Introducing Miriam Schwab

Introducing Miriam Schwab

Miriam Schwab, CEO of Strattic, will be facilitating the Serverless and JAMstack topic at HostCamp 1.0 this year. Over the past 12 years, Miriam built a leading open-source web development company, taught herself how to code, and become a thought leader and influencer within the Israeli startup and open-source communities. Miriam founded Strattic in 2018, a serverless WordPress-as-a-Service provider focused on security and accessibility.

What To Expect

Miriam will start with an introduction to Serverless and JAMstack, sharing highlights of her own experience. She’ll continue with questions for participants and then open the topic broadly, inviting participants to share their own perspectives and experience.

Q&A with Miriam

I asked Miriam a few questions and included her answers below.

What is serverless and JAMstack? How would you explain these two terms to someone new to the topic?

Serverless and JAMstack rethink our relationship with processing servers. They are different but also overlap: serverless is a new approach innovated by Amazon Web Services (AWS) that removes the need for ongoing devops and server maintenance in order to achieve dynamic functionality. So instead of provisioning, managing and maintaining server instances, you can scrap the servers, and just run serverless functions on the fly as you need them, with the rest of the application being as “static” as possible. This makes deploying applications much easier in many respects.

JAMstack refers to a more modern web stack that is comprised of Javascript, APIs and Markup (thus, “JAM”). Sites built with the JAMstack tend to be deployed using static site generators, which may sound like it’s 2001 all over again, but they involve a more modern and efficient build process. They also do not need to have persistent provisioned servers and rely heavily on APIs and Javascript in order to achieve dynamic functionality, which makes them very secure and performant. In many cases, a JAMstack website will use serverless functions to create dynamic functionality.

I recently gave a talk on the JAMstack and WordPress at WordCamp London, which gives a more detailed overview of the evolution of the web and why serverless and the JAMstack are important to the world of WordPress:

Why are these topics important within the context of WordPress infrastructure and the Open Web?

WordPress is an awesome platform that continues to grow, and for good reason. However, the underlying LAMP architecture is starting to show its age. Issues related to security, performance and scalability are prevalent and increasing every day. Also, today’s web developers want to work with today’s web technologies, and our community is having a hard time attracting top talent as a result.

Every effort to bring WordPress more in line with the modern web has an impact on its longevity and future. Serverless and the JAMstack are definitely the hot technologies of today, and integrating these newer approaches in the WordPress project means that the open nature of the web is hopefully preserved.

There is an issue with AWS serverless being proprietary, creating a whole world of vendor lock-in. However, there are some emerging Open Source serverless projects like Apache OpenWhisk that provide hope.

How did your own interests in the topic develop? What have been some of the highlights of your experience at Strattic so far?

I founded a WordPress development agency about thirteen years ago, and built it up to become one of the leading agencies in Israel. Our clients were prominent tech companies, non-profits, universities and more. Over the years the issues related to speed and security became increasingly painful and costly to all involved. Since I’m a web professional, I try to always stay up to date on the latest developments in my field, and started to learn about static site generators and the JAMstack. I was very jealous of these website’s security, speed and scalability, but it was clear that static site generators could not replace the usability, extensibility, and scale of WordPress. So I thought: why not bridge these two worlds in some way? And thus Strattic was born. As I started to architect Strattic and consult with really smart friends and mentors, serverless kept coming up as a way to efficiently build out our platform, and replace native WordPress dynamic functionality, to the point where it became a significant part of what we do.

The highlights for me at Strattic are when we show our clients how much faster their sites become without changing one line of code. It makes them so happy! Also, we have proven how malware and other security breaches are irrelevant with sites generated on Strattic. For example, we onboarded a site infected with malware that Google had banned from their search index. We decided to do an experiment and published the site as static without cleaning it, and then requested that Google re-index the site. Google agreed, because the malware had been left behind in the WP site, but was nowhere to be found on the database-free, serverless version! I thought that was very cool.

And finally I really love the opportunity I’ve had to learn about so many different areas. It’s been a wild ride 🙂