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Advantages Of Building Serverless Applications On AWS

When organizations keep growing, their technologies and ecosystems are bound to expand. Managing architecture becomes a challenge to companies. A lot of time is spent on managing a platform whereas ideally, time and resources must be utilized for applications and development. The best alternative for this is the adoption of serverless architecture.

But the million-dollar question is- Is it suitable for your company? Should you go the serverless way?

Companies are preferring to go with serverless applications as it can be installed quickly, frequently and more efficiently. Amazon’s AWS Serverless Application Model is a revolutionary feature in this space. Developers are finding it easy to create, access and install applications, owing to simple code samples and templates.

In this blog, let us figure out why companies prefer to go serverless, the technology involved and the benefits of AWS Serverless Application Model.

What is AWS SAM?

AWS SAM or Amazon Web Services Serverless Application Model SAM is an open-source framework where you can set up serverless applications on AWS. It comes with a template specification to specify your serverless application and a CLI (Command Line Interface) tool.

Application architecture uses AWS Lambda, Amazon DynamoDB, AWS Amplify Console, Amazon Cognito and Amazon API Gateway.

Amplify Console implements continuous deployment and assembling of static web resources like JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and image files which gets loaded in the user browser. JavaScript is executed in the browser. It sends and receives data from a backend API installed using Lambda and API Gateway. To secure the public backend API, Amazon Cognito maintains authentication functionality and user management. Lastly, DynamoDB stores data with the help of Lambda functionality.

Does Serverless Means “No Server”?

Few years ago, it was a chaotic environment in companies with too many people and servers involved. Later, companies discovered the possibility of creating serverless application, especially on AWS.

Serverless doesn’t imply that there will be no server. It simply suggests that serverless is an infrastructure that enables applications to be hosted by a third-party service, while mitigating the need for server hardware and software management at the consumer’s end.

Why Go Serverless?

In the past, all business processes – even very basic and infrequently used ones – needed to have a server or container running 24/7 to listen for requests. Many tech users are familiar with serverless computing but they are not fully aware of its advantages over software implementations.

With AWS Serverless Application Model you don’t have to worry about configuration of services. AWS handles application code. You are saving architecture management issues and get ample opportunity to give better customer service.

Building a Serverless Application

Serverless applications development involves a cloud service provider where the server’s details and functionalities are fully managed. Maintenance has proven to be easier and efficient with cloud.

While coding for Serverless applications, make sure that the processes are broken down into small and separate functions and then coupled together. But this could lead to more code changes, which means more update to functions and more file uploading throughout the project lifecycle. Coupling these functions together means extra effort and troubleshooting in the console. This is both time consuming and leads to lot of errors.

A code framework can support during such trying tasks. Serverless Application Model (SAM) of AWS is an open-source tool where it is easier to streamline existing services like AWS Lambda, API gateway and DynamoDB. Since CLI tool has already created a repository framework and pipeline, you do not need a developer to do that.

You can see the code in the real world as quickly as possible at cheaper costs. Whoa!

AWS SAM works well for both larger and smaller projects as well.

Once the project is launched in AWS SAM, a folder structure is built for the user. This structure has Lambda functions, code tests and a template file (created on CloudFormation of AWS). The code and configurations are simplified in CloudFormation. Features like DynamoDB tables, S3 buckets, Lambda functionalities, all associated IAM permissions, SNS, SQS or API Gateway triggers are created to make tracking the metrics and workflow simple and seamless.

AWS SAM can be directly built and deployed from the CLI tool with a command. Functionalities can be tested locally. Any cloud user can get used to AWS services and, technologies with simple CLI installation instructions.

Serverless applications can be built with various types of AWS services put together. Post configuration, the applications’ code can be transferred to a serverless computing service alike AWS Lambda.

Is Going Serverless Worth It?

Developing serverless applications can be shaky given that there will be shifts in development flow and time taken by users to get comfortable with AWS services. It is definitely not easy to develop entire serverless applications in one go.

But the best part is AWS services can be independently implemented. Start with transitioning just one API or install Amazon Cognito and explore the surplus features offered by AWS Serverless.

Nearly all AWS services use an elastic cost model where you pay only for the services you used. Here you can scale the services in size to meet the demands of differing resource utilization.

What Does AWS Serverless Platform Provide?

AWS system manages all the back-end tasks like storage, computing, databases, processing and more, giving the user scope to concentrate on his program and innovation.

Apart from the above-mentioned components, AWS Serverless Computing handles the following:

  • Amazon S3 Storage
  • Amazon Kinesis Analytics
  • Amazon SNS for Application Integration
  • AWS Step Functions for Orchestration
  • AWS Identity and Access Management for Security and Access Control
  • AWS Developer for tools and services

Benefits of AWS Serverless Application Model

  • Single-Deployment Configuration – With AWS SAM, it becomes easy to function as a single stack because of coordination of related resources and components. AWS SAM allows you to share configuration information such as memory or timeouts amongst resources and set up all those resources that are related into a single unit.
  • AWS Cloud Formation Extension – With reliable deployment capacities of AWS Cloud Formation, you can define and use the full suite of resources, in-built functions, and other template factors that are available in the system.
  • In-Built System – AWS SAM can be used to interpret and install infrastructure as AWS Config. AWS Code Deploy helps in enforcing best coding practice and reviews. Tracing can be enabled by using AWS X-Ray.
  • Local Debugging and Testing – Applications that are established by AWS SAM templates can be built, tested and debugged locally by AWS SAM CLI. CLI tool yields Lambda kind of executable environment on local. To understand and debug the code you can use AWS toolkits such as AWS Toolkit for JetBrains, AWS Toolkit for PyCharm, AWS Toolkit for IntelliJ and AWS Toolkit for Visual Studio Code. This practice will strengthen your feedback loop by allowing you to detect and troubleshoot issues at an early stage before it runs in the cloud.
  • Integration with Development Tools – New applications can be discovered and used from AWS Serverless Application Repository. AWS Cloud9 IDE can be used for authoring, testing and debugging the applications. CodeBuild, CodeDeploy and CloudPipeline can be used to build a deployment pipeline for serverless applications. AWS CodeStar can be used for code repository, project structure and CI/CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery). These can be automatically configured. For installation, Jenkins Plugin is used. Stackery.io toolkit is used to build production-ready applications.

Other advantages of using AWS Serverless Application Model are:

  • With AWS SAM there is no need of software installation, runtime check, management, or server maintenance.
  • Scaling of application happens automatically by toggling only units of consumption like memory and throughput.
  • Serverless Applications are aided with availability and fault tolerance built-in services.
  • You are charged only for what is used and not when code isn’t running. Idle capacity need not be paid.

Bottom Line

The opportunities that AWS Serverless application provides are endless and may alleviate a lot of overhead that can result from provisioning, managing and maintaining servers. Since every application is different, it boils down to whether the pricing and time saved by letting go of server management can be beneficial for your business use case.

Swathi Ramaswamy

About the Author

Swathi is a senior marketing strategist at Embitel Technologies. A former techie has now found her forte in content & marketing. Bohemian soul with a passion for reading, writing, gourmet, and old-world charms. When not working she is goofing around with her kid or couch potato-ing with books & movies.

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