Serverless Architecture for Dummies

Serverless Architecture for Dummies
Welcome to the new era of serverless architecture where the simplicity of the user is now a major part of power computing. If you’ve ever experienced the pressure of server management or the furious times of traditional software deployment, then you’ve just landed in the right place.
The serverless architecture acts like a magic wand that makes all the application creation, deployment, and scaling processes faster. In this article, we will consider Serverless architecture to be the main theme, from the basics to its specifics.

Serverless Computing: The concept and benefits

Serverless computing is like having a personal assistant for your code. Instead of renting an entire server to run your software, you only pay for the specific tasks your code performs. Imagine hiring a chef only when you need a meal instead of keeping one on staff all the time.

Here's how it works:

  • Trigger: Before the event your code will be loaded into the memory while after that the code is activated by the user clicking a button or a new file being uploaded.
  • Compute: The serverless system involves your code in response to the occurrence of the event.
  • Response: Your code does its job and responds. Then, it goes back to sleep until the next event wakes it up.


  • Agility & Innovation

    By using Serverless, you free resources, speed up the development, and move to shorter release cycles, which enables you to be faster.

  • Accelerate time to market

    It takes hours rather than weeks to build and do trial by trial. Promotes development, deployment, and operations in a faster and more secure manner.

  • Scale Quickly using Serverless

    Developers can be the direct users of elastic scaling through the use of infrastructures that are serverless. Serverless platforms are the most flexible because the developer must focus on neither capacity planning nor database allocation. The latter can handle automatically the increase in volume when a certain application receives acceptance and usage as domain-wide as it is possible.

  • Seamless app deployment

    You can take any application on a local machine and run just a single command then the app will launch remotely throughout the globe in the Catalyst Development environment.

  • Focus on apps rather than operations

    Conventional server management entails time-consuming, labor-intensive activities including patch updates and server management. Developers can concentrate on optimizing their application and essential business logic while using serverless. Serverless reduces the need for infrastructure maintenance, relieving developers of the tedious back-end work.

Serverless Computing: Future Trends and Predictions

Serverless computing has become a well-liked method for creating and implementing cloud applications in recent years. Developers can concentrate on building code instead of worrying about maintaining infrastructure thanks to serverless computing. This has resulted in increased scalability, reduced costs, and a quicker time to market. Here are some trends and projections for serverless computing that we may look forward to:
  • Growing Use of Serverless Computing

    A growing number of businesses are turning to the cloud, and serverless computing is one such alternative. By just paying for what they use with serverless, businesses can cut expenses as opposed to purchasing a set amount of processing power. As a result, serverless computing should become more widely used in the future.

  • Increased Machine-Learning Integration

    Machine learning applications are a perfect fit for serverless computing. We should anticipate further synergy between serverless computing and machine learning as the latter becomes increasingly common. As a result, developers won’t need to worry about the supporting infrastructure when creating robust machine-learning apps.

  • Cutting-Edge Computing

    Processing data at the network’s edge as opposed to forwarding it to a central server for processing is known as edge computing. Because serverless computing enables code deployment to devices at the network’s edge, it is a natural fit for edge computing. Reduced latency and quicker processing times may result from this.

  • Mixed Cloud Environments

    A lot of businesses combine cloud-based and on-premises technology. More interaction between serverless computing and on-premises infrastructure is anticipated in the future, enabling businesses to create hybrid cloud environments. By doing this, businesses will be able to profit from serverless computing while keeping control over their in-house infrastructure.

Common Misconceptions about Serverless Computing

  • Serverless Cloud Computing is a New Concept
    Serverless computing is not a new concept. Instead, the route to serverless computing has been long, which explains why the technology is so popular now. Agile methodologies for SDLC, cloud infrastructure, and microservices are not novel concepts. Decades ago, these principles were in the process of virtualization. That could explain why so many technical teams around the world are becoming serverless.
  • There is a security nightmare with serverless
    It’s clear that people are worried about a new toolset’s security whenever one is released. In actuality, serverless computing is more secure than traditional computing, which makes it different from the former. Because this model is not the same as the other, you may anticipate strong security. However, when they hear the word “serverless,” a number of folks working in cloud computing, DevOps, and IT instantly lose their minds. People automatically associate serverless computing with imminent cyberattacks.

    Lambdas in serverless computing typically accept events from multiple sources in AWS when REST API functions are running on servers and use layers upon layers of codes parsing with API requests; however, this does not imply that serverless computing is “extra vulnerable.”

  • The cost of serverless computing is high
    This is untrue since when compared to conventional infrastructure management models, serverless computing can result in significant cost savings. Similarly, when working with domains and services that aren’t ideal for how they operate, serverless could end up costing more. Make sure it satisfies your demands.

    Pay-per-use pricing, which is fundamentally less expensive than the recurring expenses of traditional infrastructure, is the basis for serverless computing. Based on how it handles requests, you may see how it could save you money when taking into account its cost model. This is closely related to the elasticity and scalability of serverless computing for enterprises.

  • Serverless computing does not provide optimal performance
    Some people believe that serverless computing results in longer API response times, however, this is simply not the case. It is a highly versatile technology capable of supporting a company’s activities on numerous levels. Serverless models outperform traditional methods in terms of execution speed. It should also be noted that some characteristics of speed are related to the complexity of a function involved in a specific operation.
  • Complexity lies in managing serverless computing
    A common concern is that serverless computing won’t provide the necessary assistance for managing and developing applications. This is untrue because serverless functions support a wide range of coding languages, including Python, Java, and others. Also, you’ll discover that serverless application management and deployment are made simple by programs like Kibana and New Relic.

Core principles of FaaS

Function as a Service (FaaS) is like having a toolbox full of specialized tools ready to help you whenever you need them. Instead of managing an entire workshop with all the tools sitting idle, you only use the tools you need for the job at hand.

Here's how FaaS works:

  • Function: In FaaS, your code is broken down into small, self-contained functions. Each function does one specific task, like resizing an image or processing a payment.
  • Event-driven: These functions are triggered by events. Events could be anything from a user clicking a button on a website to a new file being uploaded to a cloud storage service.
  • On-Demand Execution: When an event occurs, the FaaS platform executes the corresponding function. It allocates the necessary resources, runs the function, and then shuts down once the task is complete.

Here's how FaaS works:

Let’s say you have a function that generates a thumbnail image whenever a user uploads a photo to your website. With FaaS:
When a user uploads a photo, an event is triggered.
The FaaS platform detects this event and executes the thumbnail generation function. Once the thumbnail is created, the platform shuts down until the next event occurs.

Benefits of Function as a Service:

  • Scalability: FaaS platforms automatically scale up or down based on demand. If many users upload photos simultaneously, multiple instances of the thumbnail function can run concurrently.
  • Cost-Effficiency: You only pay for the compute resources used during function execution. There’s no need to provision or manage servers when there’s no workload.
  • Simplified Development: FaaS encourages modular and focused code, making it easier to develop, test, and maintain applications.
In summary, Function as a Service (FaaS) is a serverless computing model where your code is broken down into small, event-triggered functions that run on demand. It’s like having a toolbox of specialized tools ready to assist you whenever you need them, without the overhead of managing a full workshop.
Serverless Architecture for Dummies Inner-2

Comparison with Monolithic Architectures: Contrasting characteristics, and advantages

Let’s take an example of the MERN Stack Application. The MERN stack consists of four main technologies: MongoDB, Express.js, React.js, and Node.js.
In a monolithic architecture, all these components are typically integrated into a single application:
  • MongoDB: MongoDB is a NoSQL database used for storing data. In a monolithic setup, MongoDB is often used as the primary database for the entire application.
  • Express.js: Express.js is a web application framework for Node.js. It’s used to build the backend portion of the application, handling HTTP requests, routing, and middleware.
  • React.js: React.js is a JavaScript library for building user interfaces. In a monolithic architecture, React is used to create the front end or client side of the application.
  • Node.js: Node.js is a JavaScript runtime environment that allows you to run JavaScript on the server side. It’s used with Express.js to build the backend logic of the application.
In a monolithic setup, all these components are bundled together into a single codebase, and the application is typically deployed as a single unit.

Characteristics of Monolithic Architecture

  • Tightly Coupled: In a monolithic architecture, all components are tightly coupled and dependent on each other.
  • Single Deployment Unit: The entire application is deployed as a single unit, making it easy to manage and deploy.
  • Limited Scalability: Monolithic applications can be challenging to scale, as scaling one component often requires scaling the entire application.
  • Complexity: As monolithic applications grow, they can become complex and difficult to maintain, with long build and deployment times.

Advantages of Monolithic Architectures

  • Simplicity: Monolithic architectures are often simpler to develop, test, and deploy, especially for smaller applications.
  • Centralized Control: Since all components are part of the same codebase, it’s easier to maintain consistency and enforce standards across the application.
  • Reduced Complexity with Regard to Intersecting Issues: With all pertinent data in one convenient location, a monolith simplifies the implementation of workflows involving various application components, such as billing a credit card and creating a shipping label.
  • Improved Scalability: One of the primary benefits of microservices is that they can scale independently. You don’t have to scale a full program if it’s unnecessary; instead, scale a specific element. Furthermore, this form of architecture has no scaling limitations, allowing it to meet your evolving needs.
In summary, while monolithic architectures offer simplicity in the early stages of development, they can become challenging to maintain and scale as the application grows. Serverless architectures, on the other hand, address these challenges by promoting scalability, flexibility, agility, cost-efficiency, and simplicity through a pay-per-use model and independent function/service deployment.

Comparison with Microservices Architecture: Contrasting scalability, complexity, and operational overhead

Microservice architecture is an approach to software development where a large application is broken down into smaller, loosely coupled services, each responsible for performing a specific function. These services are independently deployable, scalable, and can communicate with each other via APIs.
Here’s a simple explanation of microservice architecture:
  • Decomposition: In a microservice architecture, the application is divided into multiple services based on business capabilities or functional areas. Each service is developed, deployed, and scaled independently.
  • Independent Deployment: Microservices can be deployed independently of each other, allowing teams to release updates and new features without affecting the entire application.
  • Polyglot Persistence: Each microservice can use its data storage technology, such as MongoDB, MySQL, or Redis, depending on the specific requirements of the service.
  • Service Communication: Microservices communicate with each other using lightweight protocols such as HTTP/REST or message queues like RabbitMQ or Kafka. This allows for asynchronous and decoupled communication between services.
  • Resilience and Fault Isolation: Failure in one microservice does not necessarily impact the entire system. Each service can be designed to handle failures gracefully and recover independently.
microservice architecture
Operational Overhead Minimal operational overhead. Serverless platforms handle infrastructure provisioning, scaling, and maintenance. The higher operational overhead compared to serverless. Requires managing service instances, containers, networking, and orchestration.
Resource Utilization Optimized resource utilization. Functions scale dynamically based on demand, minimizing idle resources. Resource utilization is more static. Services often run continuously, leading to potential idle resources during low-demand periods.
Cost Efficiency Pay-per-use pricing model. Cost is directly tied to function execution time and resource consumption. Cost depends on the number of service instances, container resources, and infrastructure overhead. May incur costs even during low-demand periods.

Monitoring and Debugging Serverless Applications

Function as a Service (FaaS) is like having a toolbox full of specialized tools ready to help you whenever you need them. Instead of managing an entire workshop with all the tools sitting idle, you only use the tools you need for the job at hand.


  • Metrics Collection: Serverless platforms offer metrics and logs to track the performance and behavior of your functions. Metrics include invocation count, duration, error rates, and resource consumption.
  • Alerting: Set up alerts based on predefined thresholds to notify you of potential issues or abnormal behavior in your serverless functions.
  • Distributed Tracing: Trace requests across multiple functions and services to identify bottlenecks and troubleshoot latency issues in your serverless application.
  • Resource Utilization: Monitor resource utilization, including memory and CPU usage, to optimize the performance and cost-effectiveness of your serverless functions.


  • Local Development: Use local development environments and emulators to develop and debug serverless functions offline before deploying them to the cloud.
  • Logging and Tracing: Implement detailed logging and tracing in your serverless functions to capture runtime information, errors, and exceptions.
  • Remote Debugging: Some serverless platforms support remote debugging, allowing you to attach debuggers to running functions and inspect their state and variables.
  • Error Handling: Implement robust error handling and exception logging in your serverless functions to capture and handle errors gracefully.
  • Unit Testing: Write comprehensive unit tests for your serverless functions to validate their behavior and catch bugs early in the development process.
By implementing effective monitoring and debugging practices, you can identify and resolve issues in your serverless applications quickly, ensuring high availability, performance, and reliability for your users.

Security Best Practices for Serverless Deployments

Authentication and Authorization:

  • Implement strong authentication mechanisms such as OAuth 2.0 or JWT (JSON Web Tokens) for user authentication and session management.
  • Enforce the least privileged access by granting only the necessary permissions to users and services based on their roles and responsibilities.
  • Use role-based access control (RBAC) to manage access to resources and APIs.

Data Encryption and Protection:

  • Encrypt sensitive data at rest and in transit using strong encryption algorithms and protocols.
  • Utilize encryption key management services to securely manage and rotate encryption keys.
  • Implement data masking and tokenization to protect sensitive data from unauthorized access.

Network Security:

  • Segment network traffic using virtual private networks (VPNs), subnets, or firewalls to isolate serverless functions and services from each other.
  • Implement network monitoring and intrusion detection systems to detect and respond to suspicious network activity.
  • Utilize distributed denial of service (DDoS) protection services to mitigate DDoS attacks and ensure the availability of your serverless applications.

Logging and Monitoring:

  • Enable logging and monitoring for your serverless functions and services to track user activity, detect security incidents, and troubleshoot issues.
  • Monitor system and application logs for anomalies, errors, and security events.
  • Set up alerts and notifications to notify administrators of security incidents or abnormal behavior.

Secure Deployment Pipeline:

  • Implement secure CI/CD pipelines to automate the deployment of serverless applications while maintaining security and compliance.
  • Integrate security testing tools and vulnerability scanners into your CI/CD pipeline to identify and remediate security issues early in the development lifecycle.

Security Testing and Auditing:

  • Conduct regular security assessments, penetration testing, and code reviews to identify and remediate security vulnerabilities in your serverless applications and infrastructure.
  • Perform threat modeling exercises to identify potential threats and prioritize security controls accordingly.

Compliance and Regulatory Requirements:

  • Ensure that your serverless applications comply with industry-specific security standards and regulatory requirements (e.g., GDPR, HIPAA, PCI DSS).
  • Implement controls and security measures to protect sensitive data and ensure privacy and confidentiality.
By implementing these security best practices, you can enhance the security posture of your serverless applications and mitigate potential security risks and threats effectively. It’s essential to stay informed about the latest security trends, threats, and best practices to adapt and evolve your security strategy accordingly.

Cost Optimization in Serverless Environments

Cost optimization in serverless environments is all about ensuring that you’re getting the best value for your money while leveraging the benefits of serverless computing. Here’s a simplified explanation:
  • Pay-Per-Use Model: One of the key advantages of serverless computing is its pay-per-use pricing model. This means you only pay for the compute resources consumed by your functions or services, rather than paying for idle resources. Cost optimization starts with understanding and optimizing your usage patterns.
  • Right-Sizing Resources: Serverless platforms offer various configuration options for your functions, such as memory allocation and execution time limits. By right-sizing your resources, you can ensure that you’re not over-provisioning resources beyond what your application needs. This can help reduce costs without sacrificing performance.
  • Optimizing Invocation Frequency: Analyze your application’s invocation patterns and optimize how often your functions are invoked. Minimizing unnecessary invocations and reducing the frequency of executions during low-demand periods can help lower costs.
  • Monitoring and Analysis: Use monitoring and analytics tools provided by serverless platforms to gain insights into your application’s resource usage, performance, and costs. Identify areas where you can optimize resource utilization and reduce unnecessary expenditures.
  • Lifecycle Management: Serverless platforms offer features like function versioning and lifecycle management. Consider using features such as automatic scaling and resource provisioning to dynamically adjust resources based on demand. Implementing function versioning allows you to control which version of your functions are deployed and ensure that older versions are not consuming resources unnecessarily.
  • Use of Managed Services: Leverage managed services provided by serverless platforms for tasks such as data storage, messaging, and authentication. Managed services can help offload infrastructure management tasks and reduce operational overhead, leading to cost savings.
  • Optimizing Data Transfer Costs: Be mindful of data transfer costs, especially when integrating with external services or transferring data between regions. Optimize data transfer by using compression, caching, and content delivery networks (CDNs) where applicable.
By implementing these cost optimization strategies, you can effectively manage and reduce the costs associated with running serverless applications while maximizing the benefits of scalability, flexibility, and agility offered by serverless computing.

Performance Considerations in Serverless Architectures: Latency, Cold Starts, and Optimization Strategies

Performance considerations in serverless architectures involve understanding and optimizing factors like latency and cold starts to ensure efficient execution of functions. Here’s a simplified explanation:
  • Latency: Latency refers to the time delay between triggering a function and receiving a response. In serverless architectures, latency can be affected by factors such as network latency, function execution time, and resource provisioning.
  • Optimization Strategies: To reduce latency, optimize function code for efficiency, minimize external dependencies, and use caching mechanisms where applicable. Utilize geographically distributed serverless platforms to reduce network latency for users in different regions.
  • Cold Starts: Cold starts to occur when a serverless function is invoked for the first time or after a period of inactivity, resulting in increased latency due to the need to initialize resources and containers.
  • Optimization Strategies: Mitigate cold starts by reducing function initialization time through code optimization, using provisioned concurrency to keep function instances warm, or implementing scheduled warm-up events to periodically invoke functions.
  • Code Optimization: Optimize function code for performance and efficiency by minimizing dependencies, reducing execution time, and implementing asynchronous processing where possible.
  • Resource Allocation: Adjust resource allocation such as memory and CPU settings based on workload requirements to optimize performance and reduce execution time.
  • Asynchronous Processing: Utilize asynchronous processing and event-driven architectures to decouple components and improve scalability and responsiveness.
  • Monitoring and Tuning: Continuously monitor function performance, analyze metrics, and tune configurations to identify bottlenecks and optimize resource utilization.
By implementing these optimization strategies, developers can enhance the performance and efficiency of serverless architectures, minimizing latency, mitigating cold starts, and ensuring optimal execution of functions for improved user experience and application responsiveness.

Data Management in Serverless Environments: Handling stateless nature and integrating with databases

Data management in serverless environments involves effectively handling the stateless nature of serverless functions and integrating with databases for persistent storage.
  • Handling Stateless Nature:

    Serverless functions are stateless by nature, meaning they do not retain information between invocations. Each function execution is independent and does not maintain a state between requests.

    To manage state in serverless environments, externalize stateful data to persistent storage solutions such as databases, object storage, or caching services.

    Use stateless session management techniques like JWT (JSON Web Tokens) for user authentication and session handling to maintain user context across function invocations.

  • Integrating with Databases:

    Serverless applications often integrate with databases for storing and retrieving data. Common databases used in serverless environments include NoSQL databases like DynamoDB, document databases like MongoDB, and relational databases like MySQL or PostgreSQL.

    Utilize serverless-compatible database services provided by cloud providers, which offer scalability, reliability, and managed infrastructure.

    Design database schemas and data access patterns optimized for serverless workloads, considering factors like partitioning, indexing, and query optimization.

    Implement efficient data access patterns such as event-driven architecture, asynchronous processing, and batch processing to minimize latency and optimize database interactions.

By effectively handling the stateless nature of serverless functions and integrating with databases, developers can build scalable, responsive, and resilient serverless applications that meet the data management requirements of modern cloud-based architectures.

Migrating Traditional Architectures to Serverless

Migrating traditional architectures to serverless can offer numerous benefits, including improved scalability, reduced operational overhead, and cost savings. Here are the high-level steps for migrating traditional architectures to serverless:
  • Assessment and Analysis:

    Evaluate your existing architecture to identify components suitable for migration to serverless. Assess the scalability, performance, and cost implications of migrating specific components.

    Identify dependencies and integration points between different components.

  • Identify Candidate Services:

    Determine which services or components can be migrated to a serverless architecture.

    Look for stateless, event-driven, and independent components that can benefit from serverless characteristics.

    Identify services with predictable and intermittent workloads suitable for serverless deployment.

  • Refactor or Re-Architect:

    Refactor existing applications and services to align with serverless design patterns and best practices.

    Break down monolithic applications into smaller, more modular components that can be deployed as independent serverless functions or services.

    Redesign workflows and processes to leverage event-driven architectures and asynchronous communication patterns.

  • Choose the Right Serverless Platform:

    Evaluate different serverless platforms (e.g., AWS Lambda, Azure Functions, Google Cloud Functions) based on your requirements, programming languages, and ecosystem compatibility.

    Consider factors such as pricing models, performance, scalability limits, integration capabilities, and vendor lock-in.

  • Data Migration and Storage:

    Assess your data storage and database requirements for serverless applications.

    Choose serverless-compatible data storage solutions such as managed databases, object storage services, or NoSQL databases.

    Migrate existing data to serverless-compatible storage solutions and ensure data integrity and security during the migration process.

  • Integration and Orchestration:

    Design integration patterns and workflows to orchestrate serverless functions and services. Implement event-driven architectures using messaging services, queues, and pub/sub systems to decouple components and handle asynchronous communication.

    Define service interfaces and contracts for seamless integration between serverless and non-serverless components.

  • Testing and Deployment:

    Develop comprehensive testing strategies for serverless applications, including unit tests, integration tests, and end-to-end tests.

    Implement automated deployment pipelines using CI/CD tools to streamline the deployment process and ensure consistency across environments.

    Perform thorough testing and validation of serverless functions and services in staging and production environments before final deployment.

  • Monitoring and Optimization:

    Set up monitoring and logging mechanisms to track the performance, availability, and health of serverless applications.

    Monitor resource utilization, execution times, and error rates to identify bottlenecks and optimize performance.

    Implement cost management and optimization strategies to minimize operational costs and maximize efficiency in serverless environments.

By following these high-level steps, organizations can successfully migrate traditional architectures to serverless, leveraging the benefits of scalability, agility, and cost optimization offered by serverless computing. It’s essential to plan and execute the migration process systematically, considering the unique requirements and constraints of your applications and infrastructure.


In conclusion, we have acquired an understanding of how serverless architecture has re-engineered the development and deployment of applications. We defined the core idea keeping in mind that serverless computing is a mechanism where you can run your applications without handling servers.
However, serverless computing can be a burden to the development and management of apps to companies thus they focus on generating value to their customers without bothering their minds about the burden of infrastructure management.
Ultimately, server-side computing makes it easier to develop and manage applications as well as to target delivering value within the scope of a business.
Correspondingly, serverless computing facilitates the development and management of apps making it possible for enterprises to get rid of infrastructure concerns and have their attention on delivering value.
The essence of serverless computing is that it simplifies the development and maintenance of applications, which allows the organizations to be more focused on adding value, rather than on infrastructure maintenance.
Vikas Agarwal is the Founder of GrowExx, a Digital Product Development Company specializing in Product Engineering, Data Engineering, Business Intelligence, Web and Mobile Applications. His expertise lies in Technology Innovation, Product Management, Building & nurturing strong and self-managed high-performing Agile teams.

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