Serverless Rules Engine: Exploring Best Platforms

Know how your organization can stand as a front-runner by utilizing the serverless rules engine cloud computing model to create rules and actions.

Serverless Rules Engine: Exploring Best Platforms

Mukul Bhati

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Serverless Rules Engine: Exploring Best PlatformsServerless Rules Engine: Exploring Best Platforms
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Serverless computing has a big scope in cloud computing, where developers build and run applications without managing the servers. With a serverless rules engine, the organization pays only for what it uses. In this model, the cloud provider allocates the resources based on executing functions or events. The serverless approach has an event-driven nature. It is also an auto-scalable, and pay-as-you-go pricing model. 

Rules engines play an important role in software applications by managing and executing business logic. The rules engine checks conditions and executes corresponding actions based on a predefined set of rules. Traditional rules engines often require a dedicated infrastructure for deployment and maintenance. However, serverless rules engines use cloud services to execute rules without the requirement for managing servers to provide a more agile and scalable solution. 

What is a Serverless Rules Engine?

Serverless rules engines transform the traditional approach by eliminating the need for server management. It offers automatic scaling and adopts a cost-efficient pay-per-use model. It easily integrates cloud services and improves flexibility and agility in rule execution. This feature marks a significant advancement in the field of business rule automation.

Key Components of a Serverless Rules Engine

A serverless rules engine looks like the same architecture as the Nected Rules Engine Platform. Nected provides a hybrid architecture, where an organization can use the on-premise model or the cloud-based model. 

Here are the three main components of a typical serverless rules engine. 

Decision Tables: 

  • Decision tables are a visual representation of business rules, outlining conditions and corresponding actions.
  • They usually provide a structured and simple way to define complex rule relationships.

Rule Execution:

  • Rule execution involves the evaluation of conditions defined in decision tables.
  • The rules engine executes actions based on the outcomes of the condition evaluations.

Actions: 

  • Actions represent the tasks or changes triggered by the rules engine based on the conditions met.
  • Actions can be data modifications, process triggers, or other relevant activities.

The Need for Serverless Rules Engine

Here are the potential needs for a serverless rules engine in an organization. 

Scalability Challenges:

Traditional rules engines face challenges in providing a scalable infrastructure. It cannot meet various types of workloads, The Serverless rules engine can manage this by automatically scaling resources based on demand. It performs optimally without the need for manual intervention.  

Cost Efficiency:

Serverless computing follows a pay-per-execution model. With a serverless rules engine, organizations only pay for the resources consumed during the rule execution phase. It also eliminates the need for provisioning and maintaining dedicated servers which reduces the overall infrastructure setup costs. 

Developer Productivity:

Serverless rules engines are simple for the development and deployment process. Developers can only focus on writing rules and logic if they care about server management tasks. This increased developer productivity improves the application development lifecycle. 

Cloud Integration

A serverless rules engine integrates cloud facilities for easy resource management and deployment. Here are a few characteristics of cloud integration

  • Cloud Services:

Serverless rules engines integrate cloud services to utilize functions like AWS Lambda, Azure Functions, or Google Cloud Functions. Cloud services facilitate easy deployment, scalability, and efficient resource utilization.

  • Event-Driven Architecture:

Serverless rules engines follow an event-driven architecture that responds to events or triggers that initiate rule execution. Cloud events are a feature in this architecture and it provides a platform with a responsive approach to rule enforcement.

Popular Cloud Platforms for Serverless Rules Engines

AWS Lambda, Azure Functions, and Google Cloud Functions are a few of the leading serverless computing providers. Choosing a platform depends on specific project management requirements, preferences and integration standards. 

Nected is also a low-code platform which supports integration with SQL and other programming languages like Python. Nected also supports many output formats like JS & JSON.

All the below-mentioned serverless service example offers useful features and merits for implementing rules engines

AWS Lambda for Rules Execution

  • It is a serverless computing service within the suite of Amazon Web Services (AWS).
  • With Lambda, developers can run code without provisioning or managing servers.
  • With AWS Lambda, you can only pay for the compute time consumed during rule execution.
  • It supports various programming languages which enhances flexibility for rule implementation. It can be triggered by AWS services or custom events. 

Azure Functions for Rules Execution

  • It is a serverless computing service offered by Microsoft Azure.
  • It executes code in response to events without the support of server management.
  • It supports a hybrid cloud structure. Organizations can use both on-premises and cloud resources.
  • Azure Logic Apps and Azure Event Grid improve event-driven rule execution.

Google Cloud Functions for Rules Execution

Google Cloud's serverless computing service allows developers to run event-triggered functions without managing infrastructure. The screenshot below depicts the intuitive graphical interface of Google Cloud functions for developers.

  • Google Cloud Functions follows an event-driven model, making it suitable for serverless rules engines responding to specific triggers.
  • Google Cloud Functions can serve as the execution engine for rule-based logic in serverless rules engines.
  • Integration with Cloud Pub/Sub, Cloud Storage, and other services improves its functionality for rule execution.

However, most organizations choose AWS as the benchmarking tool to build a serverless rules engine. In the next sections, we will be concentrating on AWS serverless examples and a serverless rules engine tutorial.

Serverless Rules Engine AWS

Serverless Rules Engine by AWS Lambda provides a scalable solution for executing business logic without the task of server management. In this section let us see serverless rules engine examples, implementation steps and benefits of it.

Components of AWS Lambda Serverless Rules Engine:

Here are the three components inside the AWS Lambda Serverless Rules Engine

1. Lambda Functions: They are the individual units of execution in AWS Lambda. Each function is responsible for encapsulating a specific piece of business logic or a rule.

2. Triggers: Events that invoke Lambda functions. Triggers can be various AWS services like HTTP requests, or custom events.

3. Execution Environment: AWS Lambda provides a runtime environment for executing functions. Developers can choose any one from supported programming languages. In this parameter, Nected has also a same-level GUI environment to help developers easily frame their rules and actions. 

Serverless Rules Engine Example

Here are a few real-time examples which can be solved by implementing a Serverless rules engine with AWS Lambda. 

Real-time Image Processing:

  • Use Case: An e-commerce platform that allows users to upload product images.
  • AWS Lambda Role: Lambda functions are triggered whenever an image is uploaded to an S3 bucket. The functions process the image in real-time to generate thumbnails, apply filters, and perform other operations. 

IoT Device Management:

  • Use Case: A smart home application managing various IoT devices.
  • AWS Lambda Role: Lambda functions respond to events generated by IoT devices. For example, a Lambda function could be triggered when a motion sensor detects movement. Rules like sending notifications, adjusting device settings, or activating other connected devices based on predefined conditions are added as rules in the platform.

Serverless Chatbot Interactions:

  • Use Case: A customer support chatbot integrated with messaging platforms.
  • AWS Lambda Role: Lambda functions handle incoming messages from users. The functions should analyze the message content, apply predefined rules to determine the appropriate response and trigger actions like retrieving account information or initiating specific processes.

Building a Serverless Rules Engine with AWS Lambda: A Simple Tutorial

In this section let us try to implement a simple rules engine with AWS Serverless event-driven architecture.

Define Rules: Start by clearly stating the guidelines or conditions you want your application to follow. For instance, if you have an e-commerce site, a rule could be "If the product quantity falls below 10, send an alert."

  • Example: In our bookstore app, if a book's stock goes below 5 units, we want to automatically reorder it. This is our rule: 'If book quantity < 5, trigger a reorder.

Write Lambda Functions: Now, you need to create small programs (Lambda functions) to execute these rules. These functions are like little workers that follow your instructions.

  • Example: Let's write a Lambda function called 'reorderHandler.' It checks if the book quantity is less than 5. If true, it sends a reorder request to the supplier. This function encapsulates our 'reorder' rule.

Configure Triggers: Think of triggers as events that kick off your Lambda functions. They could be something like a new file uploaded, a database change, or a scheduled task.

  • Example: Our trigger is an event in our database. When the book quantity changes, it activates our 'reorderHandler' function. So, the trigger is the 'book quantity change' event.

Deploy and Monitor: Deploying is like putting your rules and functions into action. Monitoring is keeping an eye on how well they're working.

  • Example: We deploy our 'reorderHandler' function and watch its performance using AWS CloudWatch. If many people buy a specific book, Lambda automatically creates more instances of our function to handle the increased demand.

Below is a simple code snippet that shows a simple rules engine of the e-commerce scenario above. This example assumes the use of a hypothetical lambda function and a trigger mechanism.

# Lambda function to handle the reorder rule
def reorder_handler(book_quantity):
    if book_quantity < 5:
        # Trigger reorder by sending a request to the supplier
        send_reorder_request()

# Trigger mechanism (hypothetical example)
def database_change_event(book_id, new_quantity):
    # Assume this function is called when there's a change in the book quantity in the database
    # It triggers the reorder_handler function if the quantity falls below 5
    reorder_handler(new_quantity)

# Function to simulate sending a reorder request
def send_reorder_request():
    print("Reorder request sent to the supplier.")

# Simulating a change in book quantity in the database
# This could happen in response to user purchases or other events
database_change_event(book_id="book123", new_quantity=3)

In this Python example, the reorder_handler function encapsulates the reorder rule. The database_change_event function simulates a trigger event when there's a change in the book quantity in the database. If the new quantity is below 5, it triggers the reorder_handler function, which, in turn, sends a reorder request to the supplier (simulated by the send_reorder_request function)

Benefits of AWS Lambda

There are various benefits of serverless functions in the cloud computing model. Here are some of the benefits of AWS Lambda Serverless Rules Engine:

  • Automatic Scaling: Lambda scales automatically in response to incoming events. It ensures optimal performance during varying workloads.
  • Cost Efficiency: With a pay-per-execution model, you only pay for the compute time consumed during rule execution. 
  • Integration with AWS Services: AWS services enable comprehensive solutions. For example, you can trigger Lambda functions based on changes in an Amazon S3 bucket or updates in a DynamoDB table.

Best Practices for Serverless Rules Engine Development

Here are some of the best practices to follow when you develop a serverless rules engine. 

  • Secure Code Practices: Write your Lambda functions with security in mind. Follow coding best practices to avoid security attacks. Avoid hardcoding sensitive information like passwords. Use secure coding practices to prevent unauthorized access to your functions.
  • IAM Roles and Permissions: AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) helps control who can do what with your functions. Assign specific roles to Lambda functions. Only give them the permissions they need.
  • Data Encryption: If your functions deal with sensitive data, encrypt it to add an extra layer of protection. Encrypt data at rest and in transit. Platforms like Nected have a good infrastructure to encrypt your data and help in content moderation, financial fraud etc. 
  • CloudWatch Integration: AWS CloudWatch helps you keep an eye on how your functions are doing – whether they're healthy, how many times they're triggered, etc.
  • Custom Metrics: Create your performance metrics to track specific aspects of your functions that are important to you.
  • Cold Start Mitigation: Cold starts to happen when a function hasn't been used for a while. 
  • Optimize Function Size: Smaller functions generally load faster. Optimize your code and dependencies to make an organized function base. 
  • Memory Allocation: Adjust the memory allocated to your functions based on their resource needs. This can impact performance.
  • Use a Proper Rules Engine Tool: Using a proper tool or a platform is the key to success in deploying your rules engine. A platform with simple architecture is the easiest way to create a rules engine with decision tables, rulesets, rule chains etc.

Nected is a low-code no-code platform built to help developers in rules management by providing a platform for teams to implement rules with minimal coding. Nected has an intuitive GUI to support non-tech developers in managing the rules easily. 

Nected also allows you to define actions based on results. You can integrate via DB and REST API connectors to trigger pre-defined actions. The interface has also covered versatile rule types to build any complex rules easily.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Serverless Rules Engine Design Pattern plays an important role in the software development process. You can create user-friendly systems with its modular architecture, decision-making capabilities, and pay-as-you-go model.

The collaborative nature of serverless rule management and the interface organizes the development process. Your organization can ensure the application’s performance across multiple domains with minimal cost involved.  By integrating flexibility, elasticity, and consideration of scalability by serverless services like AWS, Nected, Azure and Google Cloud you can improve your organization’s performance.

FAQs

Q1. How can a Serverless Rules Engine benefit my e-commerce business?

A Serverless Rules Engine in your e-commerce setup can automate order processing, personalize customer experiences, and dynamically adjust pricing strategies. This boosts efficiency, enhances customer satisfaction, and optimizes business operations without the need to manage dedicated servers.

Q2. Can a Serverless Rules Engine integrate seamlessly with my healthcare software?

Implementing a Serverless Rules Engine in your healthcare software can manage patient data processing, automate compliance checks, and adapt to evolving regulations easily. This ensures data accuracy, reduces manual workload, and keeps your healthcare operations agile and compliant.

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