architectural Considerations

If your project has external dependencies, such as third party libraries, you’ll have to bake them into the framework you use.

3. Brevity

Complex or long-running functions aren’t good for serverless deployment. Each cloud provider has a time limit for execution (e.g., AWS is 15 minutes, Azure is 10).

The Impact of Serverless Application Development

Serverless applications allow your development team to focus on application code without worrying about provisioning, configuring, managing and scaling infrastructure. As a result, development speeds up while reducing the complexity of creating scalable, reliable applications. When a serverless models fit, it can deliver significant innovation advantages to the business.

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