Has your company attempted and failed to deploy an application in the cloud? If so, you've probably found the challenges associated with moving from SaaS to PaaS or IaaS cloud computing difficult to overcome. With SaaS cloud computing, you always know what you're getting - a complete application that's reliable, ready to use and managed by someone else. The problem with SaaS, though, is that it often provides insufficient room for customization. If a SaaS application doesn't work for your specific business processes, you have no remedy except to develop your own application - and that's when the headaches begin.
The Promise - and the Pitfall - of PaaS and IaaS Cloud Computing
If you've ever attempted to deploy a monolithic application in the cloud, you already know about the potential benefits of PaaS and IaaS. Infrastructure as a service gives you access to unlimited computing power that scales seamlessly when needed. It can even keep your costs down since you pay only for the resources that you actually use. If you don't want to manage the underlying infrastructure, a platform as a service gives you similar flexibility while allowing you to concentrate solely on application management.
The benefits of cloud-based application deployment seem almost limitless until the time comes to prepare for the cloud migration. That's when you realize that you're entirely unprepared because you don't know which database products and containers to use and you don't know how to utilize autoscaling to manage the underlying infrastructure efficiently. You come to the realization that deploying a monolithic application to the cloud isn't the best way to maintain the agility that a modern business requires - and your company lacks the resources to effectively manage DevOps in the cloud.
How Serverless Computing Enables Agile Application Deployment
To understand what serverless computing can do for your company's cloud-based application, you must first understand what microservices are and how they can give your organization the agility it needs to maintain an application that's in a constant state of development, testing and deployment.
The Drawbacks of a Monolithic Architecture
With a traditional monolithic architecture, an application contains all of the code needed to make its functions work. When you add a new feature to the application, a bug in the code could potentially break one of the application's other features. Your developers have to test the entire application before approving a new feature for deployment.
A monolithic application has a slow development cycle, and deploying an update often halts production temporarily because updating the application requires overwriting all of the existing code. Monolithic design doesn't capitalize on the strengths of the cloud.
Microservices Make Agile Application Deployment Possible
With a microservice architecture, each of an application's key features is a single service that exposes itself via an API and runs in a virtual cloud instance when an application triggers it. The core application essentially becomes a series of API calls, and the microservices do all of the heavy lifting. For example, the ability to process a credit
card transaction might be one of the microservices in an application designed for online sales.
The primary benefit of a microservices architecture is that it enables a short application deployment cycle. You can modify one of the features in the application by modifying the associated microservice. Since you're only modifying one microservice, there's far less code to test before you can approve the modification for deployment. If a problem appears after deployment, it only affects that microservice; the rest of the application remains stable
and available for use.
A microservice architecture simplifies the process of adding or modifying an application's features, shortens the testing stage and makes it possible to build a cloud-based application that's always ready to handle changing business needs.
AWS Lambda: The Latest Development in Serverless Computing
Amazon Web Services has long been among the most important players in the cloud services industry. If you have a good managed service provider to help with the complexities of infrastructure management, virtualization and platform monitoring, AWS can provide the cloud platform necessary for a DevOps environment that's ready to handle any load and tackle any modern business challenge.
AWS Lambda is an Amazon cloud service that uses virtualization technology to host your code in a lightweight environment that doesn't require a full virtual machine instance and takes milliseconds to boot up. Since the AWS Lambda container technology spins down fully when you aren't using it, it's an affordable way to power an application with a microservice architecture.
When you use Lambda for microservices, you'll create a microservice and upload it to the Amazon cloud. Linking the code to the Amazon API Gateway allows you to trigger the microservice from your application by accessing the exposed API. As usage of your application increases, usage of the API may increase. Lambda scales seamlessly by running as many concurrent instances of your code as are necessary to satisfy demand.
Amazon charges Lambda customers by usage. You'll pay each time Lamba executes your code. You'll also pay for every 100 ms of time needed to process the code. When Lambda isn't processing your code, you'll pay nothing.
The Importance of a Managed Service Provider
Although Lambda has the potential to enhance the agility with which your company develops and deploys an application, it is only one part of an effective cloud setup. You still need the API endpoints for accessing the microservices. You'll likely also need a database instance and storage infrastructure. Often, companies find themselves overwhelmed when they initially attempt to implement DevOps in the cloud. A managed service provider can help you choose the right cloud services for your application, get your application running and minimize the cost of your company's cloud transformation.