Building a Serverless Web App: Why You Should Consider the Monolith
The differences between serverless microservices and monolithic approaches to software development.
- Serverless Computing
- Monolith Applications
- Monolithic Limitations
- Serverless Web Apps and Monoliths
When it comes to scaling up IT operations, it can be difficult to do within the limitations of software development applications like Monolith. Transitioning from a traditional monolithic to a more modern serverless microservices approach can be one of the best decisions development teams can make in terms of runtime, resources, and cost savings.
Here, we discuss the differences between serverless, microservices, and monolithic approaches, along with the pros and cons of each.
Table of Contents
- What is Serverless Computing
- Flexibility of Microservices
- What is a Monolith Application?
- The Limitations of the Monolithic Approach
- Serverless Web Apps and Monoliths
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Serverless Web App Development: Making the Move From a Monolithic to Microservices Approach
There has been a recent trend in microservice applications that has been a transformation for everything from information technology (IT) at the enterprise level to a company’s entire digital architecture. This shift from the single-unit monolithic approach to the multiple application microservices approach of software development has been monumental.
What is Serverless Architecture for Web Applications
The concept of serverless computing can be confusing even to those with experience in information technology. When there are talks of using serverless computing, most non-techy people tend to think it’s simply cloud applications. Others think it involves applications that have backends run by third-party cloud provider services. The serverless framework runs in the cloud, but it’s not totally serverless due to popular belief. In other words, the apps are run on servers, but a third party manages the servers. The serverless approach is when a single unit application is split up into several to hundreds of independent services. These independent frontend services are known as microservices, and each has its own database, logic, and function. AWS Lambda Function, Google Cloud Functions, and Microsoft Azure Functions are popular examples of serverless computing.
The flexibility of Serverless Microservices Web App Development
The power of serverless lies in its flexibility. Microservices are made of components that include cloud technologies, integrations, and APIs. Based on a business-oriented API gateway, microservices can be used in variable contexts, whether business services, touchpoints, or processes. There is minimal dependency among services so that any changes that need to be made to the web application don’t affect other services and go unnoticed by customers. When running microservices, one can benefit from using serverless application containers to contain the environment for software development.
What is a Monolith Application?
In contrast to serverless computing with its microservices, a monolithic application has only a single unit. There are three main parts of enterprise applications: a database, a user interface, and a server-side application. The server-side application handles all HTTP requests, retrieves information from the database, and then sends HTML to the browser to view the client-side user interface. Everything happens within an independent unit and program on a single platform separate from all other applications.
Benefits of a Monolith Web App Approach
As a single unit architecture, monoliths allow for the code base and data to be processed quickly because it doesn’t have to interact with many other applications. This also makes it easier to work on the application as it has fewer components and variables to work with. It’s a simpler and faster approach than other development environments. In contrast, when changes need to be made, software developers focus on an entire server-side application rebuild. Even though a smaller portion of the architecture made needs to be modified, when one part is changed, it will affect the other parts. Similarly, if one part goes down, the whole thing goes down. So, in some instances, it can be seen as not very reliable. Any change to the technology stack can be expensive as it will need to be done throughout the architecture. A single code-based approach that acts along a linear structure can benefit smaller apps but a downfall for growing businesses looking to scale to larger apps and more complex systems.
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The Limitations of the Monolithic Approach
For small IT and software development teams, the monolithic approach is often the go-to method of building software. On the surface, from a business logic standpoint, this approach seems practical because it involves only a single codebase capable of communicating and using shared libraries. While this is a tried-and-true method, growing teams can run into problems. Following are some of the limitations to using monolithic applications:
- Monoliths can get so muddle that developers fail to understand the application.
- Monoliths don’t have the capability of being reused.
- Monoliths present challenges when it needs to be scaled up.
- Monoliths lack agility due to the need for repeated deployment of application artifacts.
- Monoliths use a single development stack that’s limiting for some jobs.
Serverless Web Apps and Monoliths
Serverless platforms make use of monolithic approaches by breaking down the monolith into independent services that operate separately. In this way, software development teams don’t have to worry about scaling up, delivering new features, and other revenue-generating apps, as shown in several use cases. There are a number of advantages to this complex approach:
- Microservices are small and more easily handled by software developers.
- Microservices is capable of reuse by other services and applications.
- Microservices have independent artifacts so that each service can be scaled independently.
- Microservices allows developers to use the right framework for the job.
- Microservices drives faster and more productive development.
- Microservices paves the way towards building autonomous, cross-functional teams.
What About Micro Frontends?
Scaling applications on the frontend can be a challenge in a traditional monolithic architecture environment. Microservices allow for the breaking down of the monolith into parts that developers can easily work on. Because the parts act as independent units, any number of teams can work on individual units within a platform without affecting other units that may be worked on simultaneously. However, the entanglement of the two approaches can present issues. That’s where micro frontends come into the picture. Micro frontends especially allow for incremental upgrades rather than the need to do a complete rewriting of the monolith code bases. In this way, little modification is required of the old code, and focus can be placed on modifying small parts of the program. These smaller parts are much easier to work with in terms of application and software development. Like microservices, the units can be deployed independently. This is a huge advantage when IT teams face very large and complex software development projects. This web applications approach greatly increases the productivity and efficiency of the development teams.
Questions to Ask Before Considering the Move to Serverless Web Apps
- Does your IT team have expertise in Microservices development?
- Have your architectural needs and app development plans been clearly defined?
- Is the right infrastructure in place to employ serverless web apps?
- Have you considered the development environment to use in place of the existing local environment?
- Do you have a plan for how to handle extensive error logs to be able to react to and address issues quickly?
- Are you comfortable with relinquishing all control of the server to third-party managers?
In summary, it’s clear to see how the serverless-based monolithic approach can substantially increase cost-savings, efficiency, agility, resilience, and revenue for a business. While serverless web apps that take a monolithic approach can be the best and fastest way to develop software, it’s important for developers to understand that an increase in flexibility involves more complexity. As such, IT teams need to ensure that their services are being carefully managed and monitored at all times.
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