Why a serverless guide? - Serverless

Why a serverless guide?

Revised: 2023-04-13

Building solutions with Amazon Web Services (AWS) can be daunting!

There are over two hundred Amazon Web Services. Each service has at least one developer guide with hundreds of pages. Services also have API references, tutorials, workshops, and dozens of related articles and videos.

Detailed and comprehensive documentation is invaluable. But, when you consider a typical solution is built with six or more services, the volume of information can be overwhelming.

The goal of this serverless developer guide is to give you directed learning paths for the core services needed to build serverless solutions.

In serverless solutions, you focus on writing code that serves your customers, without managing servers. Serverless technologies are pay-as-you-go, can scale both up and down, and are easy to expand across geographic regions.

Meeting you where you are now

We expect that you are a developer with some traditional web application development experience, but you are new to Amazon Web Services or serverless architectures. We also assume you want to get beyond a trivial hello world example. So, as we say at AWS, we will dive deeper into patterns used by thousands of customers in production.

This guide will highlight what you need to know right away and link to service documentation for advanced topics and details.

For example, you'll learn that the Lambda service spins up environments to run compute functions, but to manage function scaling or reduce startup time, we'll link you to relevant sections of the Lambda Developer or Operator Guides.

Organization of this Guide

This guide is grouped into sections:

  • Serverless Fundamentals

  • Service Starters (Four now, with more to come!)

  • Serverless Tutorials

1 - Serverless Fundamentals

The guide starts with prerequisites to understand and use AWS, such as account creation, Amazon cloud infrastructure (regions, ARNs, security model). Then, it will introduce the shift in mindset you need to make to start your serverless journey. Next, it will dive into event-driven architecture and other serverless concepts necessary to transition to serverless.

Along the way, the guide will provide a list of curated resources, such as articles, workshops, and tutorials, to reinforce your learning with hands-on activities.

The guide will focus on common serverless use cases, such as:

  • Interactive Web- and API-based microservices or applications

  • Data processing applications

  • Real-time streaming applications

  • Machine learning

  • IT automation and service orchestration

To avoid information overload, scope will be limited to a few essential serverless services to get started:

  • AWS Identity and Access Management for service security

  • AWS Lambda for compute functions

  • Amazon API Gateway for integrating HTTP/S requests with other services that handle the requests

  • Amazon DynamoDB for data storage and retrieval

Expected outcomes: You will understand how services combine, and you’ll create a microservice to retrieve data.

2 - Service Starters

Core service starters will quickly explain the value and technical fundamentals of each service. Each starter will also mention advanced topics, so you can start with the essentials, but be aware of capabilities to dive into when you need them.

Starters are short reads (less than 2,300 words; 10-15 min) that connect concepts and practical hands-on use.

3 - Serverless Experiences

There are many hands-on learning opportunities at AWS. Choosing can be difficult. We know you have limited amounts of time, so this guide will suggest essential hands-on activities for learning serverless.

Learn by doing in the Serverless Patterns workshop. The first module provides a short (20-30 min) console-based introduction to building the following microservice to retrieve data from DynamoDB with Lambda:

            Architecture diagram for a REST microservice. Client icon connects through an arrow to REST API resource icon with API Gateway service icon placed above it. REST API is connected by a double arrow to Lambda function resource icon with Permissions Policy resource icon placed above it, and Lambda service icon placed above both. Lambda function resource is connected through an arrow pointing to Users Table resource with DynamoDB service icon placed above it. Two dotted vertical lines separate the three services.


Read this guide to learn the concepts. Choose the workshop for hands-on experience!

Learn by doing in the Serverless Patterns Workshop.

Living document

Starting with serverless, starts here!

This guide is a living document. It will expand with key topics new developers need on their serverless journey. Please share your suggestions to help others start building successful serverless solutions.

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Tim Colson - Sr. Technical Writer,