Cool Startup: Netlify Platform Leverages Microservices, Serverless and Cloud-based CDN

Netlify is a next-gen startup, which bills itself as “an all-in-one workflow that combines global deployment, continuous integration and HTTPS”. The co-founders of Netlify, Chris Bach and Mathias Billmann, set up the company in order to simplify the deployment process for building, deploying and managing websites. They want to convince developers to use the Netlify platform instead of just deploying straight to Amazon Web Services or other cloud providers.

To this end, they have gone through two rounds of funding, the latest in the summer of 2017, pulling in $12M from various investors, including Andreesen Horowitz. The UK’s Business Insider described the startup as being “on the cutting edge of web development, letting programmers instantly deploy super-fast websites with a click”.

Developers, such as those behind Netlify, have been long searching for a way to simplify the complicated system of code and databases that enable a highly interactive experience on major websites. They want to speed up website processing and reduce complications and opportunities for attacks that can spring from all the various moving parts necessary in constructing a major site. Git-centered workflows and microservices, however, have changed the game.

Static websites are becoming more typical, which have less code and fewer components overall. They load more quickly, are more secure and can cope with a higher volume of web traffic. Christian Bach, Netlify co-founder, believes that moving forward, websites should be entirely built this way. “This should be the default”, says Bach. Netlify, specifically allows programmers to deploy their static websites from existing code with just one click. When the website goes live, it is hosted on a content delivery network. Netifly has designed its own CDN, aimed at making its sites load as quickly as possible. It runs over six different cloud providers.

Once updates execute within Netlify, they are distributed over the network of different CDNs to deliver pre-built static pages to visitors. Then Netifly distributes those static sites across its own CDN, meaning that the pages are already pre-built when a visitor clicks on them. This saves time as the pre-loading is already done and the page is directed from the nearest geographic server, which reduces load times further.

For those concerned that static sites are a relic of the past, Billmann says, “We say static site [but] it’s not like 1994 where sites were static, 99.9% of sites serviced by Netlify are very dynamic,” Biilmann said. “They just interact with the browser instead of having to be built server-side every time.”

This means that essentially its sites are webserverless. Phil Hawksworth, Developer Relations at Netlify, describes the essential advantage of this being that he can build sites in a way that reduces complexity and risk in terms of designing and manufacturing infrastructure, and instead allows him to “focus on creating websites which deliver beautiful experiences”.

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