Service-full serverless vs no-code solutions

What is Service-full Serverless?

Service-full serverless is about using and configuring managed services and features rather than writing, testing and releasing your own code.

I would call it “integrating without glue code” for short.

In practice, an example would be using API Gateway as a proxy to directly integrate with DynamoDB [1] without writing the lambda code to integrate. However, in some cases you may need to choreograph services; then if that’s the case, Azure offers Event Grid or Logic Apps; and AWS has Event Bridge.

An interesting tangent to cover in another article is about making a distinction between choreography and orchestration, and the following slide from AWS re:Invent 2021 makes it clear:

  • Orchestration is about coordinating components of distributed applications and microservices using visual workflows like Step Functions
  • Choreography is about producing and consuming messages from a serverless event bus; however, services don’t need to know about each other, just about the bus

Note that not knowing about each other, reduces coupling which gives you options in the future to swap components, reduce dependency and easier testing.

AWS re:Invent 2021 — Best practices of advanced serverless developers

If you want to read more about serverless architectures, please visit this link with a 3-article series [2].

What is low and no-code?

In addition to building applications, low/no-code platforms offer easy workflow automation, help enhance business processes, and provide other capabilities to contribute to your operations. [3]

Low-code platforms primarily speed up the development processes and enable you to jump straight into the customisation phase. Low-code also allows you to get into a bit more complicated applications. Meanwhile, no-code targets no development at all. However, applications are (and should be) simple in nature.

There are several offerings in the market for these types of propositions. In the no-code market, some of the best ones are Microsoft Power Apps, Mendix, Airtable, Zoho creator, Visual LANSA, Knack, Quickbase, Retool, Caspio, Outsystems. [3]

Since service-full serverless and no-code solutions both achieve the desired outcome without writing code; then what is the difference?

What is the difference between Service-full serverless and no-code solutions?

No-code offerings focus on the end user and self-service as main concern; meanwhile service-full serverless is about all types of integrations that do not require logic/transformations, just choreography, with some IT expertise to configure it.

The biggest difference is the licensing model. No-code is based on user and the other on consumption, either number of operations, transactions, etc.

Event driven for service-full with native error handling and automations around the IaC, meanwhile, no-code has several types of triggers with flow checks for errors and usually simplified promotions across environments.

A table comparing no-code offering with service-full serverless
Comparison table: No-code vs Service-full serverless

Conclusions

Using service integrations where possible and favouring configuration over coding will reduce the testing surface and speed up delivery. This will create a dependency on the platform / cloud provider, however, some type of lock-in is inevitable. In case choreography is required, then favour low coupling solutions to be able to exchange services in the future easily.

References

  • [1] Using Amazon API Gateway as a proxy for DynamoDB by Stefano Buliani
  • [2] Serverless Architectures I/III: Design and technical trade-offs by Pablo Iorio
  • [3] 10 Best Low-code or No-code Platforms to Build Amazing Products
  • [4] AWS re:Invent 2021 — Best practices of advanced serverless developers

Disclaimers

This is a personal article. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer.

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Pablo Iorio

Pablo Iorio

I enjoy thinking and writing about Software Architecture. To support my writing you can get a membership here: https://pablo-iorio.medium.com/membership