In recent years, the JAMstack web development trend has garnered interest among front-end web designers. A 2020 study by Netlify found 1 in 3 sites serving a million users use JAMstack.
JAMstack has been viewed as a development style for blogs and startups, but lately, some proponents believe it’s time for enterprise adoption. So, what benefits could JAMstack and serverless offer enterprise architecture? I recently talked with Ryan Coleman, vice president of engineering and product at Stackery, to find out.
As defined at jamstack.org, JAMstack enables fast and secure sites that pre-render files directly from a CDN. This avoids tight-coupling between the client and the server, also known as headless. Applied in the right context, it can bring performance, security, scalability and developer experience benefits.
Admittedly, there is some variation on implementation of this style—PayPal’s Jamund Ferguson simply calls them static apps—but, “the thing that they all have in common is that they don’t depend on a web server,” noted jamstack.org. Jekyll, Hugo, Nuxt, Next and Gatsby are among many JAMstack frameworks and static site generators, and many adopters are listed here.
No longer are IT teams operating a web farm. Rather, they are shifting the process of interacting with live web servers left. According to Coleman, JAMstack is more aligned with these modern practices across the board. Therefore, he sees many potential benefits for its use within enterprise environments.
With JAMstack, web pages are built during the build process attached to a CDN pipeline. “Instead of running a server farm, you are externalizing it,” notes Coleman. “It’s the CDN’s problem.”
JAMstack plays nicely with a serverless mentality. “JAMstack helps rethink what production footprint actually looks like,” Coleman said. By reducing your active server footprint, serverless implementations decrease infrastructure costs.
With the proliferation of web vulnerabilities, companies are seeking new ways to limit their exposure and avoid catastrophic breaches. JAMstack can help enterprises keep pace, offering a “much tighter place to apply security controls,” he said.
It allows teams to think of their security infrastructure in smaller pieces, which affords better control and scalability for things such as authorization. “Serverless architecture helps enable enterprise-grade SAML-based Auth tied into your stack,” Coleman noted.
Coleman also sees opportunities for small teams to disrupt the dominant players by utilizing it. “Companies need to move quickly, achieve enterprise-grade architecture and secure products with less investment on the onset,” he said. These abilities could, for example, enable a FinTech startup to compete on the same playing field as an established bank.
“How do you create an architecture that is living, and how do you make sure it is as secure and clean as possible?” he asked. “How do you get a whole team together where actually doesn’t have to use 1,000 lines of YAML, and how do we continue to maintain?”
Since JAMstack adopts APIs, companies could rapidly stitch together high-performing applications. Furthermore, by pairing low-code tooling and JAMstack, teams could drag-and-drop snippets of AWS-managed services to construct web applications very quickly.
JAMstack has a reputation for creating compelling user-facing apps. Yet, Coleman acknowledged a common misconception: JAMstack is static and, therefore, not for enterprise.
However, JAMstack can be more than a static app; the structure can support secure interactive capabilities. By taking CDNs and buckets and utilizing API connections to rich features such as AWS managed services, it can essentially reach the same enterprise-grade capabilities as other development styles, he said.
JAMstack: No Longer Only for Blogs
“Serverless + JAMstack is where web app architectures are going,” Coleman wrote in a recent blog post. Though many view it as a static app, there is growing potential for using this development approach to enable applications with dynamic interactivity. “With AWS in the backend, you can create an interactive enterprise-grade app.”
Another benefit of JAMstack is the decoupled nature between client and server. This abstraction layer makes for building web applications across multi-cloud arrangements. And as web APIs become more accessible through low-code, the entry barrier to connecting to a MySQL or Postgres database—or handling identity management, for instance—is lowering.
Once only viewed as good for blogs, JAMstack is gaining more credibility within enterprise architecture as APIs and serverless become more commonplace, offering the potential to increase performance, increase rapid web application delivery and solve other concerns within enterprise situations.
Coleman described JAMstack as enabling developers to “build that web application the way you want.” How, then, do you want to build?