Guide to Serverless

About this guide

This guide was created to help you better understand "serverless " as an approach to building and architecting applications.

This guide covers some of the main basic questions, but if you feel there are still some questions that haven't been answered for you, let us know and we will try and update the guide and make it better for everyone.

What is serverless and what does it mean?

Serverless means that there are no servers you have to manage to run a particular service or an app. Usually, in Serverless architectures you rely on services that are managed for you. Be that function-as-a-service, storage-as-a-service, and others. Using managed services means that all the maintenance and operational tasks are abstracted away. Yes, there are still servers there, but they are no longer your responsibility to manage.

What is a serverless application?

A serverless application is one that is architected in a way where there are no containers or servers that you need to install, configure and later on manage or scale. Serverless applications run on services, instead of servers. In practice, this means that there is a reduced focus on infrastructure and an increased focus on business logic.

What is a serverless backend?

Backend is part of the application that is processed on the server and not on the client. In the case of a serverless backend, the server-side is actually processed in the cloud using a service. A service is typically a function, such as AWS Lambda. Therefore a serverless backend is a backend powered by a service instead of a server.

Why serverless is the future of development?

Serverless removes complexities around managing infrastructure and frees up developer resources. Developers no longer need to deal with configuring and installing different tools that their application requires, as those are now abstracted away as a managed service. In return, developers spend more time building business logic and less time on installing, configuring and maintaining infrastructure. This also means that products get faster to market and cost less to develop. All these advantages are driving the adoption of serverless and, over time, serverless will be the standard of how all applications are built.

What is a serverless website?

A serverless website runs on services like function-as-a-service, storage-as-a-service, and others. In its stack, it doesn’t have servers that need to be installed, configured or managed. That is, there are still servers, but they are managed by the service provider, such as AWS.

What is serverless development?

Serverless development refers to architecting and building applications using managed services. The code that is written gets deployed to a service, instead of a server, where it's then executed. Serverless development often comes with certain challenges as not all services can be installed and run locally on a laptop, so often an Internet connection is needed.

What are serverless functions?

Serverless functions are functions deployed to a function-as-a-service, such as AWS Lambda, Azure Functions or GCP Cloud Functions. Serverless functions by their nature are stateless. Once the function executes it gets deleted, together with its current state. Other features of serverless functions are that they are usually billed per execution and have (almost) unlimited scale.

What is serverless architecture?

Serverless architecture refers to the application architecture model where the underlying application runs all of its operations, including its business logic, on a set of services. Architecting applications in such a way comes with many advantages such as zero servers to manage, less time spent on infrastructure maintenance, better scalability factors and, in some cases, a much better cost model, one driven by usage.

What is serverless computing?

Serverless compute refers to function-as-a-service (FaaS). In practice, this is a service to which you upload your code and the service executes the code on a specific trigger and returns the response.

FaaS functions are stateless, they can be scaled (almost) indefinitely and offer a pay-per-request cost model. An additional advantage is that you don't need to manage a fleet of servers, load balancers or worry about networking rules. Because of these benefits, FaaS is one of the top serverless offerings.

Typical FaaS providers are services AWS Lambda, Azure Functions or GCP Cloud Functions.

What is Serverless Framework?

Serverless Framework is an open-source library that simplifies the deployment of your serverless infrastructure. The framework is created by Serverless Inc and it’s published under the MIT open-source licence.

Serverless Framework allows you to define your configuration using a YAML file, and then the provided CLI creates the required resources. Under the hood, Serverless Framework uses AWS Cloudformation.

There is a newer iteration of Serverless Framework called Serverless Components. This library, instead of using Cloudformation, uses native cloud SDK to create the infrastructure. As a result, the deployment times are significantly shorter, in some cases it’s up to 25X faster than Serverless Framework.

What is Aurora Serverless?

Aurora is an AWS product in relational database service category. It’s a managed MySQL-compatible database. Aurora serverless is an iteration to the standard Aurora service where the compute part of the service is managed through an auto-scale feature. When the database instance is under a heavy load, additional compute resources are introduced automatically to handle the increased load. When there is no load, all the compute resources are removed. This way of operating the database comes with many benefits such as scalability, cost-effectiveness and operational simplicity.

What is a serverless CMS?

Serverless CMS is a content management system architected to operate inside a serverless environment. This means that to run such a system you don’t need to install, configure or manage any servers. A serverless CMS such as Webiny runs on AWS Lambda, S3 and API Gateway services. Such an architecture allows the system to scale in and out much faster than traditional virtual servers, and it has a lower management cost when compared to containers.

Webiny free to use and released under the MIT open source license.
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