Serverless Computing 101

4 min read

Serverless applications began gaining popularity when Amazon launched AWS Lambda back in the year 2014. Since then, we are becoming more familiar with Serverless Computing as it is exponentially growing in use and reference among the vendors who are entering the markets with their own solutions. The reason behind the hype of serverless computing is it requires no infrastructure management which is a modern approach for the enterprise to lessen up the workload.

What is Serverless Computing?

It is a special kind of software architecture which executes the application logic in an environment without visible processes, operating systems, servers, and virtual machines.

Serverless Computing is also responsible for provisioning and managing the infrastructure entirely by the service provider.

Serverless defines a cloud service that abstracts the details of the cloud-based processor from its user; this does not mean servers are no longer needed, but they are not user-specified or controlled. Serverless computing refers to serverless architecture which relates to the applications that depend on a third-party service (BaaS) and container (FaaS).

Serverless

Image Source: Tatvasoft

The top serverless computing providers like Amazon, Microsoft, Google and IBM provide serverless computing like FaaS to companies like NetFlix, Coca-cola, Codepen and many more.

  • FaaS

Function as a Service is a mode of cloud computing architecture where developers write business logic functions or java development code which are executed by the cloud providers. In this, the developers can upload loads of functionality into the cloud that can be independently executed. The cloud service provider manages everything from execution to scaling it automatically.

  • Key components of FaaS:

  • Events – Something that triggers the execution of the function is regarded as an event. For instance: Uploading a file or publishing a message.
  • Functions – It is regarded as an independent unit of deployment. For instance: Processing a file or performing a scheduled task.
  • Resources – Components used by the function is defined as resources. For instance: File system services or database services.
  • BaaS

Backend as a Service allows developers to write and maintain only the frontend of the application and enable them by using the backend service without building and maintaining them. The BaaS service providers offer in-built pre-written software activities like user authentication, database management, remote updating, cloud storage and much more.

The developers do not have to manage servers or virtual machines to keep their applications running which helps them to build and launch applications more quickly.

Serverless types

Image courtesy – Gallantra

Use-Cases of Serverless Computing

  • Batch jobs scheduled tasks: Schedules the jobs that require intense parallel computation, IO or network access.
  • Business logic: The orchestration of microservice workloads that execute a series of steps for applying your ideas.
  • Chatbots: Helps to scale at peak demand times automatically.
  • Continuous Integration pipeline: It has the ability to remove the need for pre-provisioned hosts.
  • Captures Database change: Auditing or ensuring modifications in order to meet quality standards.
  • HTTP REST APIs and Web apps: Sends traditional request and gives a response to the workloads.
  • Mobile Backends: Can build on the REST API backend workload above the BaaS APIs.
  • Multimedia processing: To execute a transformational process in response to a file upload by implementing the functions.
  • IoT sensor input messages: Receives signals and scale in response.
  • Stream processing at scale: To process data within a potentially infinite stream of messages.

Should you use Serverless Computing?

Merits

  • Fully managed services – you do not have to worry about the execution process.
  • Supports event triggered approach – sets the priorities as per the requirements.
  • Offers Scalability – automatically handles load balancing.
  • Only pay for Execution time – you need to pay just for what you used.
  • Quick development and deployment – helps to run infinite test cases without worrying about other components.
  • Cut-down time-to-market – you can look at your refined product in hours after creating it.

Demerits

  • Third-party dependency – developers have to depend on cloud service providers completely.
  • Lacking Operational tools – need to depend on providers for debugging and monitoring devices.
  • High Complexity – takes more time and it is difficult to manage more functions.
  • Functions cannot stay for a longer period – only suitable for applications having shorter processes.
  • Limited mapping to database indexes – challenging to configure nodes and indexes.
  • Stateless Functions – resources cannot exist within a function after the function stops to exit.

Serverless computing can be seen as the future for the next generation of cloud-native and is a new approach to write and deploy applications that allow developers to focus only on the code. This approach helps to reduce the time to market along with the operational costs and system complexity. Third-party services like AWS Lambda has eliminated the requirement to set up and configure physical servers or virtual machines. It is always best to take an expert’s advice that holds years of experience in software development with modern technologies.

Author Bio:

Working as a manager in a Software outsourcing company Tatvasoft.com, Vikash Kumar has a keen interest in blogging and likes to share useful articles on Computing. Vikash has also published his bylines on major publication like Kd nuggets, Entrepreneur, SAP and many more.

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