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Webhooks vs API’s in a Serverless Environment

Communication is a key driver in the digital era. To facilitate communication speed, we must find the most efficient methods for technologies to talk to each other. To date, developers have relied on API’s and webhooks to relay data between two applications. These two techniques communicate in different ways, and for slightly different purposes. Put simply, an API performs tasks when asked to do so, while a Webhook performs tasks independently based on when pre-established criteria are met or when a specified scenario occurs. API’s place calls for data regardless of whether there’s been a data update response or not. Webhooks receive calls through HTTP Posts only when the system you’re hooked to has a data update.

API

API’s, or Application Programming Interfaces, work very well when there is a constant change in data. This framework is used frequently by existing software and tools. The majority of large apps have multiple API integrations to expand their service offerings. If the data isn’t frequently updated, however, API calls can result in wasted resources.

Webhooks

If your app or platform requires real-time updates, but you don’t want to waste resources, a webhook can be preferred method of communication. They can also come in handy as a workaround solution where an API doesn’t currently exist. Webhooks are typically used for smaller data requests, rather than mission-critical tasks because there is less control over the data flow.

How are API’s and webhooks impacted in a serverless environment?

If you’re operating in a serverless environment, one way to allow for developers to extend or connect to platforms is through serverless extensibility. This allows for an easier buildout of needed features without waiting for new platform products to be introduced. While serverless extensibility has its advantages, it also encounters some downfalls such as a higher learning curve, limited choice of coding languages, and more complex code management.

However, cutting-edge companies such as Microsoft have created serverless computing options like Azure, which have resolved many of the downsides of communicating in a serverless environment. Microsoft Azure offers a product called Functions which allows for easy configuration of communications in serverless computing. Serverless Functions creates a faster, cost-efficient method for developing cloud-based applications without some of the downsides of traditional webhooks in a serverless infrastructure.

Serverless Functions benefits:

  • Easy, scalable application building – Take advantage of serverless computing without the worry about infrastructure. Scale on demand, while paying only for utilized resources.
  • Manage the apps, not the infrastructure – Microsoft Azure Functions provide a fully-managed computing platform. With on-demand scaling, your code gets the resources it needs, when it needs them, with high reliability and security. You no longer need to worry about capacity planning, provisioning, or maintaining servers.
  • Optimize for what matters most – Write code only for what is critical to your business. Programming models handle other tasks such as communicating with other services, building HTTP-based API’s, or managing workflows.
  • Develop in your own language – Create Functions in the language of your choice, while choosing between web-based interfaces or building locally. Apply the same function code across multiple targets such as Azure Stack, or IoT Edge.

In serverless computing environments, Microsoft Azure and Azure Serverless Functions provide endless opportunities for communication in web and mobile application backends, real-time file and stream processing, task automation, and extending SaaS applications. Functions does this with the speed and agility of traditional webhooks, but without the headaches. For more information about Microsoft Azure or Azure’s Serverless Functions, contact iT1 today for a consultation.

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