Serverless sounds cheesy

April 10th - Lausanne, a beautiful city with panoramic scenery on the shore of Lake Geneva, surrounded by breath-taking views of the snow-covered Alp peaks and UNESCO-listed Lavaux vineyard terraces becomes a setting of a virtual alien invasion.

Zombie Attack

At the Swisscom Digital Lab @ EPFL, one of western Switzerland’s centres of technology innovation and digitalization, we are under Zombie attack. Nothing to worry though, it is only an AWS Lambda workshop to put your hands on serverless and microservices architecture. The objective is to build a survivor chat application for those among us who survived the zombie apocalypse. (Spoiler alert – everyone survives … at least for today)

The metaphor might be very surreal, but the cloud components we used and the skills we needed for the hands-on defence scenario were very much real and deployed on bleeding edge serverless technology! It is literally the key to competitive advantage in relation to price for tomorrows’s companies! Yes, this is why so many companies are interested in this Technology.

 

Serverless does sound cheesy though, what exactly is it?

For sure, there is a server somewhere and someone is maintaining it. It is just another virtualization layer (on top of the already existing), instead of thinking in terms of a VM or a container, we think, deploy and run our code in terms of a function no longer than a few lines of code. This comes with practical implications on what we should worry about.

Namely, two main parameters: Memory & maximum execution duration (current maximum timeout is 300 seconds). As for CPU and network bandwidth, they are adjusted to the memory size. You can take a look at the present limits on the AWS Lambda Limits Docs.

Just to be clear, here are the main benefits of going serverless:

  • No infrastructure to manage (e.g. VM, Docker, JVM, Tomcat or WildFly), focus on business logic
  • Pay only what you use, high performance at scale
  • Bring your own code, e.g., could be based on Node.js (JavaScript), JVM (Java, Scala, JRuby, etc.) or written in C# and python

What we did

Back to the workshop, what we did is:

and as a cheery top, during the lunch break, Ivan demonstrated how to extract detailed information from Lambda functions​ and the frontend/client part which then can be integrated with tools such as to Prometheus (a time-series database and metrics system) or Kafka (an open-source stream-processing software platform).

These metrics can then be used to reduce cost for feature maintenance and help with feature prioritization, enhancing the business decisions for the chat app frontend and backend. We proved to our partner AWS and participating developers from various companies that we comprehend the AWS services, and that we are ready to take technology a step further to meet the potential business requirement.

 

Findings

The full-day event was a great success and we had a chance to see the interest from other companies, current and/or potential customers of ours.

Here are some of the findings we extracted from our exchanges with the participants:

  • When business is asking about cloud technology, they have surpassed IaaS & PaaS level and are looking at the FaaS cost optimization layer.
  • As our internal and external environment continues to change, you will need more cloud competencies across the organization.
  • Even though legal compliance and data regulation is not up to date with technology capability, the good news is that companies are more and more digging into this issue to figure out a solution.
  • Too many AWS services, too many options, where should I start? EC2? S3? To get going could be hard. But that is where we can help and assist you.

If you have any question, feel free to reach out to us on coc.aws@swisscom.com or visit our Website at www.swisscom.ch/aws

Swisscom has wide-ranging cloud transformation expertise and assists companies from the design stage right through to implementation, migration and operation of their cloud solution, even in hybrid environments. Our certified experts will guide you into the Amazon Web Services cloud and help you build reliable and innovative solutions.

 

A big thanks to our digital labs colleagues & AWS partner colleagues for a great event collaboration. We’re looking forward to the next event!

Acknowledgement: This article was written by Wuming Zhang and Ivan Hristov, pictures by Martina Böhm.