How serverless web applications are speeding up time-to-market for MVPs

How serverless web applications are speeding up time-to-market for MVPs

One for the most popular strategies for rolling out a web and/or mobile product is by building a minimum viable product (MVP) first, and incrementally adding features on it over time. This is a tried & tested formula that works well because it allows several benefits:

  • Allows you to focus on building the core value proposition first, without worrying about the bells & whistles.
  • Provides the ability to shape the future roadmap of the product based on the data gathered regarding user behavior observed on the MVP.
  • Taking data driven decisions to shape incremental product builds is always far more successful than decisions made based on assumptions.
  • The cost & time to market for an MVP is significantly lower than the full feature-spec product.
  • The quicker you get to market, the sooner you can gather valuable insight which will help drive the product further (as mentioned above).

Recently, a technology trend has emerged that has allowed us to further speed up the MVP development process — serverless computing.

We wrote about Serverless Computing a little while ago, but to give you a brief recap, serverless is just a term given to the utilization of infrastructure-as-a-service companies like Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure to act as your back-end infrastructure and take care of all the nitty gritty like load balancing, cluster management, scaling VMs and all that devops stuff for you seamlessly. This allows us to focus on building a great product with a fantastic user experience for the user base.

What this has done is allowed us as web application (or mobile) developers to execute feature-rich MVP specs in much less time and for much lower cost (due to the reduced resources required). For example, if we were to use Firebase as our back-end infrastructure for a web application, we wouldn’t need to worry about creating data structures, writing API calls that perform CRUD operations within these database tables / collections, or deal with authentication middleware, to name just a few examples. All of these come out of the box when we use Firebase authentication and Cloud Firestore. Just a few lines of code allows us to interact with the infrastructure in the back-end and write/access data that we need. We never need to worry about scale, as this is taken care of by Google (in this example).

Further benefits include state of the art security built in which is a massive boon. The devops skills required to ensure that server infrastructures are safe and secure is no small feat, and to have that aspect of your product’s back-end completely taken care of is quite a weight off the developers’ shoulders.

Finally, when it comes to pricing, these service providers are actually priced quite competitively. They most certainly make a lot of sense if you have low-to-medium traffic, as these providers generally charge based on the amount of traffic / usage you will see on the application. The lower traffic tiers are not where they make most of their money. It is only when an application scales to the hundreds of thousands, or millions of users, is when the billing starts to add up. However, at that stage, the value that you are receiving in terms of scaling up and managing this massive infrastructure that is supporting your millions of users is well worth the price being charged (in our opinion).

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Serverless computing has been one of the most beneficial advents in modern software development. It has enabled the next generation of developers to come online faster and with less friction. As more creative development minds are brought to the software development landscape, we can only stand to benefit from the new crop of applications they will develop. And with serverless technologies fully embracing and enabling developers to integrate machine learning and AI into their applications with little-to-no- extra overhead, the possibilities a young developer now has are limitless. This is an extremely exciting time to be in the world of application development, and we are extremely excited for 2019 and 2020 to be revolutionary years for our industry.

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