Can Dynamic Sites Go Serverless?

Can Dynamic Sites Go Serverless?

Can dynamic sites go Serverless? You can (and I did) deploy out of GitHub in a standard hosting pages. We're going to do how incremental builds, Lambda and Netlify's ease-of-use allowed one dev to migrate serverless dynamic sites to a microservices architecture on the Jamstack.

Why I migrated my dynamic sites to a serverless architecture

This is a contributed post by Moriel Schottlender. Moriel is a physicist turned software engineer turned systems architect, currently working on modernizing Wikipedia’s architecture. She’s an open source enthusiast, right-to-left language support evangelist, and a general domain hoarder. You can find her as @mooeypoo on Twitter, Polywork, and most other social platforms.

Like most web developers these days, I’ve heard of serverless applications and Jamstack for a while. As a primarily JavaScript/Node developer, I was always curious and excited to check whether I should jump on the bandwagon, let my traditional hosting server go, and design for modern distribution.

When a project at work came up that involved creating a quick UI prototype with a query to an external GraphQL service, I thought I’d give it a try with Netlify. The experience was life changing. Within 10 minutes of switching to Netlify, I had a working prototype with a CI pipeline, a 1-line definition that gave me an API proxy, and the ability to pre-test Pull Requests before merging. The gains of switching to the all-in-one service that Netlify offers were obvious, even with a really small prototype.

The idea of serverless for a tool that is mostly static content is appealing. Generating assets on build and treating the delivery of pages as a  distributed CDN (generated on-build rather than on-request) means huge gains in performance for the client.

I was excited about the possibilities of migrating some personal projects to Netlify, saving myself the need (and hassle) of running them on shared- and virtual private servers, and reducing the mental and operational overhead that traditional web server operations entail.

But I wasn’t convinced my use case was a valid one for migration.

The projects I wanted to migrate to a serverless architecture are dynamic tools, not blogs or fairly static pages, and they’re not relying on constant updates. The majority of the tools I build and host are one-offs that generate content on demand depending on some user input, so on-build generation isn’t really an advantage for me. On top of that, my tools are usually ones where I build often during the development phase, but then, once they reach stability, they basically stay as-is, untouched except for rare bug fixes and maintenance.

These factors made the two main advantages of Netlify that I had experienced with my work project — generation on-build and  continuous CI — potentially irrelevant for my use case.

So, should I migrate at all?


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