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Are you really building a serverless system?

Serverless computing (or simply “serverless”) is an up-and-coming architecture choice in software development organizations. There are two flavors of serverless computing: back end as a service, which provides app developers with APIs for common services such as push notifications, and function as a service (FaaS), which allows developers to deploy code (“functions”) in the cloud that executes in response to events, without having to worry about its execution environment, be it servers or containers.

When developers use FaaS, the cloud provider is responsible for automatically deploying the function and scaling it as the workload changes. In this article, I focus on the FaaS flavor of serverless and use the “FaaS” and “serverless” terms interchangeably.

Serverless proponents claim that it makes the development and deployment of software easier, faster, and cheaper than ever. Serverless architectures enable development teams to focus on business value, rather than operational overhead. But sometimes, in the rush to adopt a promising new architecture, organizations lose track of the goals of serverless architectures—a common problem with architectural paradigm shifts. As a result, the systems they build don’t quite deliver on the benefits or are more challenging to maintain than they should be. Just because your code implements a FaaS interface doesn’t mean you are doing serverless right.

Before I dive into some ways serverless implementations go wrong, let’s take a step back and ask what you are trying to achieve by using FaaS. What is really your goal here?

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