Top 8 Best Practices to Architect a serverless web application

Serverless computing has been gaining momentum ever since it came into limelight in 2015. It’s a native architecture of the cloud which enables users to create, deploy and run an application without thinking of its server. Serverless, in fact, allows users and developers to shift more the operational capacity, increase agility and innovation.  In short, you get limitless computational power with no infrastructure management tasks such as zero maintenance, cluster provisioning, capacity provisioning, etc. 

Top 8 Best Practices to Architect a serverless web app

Why Serverless

Serverless is the need of time. As technology advances, you need to come up with more enhanced web applications with more power and agility which may not be possible traditionally. And, even if it is possible, you need to spend a lot of effort such as building perfect infrastructure, human resources, time and cost. Serverless helps you remain focused on your core products while leaving all other responsibilities upon the serverless provider. All you need a serverless web application and you pay no heed towards its maintenance, scaling up, agility or anything else. You have immense benefits from having a serverless application. 

So, in this article, we shall be discussing the best practices of a serverless web application that every Serverless Architect should know.

Even though there are plenty of tech giants offering serverless services including AWS Lambda, Microsoft Azure, and Alphabet’s Google Cloud Platform, but we have taken the example of AWS to make it more comprehensive. So, here we go;

1. The Serverless Function Requires VPC-Enable for Better Security

We have taken an example of Lambda as most of us use AWS Lambdas as an event-driven, serverless computing platform. So, it is important to have VPC-enable functions of Lambda operate from VPC which is owned by AWS. Enabling this, you get complete ability to have your function make a network request to any address.

Lambda is not directly accessible to the public, but with the support of AWS APIs Getaway, we can make accessible for the public. So, be it accessing AWS APIs or interacting with AWS DyanamoDB APIs, you can easily do it after enabling the function for VPC access. So, having have your function VPC-enabled, the Subnet will manage all your traffic using its routing rules. 

2. Creating Event-Driven Architectures

When it comes to creating event-driven architectures, it is important to know the mechanisms and how to enable asynchronous messaging pattern. It applies in both creating a simple queuing and message buffering and choreography pattern that is more intricate even-based. To enable this, you need to use queues or streams.

Queuing is also used for intrapersonal communication. That means when you want to initiate communication between one Lambda function another, then Queuing can be the best for you.

3. How to Implement and Orchestrate in a Distributed, Microservices Environment

You need to implement coordinated transactions using coordinated sequenced invocations across services in distributed architectures. The implementation also allows rollback and retry mechanisms put in place. That is quite different from the traditional database-based ACID transactions. 

When you need significant orchestration logic and looking to utilize more of the orchestrator pattern, not the choreography pattern, then the serverless technology lie AWS Step Functions enables you to create highly qualified and complex workflows with its various AWS services that also includes AWS Lambda. 

4. Understanding AWS Lambda Computing Environment

It is important to understand AWS Lambda and programming model. You need to learn how to utilize Lambda in terms of performance and cost optimization. You learn this using the tutorial provided for AWS Lambda as “Lambda Under the Hood”, “Lambda Layers, the Runtime API, and Nested Applications” and “Optimizing Serverless Applications”. 

5. Serverless Deployment Automation

When it comes to a larger number of microservices and smaller components, integrating automation and code management into your application is critical. Given the fact that early integration will efficiently create, deploy and implement the serverless architectures. Importantly, when you use AWS, you get a wide range of first-party deployment tools and frameworks to properly architect your serverless web application. The tools and frameworks you can utilize from AWS include the AWS Serverless Application Model (SAM), the AWS Cloud Development Kit (CDK), AWS Amplify, and AWS Chalice.

Besides, there are various third-party tools and frameworks available to make the deployment of serverless web application easy, they include, Serverless Framework, Claudia.js, Sparta, or Zappa. You are free to create your custom-built framework, though you need to ensure that things such as automation strategy works as per use case, team and workflows. 

6. Identity Management, Authentication, and Authorization 

When it comes to creating a serverless web application, a developer requires planning things such as integrating identity management, building enhanced authorization and authentication functionalities in advance. The utilization of Amazon Cognito enables a developer to deploy these things directly into the serverless web applications. At the same time, when using Amazon API Gateway, the developers can manage things like authorization logic and permit requests straightforwardly. That means you manage the authorization logic at the gateway layer which protects your native authorization being exposed. 

7. Learning End-to-End Security Techniques 

Apart from knowing identity management, authorization and authentication, there are some more important security measures you can learn to create a highly secure serverless web application. Here are some of the top list of things you can consider;

  • Concerns regarding regulatory compliance
  • Ways to validate input and request
  • Metering & Throttling Access to tracking bandwidth and accessing use control based on rules
  • Securing storage and retrieving data as needed
  • IAM execution roles and implementing invocation policies 
  • And, others

You can learn all these things from the AWS tutorial page while creating the application. 

8. Considering Packages Size and Dependencies 

You must take care of package size as having a larger deployment package will slow down the function of the application. Therefore, you are advised to remove all the unnecessary items including documentation and libraries. You can use AWS SDK which enables Java function users to bundle the modules which needed from the SDK. 

Let’s take a look at the example of how using Java Function with AWS SDK create an excellent package;

<dependency>

    <groupId>software.amazon.awssdk</groupId>

    <artifactId>dynamodb</artifactId>

    <version>2.6.0</version>

</dependency>

Here, only the required modules have been used

In case, you are not using Java Function with AWS SDK, you end up creating a larger package with the entire SDK with lots of unnecessary modules. Here’s how it happens;

<!– https://mvnrepository.com/artifact/software.amazon.awssdk/aws-sdk-java –>

<dependency>

    <groupId>software.amazon.awssdk</groupId>

    <artifactId>aws-sdk-java</artifactId>

    <version>2.6.0</version>

</dependency>

Final Thoughts

When it comes to creating a serverless web application, you have plenty of things to learn. Serverless technology is the need of time as people need more services, support, and assistance from technology at the minimum costs. Serverless is the way to cut costs significantly and reward the business with limitless scaling options. Stay tuned for more such information. 

To know more about iView Labs, kindly log on to our website www.iviewlabs.com and to get in touch with us with your queries and needs just write us an email on info@iviewlabs.com and sales@iviewlabs.com.

Download the latest portfolio to see our work.

What is Serverless Computing?

We all use mobile phones. Many of us use a fixed data plan that charges us for a threshold amount of data per day or month. Anything above this limit is charged at a premium. Now, it’s not necessary that you will use each byte of data for which you’re paying. In fact, most of the data goes unused.

Serverless_Web_App

(Image Source: aws.amazon.com)

This can be compared to the traditional computing system. Companies had to invest bundles of money in buying costly servers. With the advent of  cloud computing, companies could rent storage space on the cloud  which was cheaper than buying servers, but most companies miscalculated and leased more space than needed.

Now, continuing with our mobile phone analogy. Post-paid or pay-as-you-use plans are the preferred choice of most mobile phone users. You pay only for the quantum of data that you use. You don’t have to shell out a minimum amount, neither are you penalized for overuse.

This can be compared to serverless computing. Developers can code but companies need not purchase servers or rent cloud space. Servers are involved but developers aren’t concerned with them. So, ‘serverless’ computing is not actually ‘serverless.’

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Why Serverless Computing?

The main benefit you get from switching to serverless computing is cost savings that you get. You pay only for the services that you use. The entire infrastructure is maintained by the vendor. This turns out not only cheaper but also scales up and down easily. As your backend services expand and you need more server space, you can easily avail it. You won’t have to shell out on servers, physical space, and technicians to maintain the servers.

There are other benefits of serverless computing:

  • Scalability: Scaling up or down is never an issue with companies that opt for serverless architecture. Their developers can do limitless coding while the server vendors look after increasing or decreasing system capacities.
  • Easy coding: Independent methods to invoke calls to backend can be written easily by developers. With Function-as-a-Service (FaaS), coding is quick and hassle-free.
  • Faster delivery: The turnaround time for code deployment and bug fixing reduces considerably. Developers can do testing and fixing on piecemeal basis instead of rolling out complicated overhauls.

Serverless computing is an extended service provided by cloud providers. Many leading cloud providers are the major players in serverless computing. They include AWS Lambda, Azure Functions, IBM OpenWhisk, and Google Cloud Functions.

Serverless computing vs. Traditional Computing

The debate of serverless versus traditional computing goes on. Needless to say, both architectures have their pros and cons. But there is a lot of propaganda by cloud vendors claiming serverless computing as the trend to follow.

Let us know how the two structures compare vis-à-vis some important parameters:

Cost Structure

This is a no-contest. Serverless computing wins hands down in the pricing area. Vendors charge you for the number of function executions that you make. You are allocated time slots for running a function. The more executions, more will be your bill. But the greatest saving comes from the staff overheads that you won’t incur now.

Networking

Here, traditional computing scores over serverless computing. Serverless systems require you to set up private APIs. Traditional computing lets you access code via regular IPs. Though this can be a deal breaker, it doesn’t affect the overall cost structure of serverless architecture.

Integrations

If your application depends on using third-party libraries such as for coding or cryptography, you should opt for traditional computing. This is because serverless computing will require you to make these libraries and integrations available within the application, which can make it too heavy and sluggish. But here again all depends on the context. For simple applications, serverless architecture can still make sense with one or two in-app integrations.

Multiple Environments

Setting up multiple environments is easy breezy in serverless architecture. You don’t have to bother about setting up different machines for development, staging, and production. So, in the factor, traditional computing takes a rough beating from serverless computing.

Timeout

Some applications or functions require external referencing or have variable execution times. For such functions, serverless architecture is no good. This is because serverless computing has a stringent timeout of 300 seconds (mostly). Not all applications are able to complete their cycles in this duration. Traditional architecture is a clear winner in timeouts department.

Scalability

Scaling up and down is not an issue with serverless computing. It happens instantly and seamlessly. This can be perceived as an advantage by many, but actually it has a downside. Coders are not able to address and mitigate glitches when new functions or executions are instantiated. This means a lack of control over the proceedings which can be counted as a major drawback of serverless computing.

Key Highlights of Functions-as-a-Service (FaaS)

FaaS are not any different from functions in general. They involve lines of code that feed some input into the system. The input is processed and output is produced.

The difference lies in the execution of functions. In FaaS, each execution can exist in a separate container. You cannot expect the files to be available for successive executions. Each execution is independent and stateless.

Another difference is that FaaS cease to exist as soon as they finish executing. The container in which they’re executing gets scrapped while the function is underway.

FaaS can be externally and directly invoked. Sometimes, an HTTP request or message notification triggers FaaS. Most external invokes are raised by other cloud services.

A serverless architecture typically has the following components:

  1. Web server
  2. FaaS
  3. Security token service (STS)
  4. Database
  5. User authentication

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Serverless Architecture: The Developer’s Perspective

Serverless architecture can be a boon for developers. They can save precious bandwidth that they used to devote in server management and administration roles. Their responsibility and liability reduces by a big margin. They can focus on building the application while the server vendors look after the backend services for them.

Conclusion

So that’s serverless architecture in a nutshell. Stay tuned for more in-depth articles on serverless computing and other related topics.

To know more about iView Labs, kindly log on to our website www.iviewlabs.com and to get in touch with us with your queries and needs just write us an email on  and .

Download the latest portfolio to see our work.