Run your own serverless

Serverless has been a hot topic for a while, but really it has been available to developers for ages. What is it? Where is it? and can you work without it?

Serverless has servers

What is serverless?

A developer platform where you do not specify servers, just the dependencies. Sometimes referred to as Platform as a service (PaaS)

This enables customers to provision, run and manage a bundle, without managing infrastructure.

What that really means is your application microservice is bundled with a configuration file within or nearby. This config file specifies the environment your code expects to run it.

Specifications such as:-

  • amount of CPU
  • amount of Memory
  • core dependency, such as Programming language

There is usually some sort of environment boot file, so the program dependencies can be loaded with manager. In Heroku this is specified in the repo by the Procfile

web: gunicorn gettingstarted.wsgi

In this example, the Profile specifies a web worker (one that response to web requests). There are other types for backend type workers. This is then deployed via Heroku cli and git. The Heroku platform will provision and deploy it.

For an AWS example, lets look at one specified in AWS Lambda.

In this scenario, we define the code as a Lambda Function. We need three things:

  • a Zip with the code in it
  • specify the runtime, Python 3.9 for example
  • the function name to call with the event payload

These are then triggered by events. For a web application, a web request via AWS API Gateway.

Serverless might be complicated

Is it really that old?

The first platform available was Zimki in 2006. This developer experience has been emulated many times.

platform Founded HQ
Cloud Foundry 2011 VMWare
Heroku 2007 San Francisco 2010 Paris

Can I run a serverless service?

Of course serverless just means someone is looking after the infrastructure and servers, just not the developers.

If you are looking after a Docker service, then you could call that serverless. After all you don’t really care about the servers, as long as they can run Docker.

So in summary, Serverless is about the experience of the user. From the simple Heroku, to the slightly more involved AWS Lambda.

I would love to hear about the environments you look after, let me know. You can find me on Slack.