AUTHOR
Adservio team
DATE
October 7, 2021
CATEGORY
Digital Delivery
How to Build Production Ready Serverless

Digital Delivery

6 min

How to Build Production Ready Serverless

A recent study found that 69 percent of CIOs identified process automation and transformation as the focus of their digital agendas. Serverless will likely be the technology companies use to automate application deployment, scaling, maintenance, and monitoring.

A serverless environment abstracts hardware provisioning from the development process.

This approach frees teams to work on projects that help drive the business strategy. Essentially, it shifts developers from operations to strategists and innovators.

This quick guide discusses how to build production-ready serverless applications and how they can benefit your company.

Why Serverless?

Serverless is a cloud-native development model.

It enables developers to build, test and run applications without dealing with the headache of server management.

serverless architecture

They are located off-site and managed by a third-party vendor.

Benefits

There are several benefits to serverless which make for an efficient development cycle:

  • Faster Deployment Cycles: Serverless applications enable faster deployment cycles which accelerate innovation
  • Automatic Scaling - Serverless applications can scale automatically and quickly using this flexible pay-as-you-go cloud-based infrastructure
  • Reduced Infrastructure Costs - This cloud-based platform minimizes the costs companies would normally spend on infrastructure.
  • Better Observability - Decomposing the application into smaller chunks provides better observability for the application which enables quicker issue detection.
  • Improved Productivity - Without the overhead of infrastructure management, developers can focus more on features that drive the business strategy.
  • Edge Computing - Serverless applications allow developers to deploy services closer to the end user's location to reduce network latency.

Drawbacks

  • Long-running Applications - Running workloads could be more costly in a serverless environment
  • Dependency - Developers are reliant on third-party vendors in this model. They lack control over the environment. Any changes the vendor makes could have a negative impact on applications.
  • Cold Starts - The first function request may take time to load. These cold starts could negatively impact the user experience.

Configure Environments

To reduce the risk of coding errors affecting each environment, developers set up environments to test code before deployment.

The most common environments are development, test, and production.

There are two approaches that developers use to configure these environments for maximum efficiency.

1. Building Production-Ready Serverless Applications Using a – Single Stack Environment

With this approach, the services and infrastructure each share the same environment.

Differentiating the environments during runtime involves using an environment variable or another mechanism developers define.

The benefit of this approach is that it puts everything in one environment. However, failure in one environment could negatively impact production.

Multi Stack

The multi-stack approach uses a separate environment for each service. In this way, developers isolate the code between environments. Changes in one environment don't impact another.

Organize the Repository

Organizing the code repository makes it easier to locate and make code changes, find errors, and separate work between the team. Two common approaches are:

Monorepo (Monolith)

A monorepo organizes all code into a single repository. All services and their resources for the application are contained in one repository. This type of code repository holds many projects. The benefit of this approach is:

  • Better Code Sharing - Having all code in a single repository makes code sharing easier.
  • Increased Visibility - A single repository lets you see all application resources in one location and makes handling dependencies easier.
  • Enhanced Collaboration - Teams can collaborate more effectively with this approach. Everyone has access to the code files and assets.
  • Speed: Changes are faster with this approach as developers only need to deploy one repository to make changes.

The drawbacks include:

  • Increased Complexity - Managing so many services in one application increases the complexity of the application.
  • Less Scalability - Single-repository applications are hard to scale.
  • Slow Builds - Testing the entire repository is time-consuming.
Multi-Repo

A more effective approach to code organization is a multi-repo. With this strategy, teams put each application into separate repositories. The benefits include:

  • Granular Access Control - Code organized this way gives teams better control over each service and code which makes it easier to allocate changes to different groups as needed.
  • Localized Issues - Putting each application in a separate application means issues in one won’t affect another.

However, there are downsides:

  • Difficult to Share Code Across Repositories - Sharing code across repositories can be difficult.
  • Resource Limit Issues - Teams may face resource connection limits. Resource limits occur when several function calls in the code compete for resources.

2. How to Build Production-Ready Serverless Applications Using Automated Deployment

Until recently, deployment was a manual process.

Now, with automated deployment tools, the process is more efficient when it comes.

With automated deployment tools, developers configure the tool with the specific steps required to deploy the application.

The conveniences of this approach include:

  • Time Savings - Automating deployments saves time because developers can quickly start a deployment without needing to intervene.
  • Fewer Deployment Errors - Automated deployments reduce the human error associated with manual deployments.
  • Faster Release Cycles - One advantage of this approach is that teams can make code changes faster and more frequently.

Logging, Monitoring, and Alerting configuration

When evaluating how to build production-ready serverless applications developers need to monitor the application’s performance.

Without a way to monitor the application, the team will have a hard time detecting and diagnosing issues.

The below combination of three functions works together to give teams better insight into the application’s performance.

Logging

Logging refers to recording an ongoing record of the application's events as they happen.

These log files also track failures and state transformation.

Monitoring

Monitoring is evaluating the application's performance during runtime to collect metrics about system performance.

Developers use metrics to troubleshoot performance issues.

Alerting

Alerting is a process offered by many monitoring tools.

Its function is to notify the relevant parties in the event the monitoring process detects an issue or some pre-defined criteria set by the team.

Avoid Excessive Resource Connections

Resources such as HTTPS connections, database connections, and connections to other services are often shared across application functions.

Running too many concurrent functions could limit available resource connections.

Paying attention to how functions share resources is important to avoid application errors because of resources being unavailable.

Shifting to serverless is a helpful strategy to optimize infrastructure and personnel resources.

Companies benefit when developers are freed to focus on strategic initiatives.

For more advice on how to build and configure a serverless environment, contact Adservio team of software professionals.

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