cloud, Microservices

Let’s Talk About Serverless Microservices

“No server is easier to manage than no server,” reads a headline from AWS re:Invent, and rightly so.

Going serverless is ideal to reduce costs and operational complexity. Most companies are implementing serverless architectures to ensure better scalability, agility, and performance.  

As it stands, the top contenders for high-performing enterprise solutions are microservices and serverless. Although both architectures often go hand-in-hand, they are distinct technologies and have different roles in the modern software environment. 

Here is an overview of what serverless and microservices are, how they are related to each other, and why you should deploy a serverless microservice.

What Is Microservices Architecture?

Microservices is a type of architecture to build extensible, flexible, and independently deployable services. It conglomerates the loosely connected services that are built, tested, and deployed independently. This collection of services operates in their environment and interacts with each other via well-defined interfaces.

What Is Serverless Computing?

Serverless is an execution paradigm under which developers can build and deploy the code without comprehending the working of existing infrastructure. It is also known as Function-as-a-Services (FaaS) since the source code inside the functions is assembled by the developers.

Microservices as a Part of Serverless Architecture

Microservices can be deployed in multiple ways; they can be developed using Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), hosted in containers, and be part of serverless architecture. However, microservices are most beneficial when the application is hosted in the cloud with containers or serverless architecture. 

The Difference

A microservice architecture works as a decentralized application under which different smaller modules are responsible for the execution of individual functions. Serverless is a way of running an application. In a nutshell, serverless is one way to host microservices. So, when a code is written for a microservice and set up to run as a serverless function, a “serverless microservice” is created. 

What Is Serverless Microservices?

Serverless microservices are based on the cloud and use serverless functions to perform specific roles within the application. Serverless functions execute small code segments in response to the events. These individual segments are modular and easily scalable, which makes them suitable for microservice-based architecture. Serverless functions can be integrated easily with a range of managed services. They also reduce the cost of microservice implementations.

How Do Serverless Microservices Work?

As elucidated above, serverless microservices are built using serverless functions. They execute small code blocks in response to HTTP requests, database updates, file downloads, and related events. All the underlying infrastructure required to run the function code is managed by cloud providers to enable developers to focus on application logic and reduce operational overheads. 

Such an arrangement can include one or more functions and be deployed at the same time. For example, the shipping services of an eCommerce company can be broken down into different functions. When the order is ready to ship, the event can trigger the validation of the address of the customers. The successful validation can trigger the generation of a shipping label. And the label creation can trigger the final function of the shipping confirmation email to the customer.

Benefits of Serverless Microservices

While serverless microservices leverage all the benefits of serverless architecture, such as improved cost efficiency and less overhead, the core benefit is the ease of combining managed services with serverless functions. 

The functions can be seamlessly integrated with message queues, databases, and API management tools for different use cases in the same ways. It means that the resources and functions used in a microservice can serve as the foundation for other microservices. For example, a validation workflow might use the same components and logic as a workflow of authentication. This provides flexibility and reduces the amount of code to be written while scaling the application. 

It’s noteworthy that serverless microservices are ideal for complex applications as the architecture is easy to scale and manage. When the large application is broken down into several services, each service is event-driven and performs better. At the same time, applications with consistent loads and long-running tasks work better than monolithic systems.

Challenges of Serverless Microservices

Serverless microservices enable businesses to operate in a dynamic environment while accruing high cost-efficiency. However, they also pose some challenges:

Defining Boundaries of Functions

Defining the scope of individual functions within the microservices architecture may be challenging. The teams need to find a balance between assigning functions with clearly defined responsibility and deploying a manageable number of functions.

Performance Optimization

A serverless environment poses some performance issues. For example, cold starts occur when a function is invoked after a certain period of inactivity. Teams can use concurrency provisions to combat cold starts, but it can add up to the costs.

Close Monitoring

While the application may consist of multiple microservices that interact with various resources, it can be challenging to trace requests across the environment, identify the cause of errors, and understand dependencies. Teams need clear visibility of functions, services, and their interactions to troubleshoot serverless microservices.

Get Future-Ready with Serverless Microservices

While both microservices and serverless are beneficial, the million-dollar question is, which is better to prepare for the future? With serverless computing gaining traction in the tech world and microservices architecture being heavily adopted, serverless microservices seem to be the future. 

The quest for better scalability, performance, and agility has opened doors to the advent of serverless microservices architecture. With the right team of experts, you can combine both technologies and leverage maximized benefits for your business. Talk to us about your requirements today.

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