In the world of software architecture, serverless computing, or the more general term- ‘serverless,’ is a trendy topic. As seen in the news, books, and numerous conferences, cloud computing services providers like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are substantially invested in serverless computing. But what is serverless exactly, and is it worth the time and consideration for your business? This article is dedicated to enlightening you with a clear view of the subject and its various dynamics.
What is serverless computing?
Serverless computing is an execution model in the world of cloud computing services. In this model, the cloud computing services provider runs the server. Therefore, the misnomer comes from the fact that instead of the client, the service provider takes the responsibility of managing the underlying infrastructure. But, it must not be viewed simply as an Infrastructure-as-a-Service or IaaS. Because unlike the traditional IaaS, this execution model manages the allocation of machine resources dynamically. Serverless computing provides the backend services as an as-used basis where the client is charged precisely for the quantity of resources they consume. The serverless model evolves from the earlier pricing practices that depended on pre-purchasing units of capacity. The “pay as you go” method of serverless computing has turned into a modern utility computing.
While companies have tried to introduce this metered pricing policy as early as 2006, it was only after 2014 when Amazon introduced AWS Lambda that this innovation of the auto-scaling model was popularised. Giant cloud infrastructure vendors like Google and Microsoft have joined the playfield subsequently. By mid-2016, Serverless had become a dominant model in the industry.
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Why is serverless computing worth considering?
The question remains: should you consider this dynamic infrastructure that highlights the on-demand, auto-scaling configurations? Below, you can find the provisions explained that might work as a magic bullet for your developmental needs.
No management hassle –
The innovation of the serverless model eliminates the necessity of server management hassle for the client. The developers need not worry about the scaling, capacity planning, and subsequent maintenance operation of the server. The cloud computing services provider takes responsibility for all of these. Terminating unnecessary engagement of the developers saves plenty of time. Resultantly, businesses can expand the creative capacity of the developers.
In the early days of application development, clients had to pre-purchase fixed numbers of physical servers or amounts of server space from vendors to ensure a smooth-running capacity. This plan, generally, led to an over-purchase and waste of investment. A significant element of the serverless architecture is the incorporation of the pay-as-you-go plan, which addresses this issue of unwanted investment. The serverless model can determine the number of resources used by the developers and bill accordingly. Moreover, as the vendor manages the server operations, businesses can significantly reduce their investment in DevOps services. Thus, the overall expense also sees a reduction.
Swift deployment –
A serverless infrastructure frees the need for uploading code to servers or does any backend configuration to deploy a working version of an application. The vendor creates a provision for uploading the code- one function at a time or all at once. Therefore, a serverless architecture enables the developer to patch, fix, or push any update to an application swiftly. The entire deployment process, by extension, becomes rapid. Businesses can cut time to market using a serverless model.
Simplified scalability –
A traditionally structured application often faces the issue of scalability if the usage increases suddenly. Whereas, when built on a serverless architecture, applications can take advantage of the inherent scalability in it. The auto-scaling capacity of the serverless model can handle any expected or unexpected increase in application usage. Vending a serverless architecture thus removes the possibility of failure in scaling up the application code. It is the vendor who manages the increase in the process request and scales on-demand. For the client, the issue of scalability is simplified.
Decreased latency –
Any increase in latency is disastrous. When applications are hosted on an origin server located in a single place, users can experience lag. Businesses can use a serverless model to decrease the latency of their application effectively. Depending on the vendor, the application can be run closer to the end-user using a serverless architecture.
Thus, serverless computing does not mean the complete elimination of servers. Instead, the sense of abstraction emerges from the fact that the client does not have to take the server’s burden. Although serverless computing improved the overall utilization, much has also been discussed about the drawbacks.
Evaluating developers’ work or integrating code into the in-house development and testing pipelines, and vendor lock-in are some difficulties that the serverless architectural model currently faces. However, as an open-ended cloud workshop, the serverless model brings an optimism of creative culture for any business or industry. The dynamism, precision, and real-time benefits can outweigh its limitations for many sectors.