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Introduction to Serverless Platform Engineering
Serverless allows developers to write code and build and run applications without any worries about managing the servers. It’s not like there are no servers. There would be some platform where the code should be executed. The advantage is that developers don’t need to care about servers, and a cloud provider will take care of running the application, database, and storage systems.
This has evolved from a basic level, including configuring and maintaining the servers and environments to run the code on. Then moving on to Virtual machines, the ideal time management is much better, but the need to install the Os and patching is still required. The most revolutionary innovation that arrived was the containers, and the deployment activities were significantly simplified by gathering all the dependencies into one space.
Then the advancements came across serverless, where the drawbacks of containers were mainly resolved, like scaling and managing the application. Let’s discuss in detail.
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What is Serverless Architecture?
Servers are the most widely known technological advancements any developer can ask for to deploy the code or business logic and iterate the possibilities to improve the performance. With it's introduction, organizations and developers experienced a smooth transition to improve the practices for building and developing the applications and leave the provisioning to the cloud provider to deal with the ideal time.
Before it's adoption, the onsite team did, managing systems, hardware, and software and rolled out the security updates. Created backups were some challenging tasks the cloud provider has now taken care of. The primary function of the cloud provider is to run the function or the code when triggered. Cloud providers either have a set of Backend-as-a-service (BaaS) or Function-as-a-Service (FaaS) offerings. Although both have some functionality of their own, BaaS provides some pre-built features to help developers focus on the front-end section. On the other hand, FaaS has proven to be more flexible, i.e., developers can work on both the front and back end.
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How Does Serverless Platform Methodology Works?
The streamlined operation steps could be in three significant steps:
Writing and defining code
The initial step consists of the block of code or business logic to be made and uploading the code to the provider’s account.
Setting up the trigger to run the code
When submitting the code to the cloud provider, the only thing required is to set a trigger or switch to run the code. It can be in-app clicks or API calls to start the operations.
Letting the Cloud Provider manage the code with databases and storage
The final step makes it serverless, as the cloud provider will be responsible for provisioning the servers and running the code when triggered.
Serverless vs Microservices
This is the most important and debatable factor, how both of them are differentiated and work:
Microservices are designated with the operations for designing the application, whereas Serverless is associated with the execution of the code or designated as a medium to run the code.
Process of Actuation
Microservices are long-term, always going, and continuously perform multiple functions simultaneously. On the other hand, serverless needs a particular trigger to initiate the processes. It's code only runs when triggered and displayed to the cloud provider.
The objective of Use
Microservices promise the enablement and easy deployment of constantly evolving services that demand high stability and agility for operations. Serverless offers BaaS and FaaS, which let you handle the backend for your programs.
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Why is Serverless Platform Engineering Important?
Reasons to use Serverless Platform Engineering are:
Single Functionality Processes
It encourages the development and execution of code with only a single function. This is because the system prefers a shorter execution time, and the more extensive program is to be broken into smaller components. The objective of smaller components is to make the processes easy and agile. These components are easier to change and easy to deploy with minimal effort.
Self-Contained code execution
Defining all the dependencies and configurations is also a trait that it possesses. Although your code is triggered on a different server, the environment should remain self-contained regardless of the FaaS or serverless containers.
Avoiding Extensive coding and Privacy Issues
It shares the capability to grant permission to a particular function that is required for the execution. This makes it easy to keep your code private or store credentials or confidential information in external environments.
Encourage the use of IaC
This lets you rest assured in case a system breakdown occurs. With the management of the data and code on cloud servers, fast and quick recovery with data protection can let you access the data.
For example:- Suppose you are trying to manage and store your data on the instance at your office like a server. One day the server was down, and there was no recovery backup and no code backup to configure the system. Even if you thought of creating a backup, you need to create an all-new instance to store your data and code in case one of them falls.
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What are the Various Challenges of Serverless Platform Engineering?
Even with all these advancements in the servers and business logic initiatives, some gaps still need to be closed. Similarly, it also has awesome drawbacks or challenges. Let’s discuss some of them:
Loss of Control
Serverless is a software-based cloud service that helps you run your code without any care about the backend processes. The fact is that having no control over the server makes you dependent on the cloud service provider in case any breakdown occurs.
Now, cloud services can integrate functions and provide an experience to run functions across one server. But, the services from one provider are meant to be operated seamlessly.
Little to no security and monitoring capabilities
The way these servers are difficult to test and debug. Similarly, they are also difficult to monitor. The lack of proper monitoring tools makes it challenging to keep track of the processes. Monitoring implementation is only possible with a tool specially configured for the CI/CD pipeline and automatically integrated with the platform and tools.
Since the introduction of Serverless in the current technology world, it has become among the most widely used software development practices and approaches. Serverless Platform Engineering enables a wide range of practices for the developers to optimize their development and deployment approach and empower the organizations with a seamless and smooth workflow.
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