Edge Computing for Serverless Applications

5 min read

By: Manzoor Farid, Michael Behrendt, Nikhil Gupta, and Danielle Kingberg

Need to build applications that can easily scale to spikes in demand? We understand your pain!

This requires large amounts of engineering work to set up the right infrastructure and run the application. On top of that, it means you'll need a good deal of operational support to keep it running and maintain the underlying infrastructure. It's a significant investment just to get the thing off the ground. The good news is, this is no longer an issue. Why? Because you can build serverless applications through the IBM Cloud Functions Platform.

This means:

  • No more up-front engineering since there's no infrastructure to set up
  • No more operational support since there's no infrastructure to maintain

Edge Functions on IBM Cloud Internet Services

With IBM Cloud Functions, customers can run complex applications without incurring costs associated with traditional infrastructure. What's better than serverless applications? Serverless capability at the network edge.

We bring you Edge Functions on IBM Cloud Internet Services (CIS) to provide you with serverless computing at the edge along with all the security features of the CIS proxy, including DDoS protection, WAF, Browser Integrity Check, and more. This means you can run the serverless applications at the network edge, closer to your users across 180+ global network PoPs. 

Edge Functions allows developers to build simple applications that can be completely serviced by the offering. Moreover, CIS's Edge Functions can also be used for more complex layered applications that offload pre/post-processing of a complex application at the network edge for faster, more secure, and customized responses. More complex pieces of the application can be handled by the serverless IBM Cloud Functions or a traditional web application, all while optimizing security and reliability for your public-facing application through CIS.

What is Edge Functions?

Edge Functions allows you to run code closer to users of your public-facing applications or websites. In turn, you can improve your application's performance and reduce latency. This means you can quickly create new applications or modify existing ones without having to configure or maintain infrastructure via our serverless execution environment. Once a new application is deployed or an existing application is modified, it takes us ~15 seconds to get the changes distributed globally to our 180+ PoPs worldwide.

Edge Functions allows you to pre-process HTTP requests before they reach the application origin servers and post-process any responses from the application. With this powerful capability at the edge, you can create applications that deliver personalized user experiences, increase API responsiveness, implement custom application security, and much more. For example, you can write an edge functions application that invokes multiple Cloud Functions or APIs, aggregates the responses, and provides the client with a consolidated response. 

Under the hood, the Edge Functions runtime uses the V8 engine used by Chromium and Node.js. The V8 engine orchestrates “isolates”—lightweight contexts that group variables with the code allowed to mutate them. You can consider an isolate as a sandbox for your edge function to run in, instead of creating a virtual machine or invoking a container. Isolates are designed to start within an existing runtime environment without allowing an isolate to access memory for another isolate. 

How can I use Edge Functions?

Edge Functions works best for creating custom experiences for your end user. This can take the form in a variety of use cases: 

  • You can create a CIS Edge Function to control A/B tests. You can do this by intercepting inbound HTTP(S) requests and serving content requests from the Edge Functions and CIS's caching feature to specific control and test groups. 
  • Deliver personalized user experiences through conditional routing and originless responses. Imagine you receive a request to admit from a potential hacker. This provides you with the ability to easily determine their intent and divert them to a different page for them to do their dirty work while your application remains safe, secure, and reliable. You can do this, and more, by building responses from multiple background service requests either to the Cloudflare cache, application origin, or third-party APIs. 
  • Increase API responsiveness by creating a flexible API gateway to aggregate responses from multiple endpoints and return as a single response. This eliminates the need for each endpoint to compile individual responses. Each request can also be split into multiple parallel requests and then combined into a single response. This increases API responsiveness.
  • Implement custom application security by building conditional responses for inbound requests that can assess and subsequently block or reroute malicious or unauthorized requests. You can also set parameters that identify and authorize legitimate application traffic. Examples of this include the following: 

Get started today

With IBM Cloud Internet Services, you can easily create and update your public-facing web applications and quickly deliver them globally. By building your public-facing websites and applications with us you will get:

  • Optimized performance and reliability: Run your code quickly and deliver static and dynamic content to your users wherever they are, without sacrificing latency
  • Better responsiveness: You can quickly scale out your code globally with our isolate approach to help you get going and make changes faster.
  • More flexibility: With Edge Functions in combination with Cloud Functions, we offer you the most flexible solutions to create custom end-user experiences without compromise—the ability to execute serverless functions at the edge in concert with (or without) a centralized data center application (serverless or otherwise). Save your computing capacity running complex logic and code at the network edge.

Get started with the CIS Edge Functions in the Standard and Enterprise plans.

Be the first to hear about news, product updates, and innovation from IBM Cloud