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Serverless makes building web-based software easy

With serverless technology, software engineers don’t have to spend their valuable time on the infrastructural concerns of their applications. Instead, they use a cloud-native solution that’s reliable, secure, maintainable, and can handle millions of users. Xebia consultant Wietse Venema is a big fan. He’s even writing a book about Serverless Applications, that’s is why we decided to ask him a few questions!

What is serverless?

“Serverless takes a lot of the toil out of building web-based software. As an engineer, you no longer have to worry about the infrastructure your code runs on; which is still a very time-consuming part of application building.”, Wietse explains.

“With serverless, you can focus on the purpose of your application, on what it has to do for the organization you’re working for. Recently, I built a serverless application for an Amsterdam-based startup that analyzes brain scans with AI. This application allows radiologists to diagnose faster. Where I could, I used serverless technology, so I could focus completely on building a reliable system that will be easy to maintain going forward.”


Sounds great. But how does it work?

“As an engineer, you build on top of a serverless platform. This means that you can spend more time writing code, and less time configuring and testing the infrastructure it runs on. And, as an added bonus, you get to run on a platform with great availability and scalability. This last feature might, for example, be interesting for the app of the Eurovision Songfestival. Such an app must process millions of visitors in a relatively short timespan. It’s bloody hard to build an application like that on traditional infrastructure. Serverless architecture is able to scale within seconds.”

You expect that serverless will become mainstream in the next couple of years. Why?

“Serverless has been around since 2008, but it has been vendor dependent ever since. After uploading code to such vendors, you will never know exactly what they do in order to make your application work. I, and many other engineers, don’t like that. We want to know what exactly is happening with our code. The recent launch of Google Cloud Run might be the tipping point: Google is the first vendor to use open standards for serverless applications. This isn’t just more transparent, but it also makes it easier to, if necessary, get the complete code of the application and deploy it in your own data center.”

This year, your book about Serverless Applications will be published. Why did you decide to write it?

“I like to start things that seem impossible. And writing 250 pages is a hell of a job, haha. Besides that, writing a book has always been on my bucket list. As a teenager, I even participated in literature writing contests. When I realized that serverless applications were gaining momentum I pitched a proposal to O’Reilly, one of the leading tech publishers in the world. They liked it immediately. And here at Xebia, they were also pretty excited. They even were so generous to let me work on my book on company time.”

How does writing a book about serverless application benefits your work as a consultant for Xebia?

“My book is a practical guide for getting started with Google Cloud Run. Readers will learn how to be productive with serverless technology and will build and explore several example applications. Writing this book helps me to structure and sharpen my message on serverless architecture. Taking a deep dive in such a technology, of course, not only benefits my own skills for building serverless architecture, but it will also help me to convince our clients to start investing in it.”

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