Is FaaS – Features-as-a-Service – the Next Big Thing in Software Development?

The growing popularity of the Cloud-based service model has led to a plethora of acronyms ending in “aaS.” Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), and Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) remain three of the most common examples of these service offerings in the tech industry. Businesses of all sizes enjoy cost savings by leveraging the Cloud in this manner.

Now software developers, trying to keep up in an increasingly rapid business world, have their own Cloud-based service acronym. Enter Features-as-a-Service (FaaS). Does FaaS give application engineers the chance to build more functional software faster and at a lower cost? Let’s take a look.

Code Reuse in a Cloud-based Wrapper

Code reuse is a traditional way for programmers to accomplish more by doing less. It’s one of the reasons libraries and APIs are so popular throughout the industry. We’ve covered this technology and API Testing extensively in the past on this very blog.

FaaS essentially just makes this process more componentized; delivering a library of functionality in a convenient Cloud-based wrapper for software engineers to use in their own applications. Instead of spending time reinventing the wheel, developers are able to focus on the unique functionality that makes their app special. Technology VP, JT Ripton commented on the FaaS trend

“Whereas on the backend developers already are using pay-as-you-go infrastructure such as Amazon Web Services for cloud computing and services such as Stripe for payment processing, FaaS takes the same approach but applies it to the front end,” said Ripton. He also notes developers struggling with implementing a public API need to consider FaaS as an option when speed is of the essence.

Scenarios where Usage of a FaaS is Smart

A variety of FaaS providers are currently supporting common functional areas within applications, potentially saving development teams both time and money. Mapbox is one such provider worthy of consideration when compared to Google’s Map API and its arcane documentation. A plug-and-play model simply works more efficiently in today’s era of Agile and DevOps.

Social interactivity is another good example. There is no need to build social functionality from scratch, when a provider like Tapglue offers their own FaaS. Their service includes functionality supporting user profiles and news feeds, as well as interactive features like sharing, commenting, and more.

Agora.io offers a FaaS that adds real time communication – voice and video – to an application. This would be a boon for a game developer working on a MMORPG or any other type of multiplayer title. Concentrate on your game’s functionality; not on getting codecs to work properly on a variety of devices.

Ripton stresses the essential difference between FaaS and other types of code reuse like an API is the front-end component. This is especially useful for teams without their own UI design talent. He feels this is a natural progression on how software gets written.

“FaaS is just the next evolution of the mashup and code reuse trend that’s been picking up steam over the past several decades. It isn’t a “revolutionary” idea, or even truly innovative. But it is perfectly in line with the way we code today — it is a new application of something we’ve seen before,” said Ripton.

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for additional insights from an ever-changing software development world. Thanks for reading!

News from the World of Software Development – January 2017

Welcome to a brand new year and a fresh look at the latest news from the constantly evolving world of software development. If you are interested in checking out the stories from the end of December, simply click on this link. Leverage this month’s insights and information to help make your application engineering process more efficient and productive. Good luck!

The Cloud is making Software Engineering Faster

Software development teams are increasingly using Cloud-based services to produce new applications, make enhancements to current apps, and fix bugs at a faster rate. Collaboration with remote development teams and a new Features-as-a-Service (FaaS) API model for code reuse appear to be two of the most common use-cases for Cloud-enhanced software engineering. This growing trend was reported on this month in TechTarget.

The TechTarget article also covers the wider use of containers, something we also mentioned in our 2017 Trends in Software Development post. Tools like Docker, Vagrant, and others allow software engineering shops to leverage virtualization – either in-house or Cloud-based – to make managing development, production, and QA environments a more efficient process. Companies hoping to achieve a Continuous Delivery model are increasingly using Cloud-based virtualization as part of their methodology.

Cloud-based APIs and services – increasingly marketed with the FaaS moniker mentioned earlier – allow development teams to meet deadlines without having to “recode” the wheel. Code reuse has been in the wise developer’s toolbox for decades, and Cloud-based services simply make it easier. Amazon and Microsoft are continually adding new routines to their own publically-available Cloud-based APIs.

Componentization and microservices are two other ways development teams are using the Cloud to improve their software engineering process. Expect to hear more information on microservices in an upcoming blog post.

Tom Nolle, the writer for TechTarget, sums up this growing trend. “The most important impacts of the cloud on faster software development are being felt only now, and it’s clear that we’re heading for a true software revolution in just a few years,” said Nolle.

AI and Data Science are Important Skills for New Developers

Anyone interested in moving into software engineering, or current developers hoping to keep their skills up to date, need to ramp up their knowledge of Artificial Intelligence and Data Science. That is the opinion of an article published this week in InfoWorld. The IT magazine spoke with Jim McHugh, vice president and general manager for Nvidia’s DGX-1 supercomputer, to get his insights on the growing importance of AI in the industry.

The DGX-1 is largely used in deep learning and data analysis scenarios. McHugh feels the supercomputer and its employment of AI and data provides an example of how the process of writing software is being transformed. “We’re using data to train the software to make it more intelligent,” said McHugh. 

Part of the application infrastructure, like the interface and flow, are still coded using largely traditional methods. The actual meat of the app, however, uses data analysis to influence new feature sets. McHugh mentioned developers manage and curate the data while guiding the app through learning its new enhancements.

The influence of AI in the software development process is definitely an area to watch over the upcoming decade.

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for additional insights and news from the ever-changing software development universe. As always – thanks for reading!