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Serverless App Development: Ultimate Guide
Blockchain

January 07, 2023

Serverless App Development: Ultimate Guide

Are you ready to revolutionize your app development process? Say goodbye to the traditional server-based approach and embrace the future with serverless app development. 

In this post, we'll dive into the world of serverless architecture, where you can build highly scalable and cost-effective applications without the burden of managing servers. Discover the immense benefits of serverless computing, from increased agility and scalability to reduced infrastructure costs.

From our experience, serverless architecture offers numerous benefits that range from cost savings and simplified scaling to improved agility and fault tolerance. Whether you're a developer, tech enthusiast, or business owner, this post will empower you to harness the full potential of serverless app development.

Understanding Serverless App Development

Before diving into the details, we must understand what serverless architecture entails. From a technical standpoint, serverless applications are ones that are built using cloud-based computing services, allowing developers to delegate infrastructure management responsibilities to the cloud provider. As a result, developers can focus on generating code that addresses specific business requirements rather than spending time and resources on infrastructure management.

Serverless architecture is an innovative approach to developing applications that does not rely on long-running servers. Serverless computing platforms offer compute resources on-demand. This means that applications are only charged for the exact amount of resources used for a particular task, rather than for rigid infrastructure capacity.

What is Serverless Architecture?

Serverless architecture is a way to design and run applications and services without the need for infrastructure management. The serverless model allows developers to focus on writing code that meets business requirements, rather than worrying about infrastructure management. This approach is cost-effective, efficient, and scalable, making it an ideal option for businesses of all sizes.

Serverless computing platforms offer a range of benefits, including:

  • reduced costs,
  • better scalability,
  • faster development timeframes.

By leveraging cloud-based computing services, businesses can reduce their infrastructure costs, since they only pay for the resources they use. Additionally, serverless applications offer better scalability options, since workloads can be distributed across several servers.

Benefits of Serverless App Development

The benefits of serverless apps are numerous. First, they reduce the cost of app maintenance and development since developers are only charged for computing power used. Additionally, serverless applications offer better scalability options since workloads can be distributed across several servers. Other benefits include faster development timeframes, rapid prototyping, and improved agility to meet ever-changing business requirements.

Serverless applications also allow for more efficient resource management, since developers can focus on writing code that meets specific business requirements. This approach allows businesses to be more agile and responsive to changing market conditions, which is critical in today's fast-paced business environment.

Here are some more advantages:

  • Scalability: Serverless architecture allows your applications to effortlessly scale based on demand. With automatic scaling, you can handle sudden spikes in traffic without worrying about infrastructure limitations.
  • Cost-efficiency: Pay only for the actual usage of your application's resources. With serverless, you eliminate the need for provisioning and managing servers, reducing costs associated with idle time.
  • Increased Developer Productivity: Serverless platforms abstract away server management, enabling developers to focus on writing code and building features rather than infrastructure concerns. This boosts productivity and accelerates time to market.
  • Flexibility and Agility: Serverless architecture promotes modular and event-driven designs, enabling developers to create decoupled components that can be easily combined and reused. It empowers teams to iterate quickly, experiment, and adapt to changing requirements.
  • Enhanced Scalability and Resilience: Serverless platforms handle the operational aspects of scalability and fault tolerance, ensuring that your application can handle varying loads and recover from failures automatically.
  • Simplified Operations: Serverless apps relieve you from managing infrastructure, operating systems, and patching. This allows your team to focus on higher-value tasks, such as optimizing application performance and user experience.
  • Improved Time-to-Market: With reduced infrastructure complexities, simplified operations, and streamlined development workflows, serverless apps enable faster development cycles and quicker deployment of new features.
  • Global Availability: Serverless platforms often offer a global network of data centers, ensuring low latency and high availability for your application's users across the globe.

Key Components of Serverless Applications

Serverless applications have several key components that enhance their efficiency, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. These include serverless functions, APIs, and cloud-based storage options.

Serverless functions are the building blocks of serverless applications. These functions are small, self-contained pieces of code that perform specific tasks. They can be easily scaled up or down to meet changing demand, making them an ideal option for businesses of all sizes.

APIs are another key component of serverless applications. APIs allow developers to create custom interfaces that can be accessed by other applications or services. This makes it easy to integrate serverless applications with other systems, which is critical in today's interconnected business environment.

Cloud-based storage options are also an essential component of serverless applications. These storage options allow businesses to store and manage data in the cloud, which is more cost-effective and scalable than traditional on-premises storage solutions.

Choosing the Right Serverless Platform

When building a serverless app, you need to choose the right platform. You have several options, including Amazon Web Services Lambda, Google Cloud Functions, Microsoft Azure Functions, and IBM Cloud Functions, among others. Each platform has its unique features and benefits that cater to different use cases and requirements.

AWS Lambda

AWS Lambda is a popular platform among developers, offering unlimited scalability, pay-per-use pricing models, and multiple integrations, including with popular frameworks such as NodeJS, Java, and Python. The platform is known for its reliability, flexibility, and ease of use. AWS Lambda also offers a wide range of services and tools that can help developers build and deploy serverless applications quickly and efficiently.

One of the significant advantages of AWS Lambda is its ability to handle high volumes of traffic with ease. The platform can automatically scale up or down to meet the demand, ensuring that your application can handle any traffic spikes without any issues. Additionally, AWS Lambda integrates with several other AWS services, such as Amazon S3, Amazon DynamoDB, and Amazon API Gateway, making it an excellent choice for developers who want to build complex and robust applications.

Google Cloud Functions

Google Cloud Functions is another reliable option, offering additional benefits such as automatic scaling, multi-regional deployment, and a secure runtime environment. The platform allows developers to work in familiar environments they are comfortable within their existing codebase. Google Cloud Functions is also known for its ease of use and quick deployment times, making it an excellent choice for developers who want to build and deploy serverless applications quickly.

One of the significant advantages of Google Cloud Functions is its ability to integrate with other Google Cloud services, such as Google Cloud Storage and Google Cloud Pub/Sub. This integration makes it easy for developers to build complex and scalable applications that can handle high volumes of traffic without any issues.

Microsoft Azure Functions

Microsoft Azure Functions offers features such as built-in security and deployment options, hybrid deployment models, and an extensive library of third-party integrations. The platform offers scalability on demand, ensuring that your application automatically responds to traffic spikes and adjusts accordingly. Microsoft Azure Functions is also known for its ease of use and quick deployment times, making it an excellent choice for developers who want to build and deploy serverless applications quickly.

One of the significant advantages of Microsoft Azure Functions is its ability to integrate with other Microsoft Azure services, such as Azure Storage and Azure Event Grid. This integration makes it easy for developers to build complex and scalable applications that can handle high volumes of traffic without any issues.

IBM Cloud Functions

IBM Cloud Functions provides capabilities such as deployment options, simple administration, automatic scaling, and integrated monitoring tools. Additionally, the platform allows for easy integration with numerous third-party services. IBM Cloud Functions is also known for its reliability, flexibility, and ease of use, making it an excellent choice for developers who want to build and deploy serverless applications quickly and efficiently.

One of the significant advantages of IBM Cloud Functions is its ability to integrate with other IBM Cloud services, such as IBM Cloud Object Storage and IBM Cloud Message Hub. This integration makes it easy for developers to build complex and scalable applications that can handle high volumes of traffic without any issues.

Designing a Serverless App

Before building a serverless app, it is essential to identify its use cases. Designing a well-architected serverless app requires planning its architecture and selecting its database, storage, and security frameworks.

Serverless computing is a cloud computing model where the cloud provider manages the infrastructure and allocates resources dynamically to support application requests. It eliminates the need for server management and allows developers to focus on writing code.

Identifying Use Cases

Identifying use cases is crucial to building a serverless app that meets your end-users' requirements. It also helps determine the specific serverless components that should be utilized for the app's development. Use cases can be determined by analyzing user behavior, the app's purpose, and the problems it aims to solve.

For example, if you are building a weather app, you may identify use cases such as displaying current weather conditions, providing hourly or daily forecasts, and sending weather alerts. These use cases will help you determine the necessary serverless components, such as APIs, databases, and storage solutions.

Planning Your App's Architecture

When designing a serverless app, start by sketching its primary components, including its web-based user interface, cloud-based database, serverless functions, third-party APIs, and caching systems.

The architecture of a serverless app should be designed to be scalable, resilient, and fault-tolerant. It should also be designed to handle sudden spikes in traffic or usage.

For example, if you are building an e-commerce app, your architecture should include a web-based user interface, a database for storing product information and customer data, serverless functions for handling payment processing and order fulfillment, and caching systems for improving performance.

Selecting the Right Database and Storage Solutions

Your serverless app needs a database for storing and retrieving data. The right database solution depends on your app's requirements and use cases.

For example, if you are building a social media app, you may choose a NoSQL database like MongoDB because it can handle unstructured data and scale horizontally. If you are building an e-commerce app, you may choose a relational database like MySQL because it can handle complex queries and transactions.

Serverless applications also require cloud-based storage solutions for various purposes, including file storage, cache systems, and backups.

For example, if you are building a media streaming app, you may use Amazon S3 for storing media files and Amazon CloudFront for caching and delivering content.

Managing Security and Compliance

Serverless applications require secure development and implementation to ensure data privacy and security. Consider developing security protocols, testing, and monitoring mechanisms to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

For example, you may implement access controls to limit user access to sensitive data, use encryption to protect data in transit and at rest, and monitor your app for security threats and vulnerabilities.

Building a Serverless App

Building a serverless app is an exciting and rewarding experience. It allows you to create scalable and cost-effective applications without worrying about server management. In this guide, we will go through the steps required to build a serverless app from scratch.

Setting Up Your Development Environment

Setting up a development environment for your serverless app requires creating a respective development setup. You will require the necessary tools and configurations suitable for serverless development. A typical serverless development environment consists of a code editor, a version control system, and a cloud provider account. You can use any code editor of your choice, such as Visual Studio Code or Atom.

Additionally, you will need to install the necessary command-line tools to interact with your cloud provider's serverless services. For example, if you are using AWS, you will need to install the AWS CLI. You will also need to configure your cloud provider account credentials on your local machine.

Writing Serverless Functions

Serverless functions are the core components of your serverless application. They handle specific operations and tasks needed for executing your application's logic. Developing serverless functions involves designing and testing the functions using an efficient framework such as AWS Serverless Application Model (SAM) or Serverless Framework.

When designing your serverless functions, you should aim for small, focused functions that do one thing and do it well. This approach makes it easier to test, deploy, and maintain your functions. You should also consider using a serverless framework that provides a set of pre-built templates and libraries to make the development process faster and more efficient.

Integrating APIs and Microservices

Integrating APIs with your serverless applications enables them to communicate with other third-party services. Your serverless app may require additional microservices on public cloud platforms, which can be done through containerization, such as Docker. Containerization enables you to package your application and its dependencies into a single container, making it easier to deploy and manage your application.

When integrating APIs and microservices, you should ensure that your serverless app follows the principles of loose coupling and high cohesion. Loose coupling means that your serverless functions should not be tightly coupled to other services, making it easier to change or replace those services without affecting your application's functionality. High cohesion means that your serverless functions should be focused on a specific task, making it easier to reuse those functions across different applications.

Implementing Authentication and Authorization

Authentication and authorization protocols are essential components of your serverless application security. Building a secure serverless app requires implementing access identity and authorization management methods to ensure only authorized users interact with your serverless functions and data.

There are several authentication and authorization methods you can use when building a serverless app. One common method is to use JSON Web Tokens (JWTs) to authenticate users. JWTs are a secure and efficient way to transmit authentication and authorization data between parties. You can also use OAuth 2.0 to grant access to third-party applications or services.

Finally, you should always ensure that your serverless app follows the principle of least privilege. This means that your serverless functions should only have access to the resources they need to perform their tasks, reducing the risk of unauthorized access or data breaches.

Testing and Debugging Serverless Apps

Testing and debugging serverless apps present unique challenges in the development process. However, with the right strategies and tools, you can ensure the reliability and functionality of your serverless applications.

Unit Testing

Unit tests help detect and resolve small coding errors, ensuring your serverless app's proper functioning. Using test-driven development (TDD) methodologies is essential to building efficient serverless apps.

Integration Testing

Integration testing combines multiple modules of your serverless app to ensure they function correctly. Consider using DevOps tools such as Jenkins for continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) processes.

Performance Testing

Performance testing ensures that your serverless app can handle different traffic volumes, data loads, and environmental influences to maintain its performance. Load testing tools such as Apache JMeter or Gatling, can help you validate the performance metrics of your serverless app.

Debugging Techniques and Tools

Debugging your serverless app involves identifying its errors and issues. You can use IAC templates, Serverless Framework, AWS CloudFormation, and other serverless debugging tools for an efficient debugging process.

Deploying and Monitoring Serverless Apps

Deploying and monitoring serverless apps are critical steps to ensure smooth operation and efficient management of your applications. Let's explore the key considerations for deploying and monitoring serverless apps effectively.

Continuous Integration and Deployment

Continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) processes are essential steps that ensure serverless apps are tested and deployed quickly. You can use open-source tools such as Jenkins, GitLab CI/CD, or Jenkins X to implement your CI/CD strategies.

Scaling and Optimizing Performance

Serverless technology provides automatic scaling when required, which helps to optimize your apps' performance and usage. Managing performance includes optimizing your serverless application, at both micro and macro levels, and monitoring performance metrics closely to detect and resolve any issues.

Monitoring and Logging

Monitoring is essential to ensure that your serverless app is running correctly and that there are no impending problems. Serverless applications require monitoring and logging tools to cover metrics such as application, infrastructure, and operational performance. Consider using dedicated AWS CloudWatch, AWS XRay, and other third-party monitoring tools to track the performance of your serverless app.

Cost Management and Optimization

One of the most significant advantages of serverless technology is cost management. Serverless apps allow you to pay only for what you use, reducing your total overheads. Consider monitoring your app's consumption rates through AWS Cost Optimization reporting or scenario-based projections. This helps to make cost-saving decisions and optimize your serverless app accordingly.

Serverless Apps built by Artkai team

Artkai is a customer-centric digital product development agency with an expertise in building serverless app. We have several great works we'd like to showcase to demonstrate what businesses can achieve and how the development was going.

Serverless app for trading

One example of a serverless app we at Artkai have built is a mobile trading platform called Huobi. We leveraged serverless technology for cost-effectiveness and agility, with the AWS Lambda platform.

As a result, Huobi gained:

  • $1,2 trillion of accumulative turnover
  • 50% of global share digital asset
  • Numerous new users in 130 countries
03 Huobi_3-min

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Solutions for a travel industry

Our experience, building serverless apps, also includes developing an all-in-one solution for the travel industry called NDA Booking, which leverages serverless technology's backend to provide an array of transportation, accommodation, and experience options to travelers.

It was challenging to create an all-in-one solution for the travel industry that meets the diverse needs of different parties involved requires knowledge of the business, technology, and user behavior.  However, serverless approach let us achieve satisfying results.

NDA Booking — A one-in-one solution for the travel industry one solution for the travel industry one solution for the travel industry one solution for the travel industry one solution for the travel industry one solution for the travel industry one solution for the travel industry one solution for the travel industry one solution for the travel industry one solution for the travel industry one solution for the travel industry one solution for the travel industry one solution for the travel industry one solution for the travel industry our Dashboard – Artkai

Conclusion

Building and deploying a serverless app provides numerous benefits, including reducing infrastructure costs, agility, scalability, and ease of use. Designing and testing serverless apps require identifying use cases, planning application architecture, selecting the appropriate database, storage, and security frameworks, and adopting good application life-cycle management practices.

As an experienced customer-centric digital product development agency with proven track records, Artkai can offer insights, expertise and experience in building serverless app solutions. Contact Artkai today to learn more about our serverless app development capabilities.

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