Innovation in the world of computing occurs at a startling pace in each and every area, generating important progress in the processes related to “Serverless Computing”, also known as “Serverless Architecture”.
In this context, an increasing number of companies are turning to the “Cloud” as a way to optimize the creation and execution of applications and processes, minimizing the use of servers. This is where Serverless Computing comes in as a key element for the proper development of internal software architecture.
Although Serverless Computing reduces the use of a server, the server does not disappear in its entirety; it is simply optimized and reassigned by the cloud provider, who will ultimately be responsible for all the routine activities associated with the servers’ maintenance.
In the beginning, creating a web application required the use of hardware that would allow the execution of a server, sometimes resulting in a complicated and expensive process. Later on, when the cloud came along, companies and developers had the possibility to rent spaces on remote servers to carry out their activities.
However, this process was not entirely efficient either, since companies ended up buying more space than necessary in order to ensure the system would remain stable in case of very high demand peaks, thus incurring in additional expenses. This is why developers began to see the need for a platform that would allow them to pay only for the space used.
In this sense, the story of Serverless Computing is recent, the first reports of this technology being found in an article by the specialist in decentralized applications and serverless development, Ken Fromm, published in October 2012, titled “Why the Future of Software and Apps is Serverless.”
By November 2014, the Amazon company launched its “AWS Lambda” service, which allows developers to execute code and automatically organize resources without the need to manage the underlying infrastructure during.
A year later, in July 2015, Amazon created “API Gateway”, a service for the creation and maintenance of API REST, HTTP and WebSocket, where developers can generate Application Programming Interfaces that access Amazon or other Web Services, as well as data stored in the cloud. Finally, in October 2015, “Serverless Framework” was born as the first framework developed for creating applications on AWS Lambda.
Serverless architecture overview
Serverless Computing, or serverless architecture, does not imply the total absence of a server as such; what this system actually seeks is for the cloud provider to adequately and efficiently manage all processes related to the server.
In this sense, one of the outstanding features of Serverless Computing is the ability to let go of the traditional way of managing servers in a company, replacing it with automated management by the cloud provider.
This means that the cloud provider is responsible for managing all organizational resources during the execution of a particular activity, leaving behind the old administrative action carried out by users within the organization.
Under this new scheme, a company’s IT activities are billed according to the need for resources for each particular task, thus creating a clear contrast with the old model where often unused spaces were hired: this allows for major capital savings, since the company only pays for what is actually used.
In addition to the above, the Serverless Computing model eliminates the need to make server reservations. As a result, developers no longer need to access the server through an Application Programming Interface (API) to add resources, since the cloud provider is now responsible for doing this automatically.
Serverless Computing has a number of advantages when compared to the traditional model, including the following:
- It significantly reduces developer operating costs by allowing developers to pay only for used space.
- Higher productivity for companies, with the possibility to assign tasks related to the administration of servers to third parties, and thus focus directly on application development.
- Serverless Computing platforms reduce the time associated with marketing, since developers will have the option of gradually modifying or adding code.
- Providers of this new service can manage everything related to code scaling under real demand.
- Ability to focus on unifying software development and its operational capacities, that is, adopting “DevOps” system engineering practices.
- Optimized application development incorporating essential components of the BaaS model offered by other providers.
Regarding the disadvantages or downsides of Serverless Computing, the following may be mentioned:
- Significant restriction on the interactive capacity of cloud providers, directly affecting system customization and flexibility.
- Dependence on service providers.
- It could cause some problems associated with the lack of control of the company’s own servers.
- Access to virtual machines and operating systems is limited.
- Implementing a serverless architecture implies an economic effort, since it typically requires updating the systems to meet the provider’s demands.
What role does the cloud provider play in Serverless Computing?
Cloud providers play a fundamental role in serverless architecture, since they are in charge of running the servers and allocating resources for developers at the same time.
In this sense, cloud providers offer two main methods within the Serverless Computing scheme, called “Function as a Services” (FaaS) and “Backend as a Services” (BaaS).
The first method, “Function as a Services” (FaaS), allows developers to apply micro services when writing and updating different codes to be implemented in the cloud, thereby simplifying the incorporation of data, reducing execution times, as well as ensuring a timely management of the supplier.
On the other hand, the “Backend as a Services” (BaaS) method is based on the provision of services to third parties based on the Application Programming Interface (API) established by the provider, such as databases, authentication services, and encryption processes.
Finally, it is worth noting that large cloud providers work under the “Function as a Services” (FaaS) mode, such as AWS Lambda from Amazon, Azure Functions from Microsoft, IBM Cloud Functions and Google Cloud.
Serverless Computing has certainly had a significant impact in the world of computing, allowing developers to focus on creating software without having to worry about the application management or production code, since the cloud provider is in charge of efficiently managing the resources necessary for this important activity.
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