June 21, 2016

Serverless Architectures

Like many trends in software there’s no one clear view of what ‘Serverless’ is, and that isn't helped by it really coming to mean two different but overlapping areas:

  1. Serverless was first used to describe applications that significantly or fully depend on 3rd party applications / services (‘in the cloud’) to manage server-side logic and state. These are typically ‘rich client’ applications (think single page web apps, or mobile apps) that use the vast ecosystem of cloud accessible databases (like Parse, Firebase), authentication services (Auth0, AWS Cognito), etc. These types of services have been previously described as ‘(Mobile) Backend as a Service’, and I’ll be using‘BaaS’ as a shorthand in the rest of this article.
  2. Serverless can also mean applications where some amount of server-side logic is still written by the application developer but unlike traditional architectures is run in stateless compute containers that are event-triggered, ephemeral (may only last for one invocation), and fully managed by a 3rd party. 

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