BT

A Sample Serverless Microservice Architecture from Autodesk

| by Abel Avram Follow 9 Followers on Aug 19, 2016. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

In the webcast entitled “What's Better Than Microservices? Serverless Microservices,” Alan Williams (Autodesk), Asha Chakrabarty (Amazon) and Alan Ho (Apigee) discuss the architecture of a serverless microservice built with lambda functions with Apigee end-points running on AWS.

Serverless is a relatively novel architectural style in which the computing unit is not the virtual machine but rather a function encapsulating the code to be executed when an event takes place, said Chakrabarty. Williams noted the main attributes of the serverless computing model are: code focused, no server to manage, no EC2 instance to provision and administer, no manual scaling, no idle resources, no SSH or RDP.

The following graphic depicts the simplified architecture of a serverless microservice implemented by Autodesk (click on image to enlarge it):

serverless-microservice-arch

The microservice has multiple entry points exposed as HTTP end-points managed by Apigee. The user makes an HTTP call, not knowing that the request is served by a serverless microservice. The microservice is composed from a number of lambda functions written in Python and communicating with each other through AWS SNS asynchronous notifications. The lambda functions are independent of each other and can be developed in different languages and maintained by different teams.

Since lambda functions are short-lived, they need to persist state somewhere, one of the options being DynamoDB tables. The access to these tables is controlled through IAM roles and restricted to only those functions that need read/write access to them. This avoids unneeded data exposure to certain lambda functions and lowers the attack surface of the microservice in case there is a security breach. Autodesk chose to store state in DynamoDB due to its simplicity, passing data as JSON, not having to administer a server instance and supporting automated scaling up.

The DynamoDB table at the bottom of the diagram (talr-taskstatus) persists the state from multiple lambda functions and generates streamed events when the table is modified. These events are monitored by another lambda function (talr-validator) which acts as necessary.

Regarding the benefits of implementing a serverless architecture on AWS, Williams mentioned:

  • Agility. The implementation took only a few weeks
  • No infrastructure to administer. No EC2 or ELB instances. No security patches
  • Developers need to focus only on the code they write
  • The ability to manage the code with the Serverless Framework
  • The cost. In their experience, running the lambda solution costs a small fraction (~1%) of the traditional cloud approach. The costs are further reduced by not having to pay operational staff to set up and overview the EC2 and ELB instances.

Williams also mentioned that the serverless architecture is not good for running long-lived workloads or third party applications. In such a case, he said a container is more appropriate.

The session includes a demo on organizing the code, deploying and running it on AWS through the Serverless framework.

Rate this Article

Adoption Stage
Style

Hello stranger!

You need to Register an InfoQ account or or login to post comments. But there's so much more behind being registered.

Get the most out of the InfoQ experience.

Tell us what you think

Allowed html: a,b,br,blockquote,i,li,pre,u,ul,p

Email me replies to any of my messages in this thread
Community comments

Allowed html: a,b,br,blockquote,i,li,pre,u,ul,p

Email me replies to any of my messages in this thread

Allowed html: a,b,br,blockquote,i,li,pre,u,ul,p

Email me replies to any of my messages in this thread

Discuss

Login to InfoQ to interact with what matters most to you.


Recover your password...

Follow

Follow your favorite topics and editors

Quick overview of most important highlights in the industry and on the site.

Like

More signal, less noise

Build your own feed by choosing topics you want to read about and editors you want to hear from.

Notifications

Stay up-to-date

Set up your notifications and don't miss out on content that matters to you

BT