What if there was a way to run apps in the cloud without servers? With a bit of a misleading proposition, the notion behind “serverless computing” suggests a future without servers lies ahead. The reality is a practice in the world of application development that focuses on the needs of a given application, with no regard to servers or infrastructure. Ready or not, this concept is changing the way that companies consume and deliver cloud services. Is it a part of your future? In most cases, yes.
When you look at the cloud landscape, it clearly boasts a historical evolution of powerful architectural principles. From its early roots, cloud practices and terms such as IaaS, PaaS, along with many others emerged over time. The convention of application migration in the cloud has long utilized an infrastructure approach focused on the allocation of virtualized compute, network, and storage resources. Elastic components provide resource flexibility, designed to trigger on benchmark metrics and scheduled loads. As many have found in their cloud journeys, it isn’t a perfect system as it incurs overprovisioning and unexpected cloud spend.
What about serverless?
“Serverless” as a term is a bit misleading because servers are still needed to execute functions and host applications. It’s a matter of perspective and focus. Serverless applications are action-driven where resources are available in milliseconds. With virtualized systems, resources are deployed over hours and even days in environments that simulate compute, network, and storage. The near-instantaneous nature of serverless application design is incredibly efficient and quite granular, ensuring customers only consume resources when functions are active, and the customer never pays for idle server time.
Serverless applications are developed using small pieces of code that stack together to build the desired application. Presented in the form of functions, they are stateless operations with no context or history. Functions trigger response and actions in real-time.
- Plan for the unpredictable
Some applications need to be ready for anything. Usage and load are two significant concerns in the world of IT architecture. All too often, the standard method of integrating planned and predicted load changes is to overprovision virtual resources. The issue with that approach is that load is often unpredictable, making serverless resource allocation all the more appealing.
- Mobile focus
It turns out that mobile apps are a natural match for serverless design. Every application has a specialized resource and data profile. The collection, processing, and delivery of information vary according to the application needs. In most mobile scenarios, the information delivered to an application can be extracted down into lightweight, specific tasks. Efficiency is everything and serverless applications can deliver optimal scale, experience, and service.
- Flexible, instant scale
Resource consumption upon application demand is built into serverless design. Application-driven scaling is instant and can match any load requirements.
- Build applications, not servers
Forget about building servers and managing infrastructure. With serverless design, applications and development teams are free to pursue business logic and utility.
- Connect to other applications
Server infrastructure elements are practically invisible to developers as resources are available in real-time. Thin application logic can become the enabler of massive scale, zero waste, and capacity delivery. Serverless applications can connect to other complementary applications and third-party applications through triggers and related actions.
Ready or not, it’s coming
This practice is bound for mass adoption. The benefits are too compelling to disregard.
Organizations can create code, drop code, and deploy code with ease. High availability, scale, and flexibility are built in by default. This is a wave that is on the horizon and coming in quickly. Microsoft’s Azure cloud and the AWS cloud are two of the leading platforms that are incorporating support for this rapid serverless approach. Developers will soon come to expect this type of service environment. It makes sense for practitioners in the industry to learn and adapt now.
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