Serverless computing has revolutionized how modern applications are built and run in the cloud. By eliminating the need to manage servers, serverless platforms can accelerate development, improve operational efficiency, and lower costs.
While individual serverless services like AWS Lambda provide valuable features, fully serverless platforms take this approach further. Fully serverless platforms integrate multiple serverless services and other complementary technologies into a unified backend that is easy to use and scales automatically.
The benefits of a fully serverless architecture go beyond what can be achieved by stitching together individual services. By handling the operational complexities of coordinating serverless services, fully serverless platforms allow developers to focus on delivering business value in their applications. Teams can build and iterate quickly without worrying about managing infrastructure.
This post dives deeper into what constitutes a fully serverless platform, its key benefits compared to traditional serverless approaches, useful applications, and some challenges to consider. By understanding what fully serverless platforms offer, you can determine if this architecture is the right choice for your next project. The ability to accelerate development and reduce costs makes fully serverless platforms appealing for many modern workloads.
What is a Fully Serverless Platform?
A fully serverless platform combines managed services into an integrated backend solution. The key characteristics of a fully serverless platform include:
- There are no servers to provision or manage - the platform provider handles all infrastructure needs automatically. Developers just deploy code.
- Auto-scaling - the platform scales services up and down based on demand, so you only pay for what you use.
- Event-driven - app services execute in response to events like API requests scaling adaptively based on the load.
- Abstracts underlying services - the platform handles the complexity of coordinating numerous services.
- Provides a suite of complementary services - e.g., database, authentication, storage, APIs, messaging, and workflows.
- Pay-per-use pricing - usage of platform services is metered and billed based on consumption.
Examples of fully serverless platforms include Kalix.io, Amazon Web Services Amplify, and Microsoft Azure Spring Cloud. These platforms handle the integration and orchestration of various serverless and complementary services under the hood.
This is contrasted with individually provisioning and connecting services like AWS Lambda, DynamoDB, S3, and more. While possible, this piecemeal approach requires significantly more effort and expertise to operate at scale. Fully serverless platforms remove this heavy lifting.
By providing an integrated backend powered by serverless services, fully serverless platforms can accelerate application development and reduce operational overhead for development teams.
Benefits of a Fully Serverless Platform
Adopting a fully serverless architecture brings several advantages over traditional serverless platforms or stitching together individual services:
- Accelerated development - Integrated services allow teams to focus on writing business logic rather than plumbing together backend components. Rapid iteration and continuous delivery is enabled.
- Reduced operational overhead - The heavy lifting of provisioning, scaling, and managing infrastructure is eliminated. Ops workload is lightened.
- Built-in best practices - Fully serverless platforms bake in resiliency, security, compliance, and performance best practices out of the box.
- Cost savings - Usage-based pricing means no paying for idle capacity. Costs scale linearly with traffic rather than pre-provisioned capacity.
- Improved scalability - Platforms easily scale up or down to accommodate fluctuating workloads and traffic spikes.
- Vendor neutrality - Abstraction from the underlying cloud services prevents vendor lock-in. Applications can more easily be ported across cloud providers.
- High availability - Serverless platforms provide native redundancy, failover, and fault tolerance across regions.
By leveraging a fully serverless platform, teams can focus on rapid iteration, new features, and differentiating functionality rather than infrastructure management. The benefits make fully serverless platforms ideal for modern application workloads.
Use Cases and Examples
Fully serverless platforms are well-suited for a variety of modern application architectures:
- Web applications - Serverless platforms excel at handling widely varying traffic levels and scaling frontends. Services like authentication and storage integrate seamlessly.
- Mobile backends - Mobile apps require robust backends that can handle spikes in usage and push notifications. Fully serverless platforms are ideal for these workloads.
- IoT applications - The event-driven nature of serverless computing is optimal for responding to streams of IoT data from connected devices.
- Data processing - Serverless services can run ETL jobs, transform data, and trigger actions based on database changes.
- Real-time applications - Serverless message queues, streams, and functions allow ingesting and reacting to real-time data feeds.
The use cases are endless. Wherever agility, scalability, and accelerated time to market are priorities, fully serverless platforms should be considered.
Challenges and Considerations
While promising, fully serverless platforms do come with some challenges to consider:
- Learning curve - Developers must adapt to architectures and patterns tailored for fully serverless platforms. Rethinking approaches to design and implementation is required.
- Limited flexibility - Fully serverless platforms constrain some choices to follow proven practices and reduce operational burden.
- Immature tooling - Tooling like debugging, monitoring, and alerting is still evolving compared to traditional servers.
- Codebase transformation - Refactoring may be incremental rather than a wholesale rewrite for brownfield apps with large legacy codebases.
- Partial adoption - In some cases, a hybrid approach maintaining sometraditional services may make sense.
- Testing and deployment - Automated testing and CI/CD pipelines may require adaptation for serverless environments.
However, one common concern with serverless does not apply to platforms like Kalix - cold starts. Because Kalix maintains provisioned capacity, it eliminates cold start latency issues plaguing other vendors' serverless offerings.
Fully serverless platforms can accelerate application delivery and lower costs for many modern workloads. For new applications without legacy constraints, they should be strongly considered.
Kalix - A Leading Fully Serverless Platform
As we have covered, fully serverless platforms can provide tremendous advantages for modern applications. One of the most robust and production-ready offerings in this space is Kalix.
Kalix delivers an enterprise-grade serverless platform that combines the best of the public cloud with the security, governance, and reliability required by regulated industries and mission-critical applications.
Key capabilities Kalix provides as a fully serverless platform include:
- Unified experience - Kalix simplifies building complete applications using tightly integrated serverless services and declarative configuration.
- Multi-cloud portability - Applications can be deployed across AWS, Azure, and GCP.
- Predictable performance - Kalix eliminates cold starts by maintaining provisioned capacity pools for fast function execution.
- Enterprise compliance and security - Kalix enables building compliant applications with role-based access control.
- Advanced monitoring - Robust observability, tracing, logging, and alerts for serverless applications.
For development teams looking to leverage the benefits of serverless while maintaining enterprise governance, Kalix is an ideal fully serverless platform. It accelerates delivery and simplifies operations by providing a curated serverless stack in a unified managed service.
Fully serverless platforms represent a significant evolution in cloud-native architecture. By providing integrated suites of serverless services, they can accelerate development, reduce operational overhead, and lower costs compared to traditional servers.
For modern applications that require agility, scalability, and rapid iteration, fully serverless platforms should be strongly considered. Focusing on coding business logic rather than infrastructure management unlocks developer productivity and speed.
However, those with large legacy codebases or monoliths may need to transition incrementally. And some use cases may still warrant traditional servers or a hybrid approach. Fully serverless does require an architectural mindset shift.
Platforms like Kalix demonstrate the enterprise-readiness and maturity of fully serverless for regulated industries. They abstract away cloud vendor complexity while providing scalability, governance, and reliability.
For new projects without legacy constraints, fully serverless platforms enable building robust, production-grade applications faster than ever. By leveraging the benefits while mitigating the challenges, companies can innovate rapidly on a serverless foundation.