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Why Student Engineers Should Buy Into the Hype Around Serverless

Shreya Gupta

September 30, 2021

We recently had the opportunity to speak to a student audience at Serverless Days and came up with some insights that we felt were worth sharing with a wider audience. Please take a look and let us know your thoughts @trycourier.

Serverless architecture is relatively new, yet many startup developers prefer building their foundation on a Serverless framework. But what's with the hype? What makes developers trust Serverless to the point that companies are willing to spend their resources to rewire their entire backend infrastructure to host their products on platforms like AWS, GCP, or Azure?

At AWS re:Invent 2016, Neil Hunt, acting CPO at Vibrant Planet and previously at Netflix, spoke about how the rapidly growing global company relied on AWS to deploy servers and storage efficiently. Big name companies such as Netflix, Coca Cola, and Nordstrom as well as smaller startups like Courier are using Serverless to cut down costs and build scalable tech.

There are major advantages to Serverless that cause companies of any size to become dependent upon it. This dependency ultimately allows developers to save time, preserve resources, and lessen performance issues.

Why Students Should Get Comfortable with Serverless

Often, cloud computing companies will visit schools and host workshops to introduce students to their software. However, there aren't many institutions that teach students specifically about Serverless architecture. Even after using these services for hackathons or class projects, few students have an in-depth understanding of how Serverless works and what it can be used for.

Many students working at startups after graduation will likely encounter one of the big three: AWS, Azure, or GCP. Serverless is increasingly becoming a technology that startup software developers and product managers will need to be proficient in, to help grow their products quickly, cheaply, and reliably.

Time

Using Serverless frameworks allows developers to build and deploy their applications from zero to production speed. Any time a product needs to be released or updated, developers no longer need to worry about managing their backend and uploading code to the server. They can simply upload or update pieces of code to the Serverless computing provider in a fraction of the time.

Resources

In addition to time, teams can save expenses on people and products by running their code from the cloud. They can save money on getting and running servers by purchasing cloud space from Serverless companies at a fraction of the cost.

Reliability

By allowing Serverless computing companies to manage the servers, startup developers can avoid a large amount of risk. These Serverless companies are able to store massive amounts of servers that allow their users to scale projects in seconds. Developers no longer need to worry about their applications crashing since their servers have to take excessive loads. If an application does require more servers than anticipated, the cloud will automatically increase the number of servers provided to them. Depending on Serverless architecture massively decreases the chances of a product running into any software, hardware or human faults related to servers.

Bit Project is a student organization that tackles the deficit of shared information in tech by building and hosting free coding bootcamps to help students build key skills required to succeed in tech. One of these is the Serverless Camp, in which students spend four weeks learning about the services that Azure provides and how they can use them to build various applications. For the next four weeks, students work with professional mentors from the tech industry to find and resolve a world issue using Serverless technology.

Example Projects to Build

Several students around the world built projects using Azure Functions for the Serverless Days: Student Edition Conference hosted by Bit Project in 2021. Each student had worked extensively with mentors in the tech industry, software developers, project managers, and developer advocates, to learn about the services that Azure provides and how to integrate databases and APIs to build bots and applications using those services to solve real world problems.

Creating a Smart Teaching Assistant on Github with Serverless - Ganning Xu

High School student, Ganning Xu, was the first to complete the Camp course and took his head start as an opportunity to find and resolve issues in the program. The Camp curriculum itself was hosted on a in-house GitHub bot. For his final project, Ganning decided to improve the overall experience of the bot for both students and mentors by adding more features, bug fixes, and transferring the code to host the bot as a Serverless function.

Building a Knowledge Base for Online Classes - David Tetreau

Another student, David Tetreau, was a military veteran and had shown a special interest in improving the online learning experience for new programmers. By using the Slack Bolt framework, Node.js, JavaScript, and Serverless web app hosting, David built a solution to save time and increase productivity.

His project, a Serverless Slack Bot, helps alleviate the stress of virtual team communication, and helps boost productivity. The bot maintains and updates a single knowledge base, monitors channels for keywords, and responds to inquiries with those words in threaded conversations with users.

Go Eat! Meal Reminders with Serverless - Beatrix Cendana

Beatrix Cendana, originally a writer, wanted to build more technical skills and become a technical writer. While balancing a hectic schedule, Beatrix discovered a need for a product that can help generate random recipes for daily cooking and timely reminders for regular meals. She decided to create an SMS feature with the Twilio API that can remind people to eat based on a proper schedule and add the feature to help them get the random recipes.

Watch the full Serverless Days: Student Edition 2021 Conference, where five of the students from the Serverless Camp present lightning talks including the inspirations behind their application ideas, journey to building it, and demo of the working application. Students also talk about their experience working with external APIs, databases, and their mentors.

These students are an example of how quickly programmers can pick up Serverless architecture, get started building their own applications, and become experts in the field. These skills can be valuable in various roles across tech that require extensive knowledge of cloud computing and deploying applications on providers like AWS, GCP, Azure, etc.

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