Serverless computing is one of the main trends in cloud systems. Since the emergence of this approach to software development in 2014, its popularity has constantly increased, which means that this technology has significant potential for future widespread use.
According to GlobeNewswire, firms primarily move to the cloud to cut their business costs. Experts at Multisoft Virtual Academy have calculated that small businesses can save 40% on IT costs by using cloud computing. Learn about serverless computing, its elements, strengths, and weaknesses.
What is serverless computing? Serverless definition
Serverless computing is a cloud-based system that allows companies to access the capacity they need. The customer only pays for the features he uses. The program is provided with resources only after it is started.
In a serverless computing approach, the provider controls the execution of code on the server. As a result, customers no longer have to build and deploy core infrastructure that made running applications difficult in the past. The main task of serverless computing is simplifying the procedure for creating code designed to run on cloud platforms.
Some people misunderstand the term «serverless» because services remain essential to the service delivery system. However, now the responsibility for their placement and management falls on the shoulders of suppliers. Developers can safely deal with coding without delving into server maintenance's intricacies.
Key features of serverless computing
The serverless architecture offers many features for coding and creating software. The main features of such a system are as follows:
- It offers computing runtimes known as function-as-a-service (FAAS). It's a ready-to-use framework that easily adapts to your business needs. Customers buy FAAS from third-party vendors and pay for the actual run time, not pre-allocated capacity. It allows firms to spend fewer resources building an application.
- It provides for the addition of isolation boundaries for maximum security and containers to facilitate testing and packaging of the software. The system uses a «short-term persistent storage» approach and eliminates the need to store resources in volatile memory.
- The technology enables on-demand usage and event-driven execution algorithms to prevent high downtime costs and reduce operating costs.
Serverless technology enables DevOps adoption at the expense of infrastructure diversity and significant computing resources. The system also allows for earlier deployment of software to the market.
Primary 3 elements of the serverless computing
You can't just add a serverless architecture to any application. Its interface must adapt to short bursts of requests and flexible integration. The interface must support the transfer of critically large or small amounts of information. Consider other fundamental elements of serverless computing:
- FAAS is the primary building block of the system, which is responsible for supporting the logic and determining the allocation of resources in a particular scenario.
- The internal database is where the data that needs to be shared with the user is stored. There are different storage options, from dedicated repositories to SQL databases, but most developers prefer the backend as a service (BAAS).
- API Gateway provides a connection between the FAAS and the client interface. If the user initiates an action, it is passed through the API Gateway to fire the event through the FAAS service.
To ensure system security, you can use a token service, where temporary credentials are generated for users, which can be used when activating functions. You can also add a serverless identity and access control service to the fabric.
Pros and cons of the serverless computing
Serverless computing technology solves many complex engineering problems and provides comprehensive solutions, allowing specialists to quickly create prototypes and develop software. Consider other arguments in favor of using such a system:
Serverless Computing: Advantages
Serverless computing is a cost-effective solution that eliminates the need for expensive cloud architecture and hardware. Clients pay only for the resources they need, which allows them to manage capital as rationally as possible.
Supports an event-driven approach
Serverless computing provides for the launch of functions based on events. Efficient cloud services and existing digital products that support activation mechanisms can trigger the launch of features.
Professionals who choose serverless tools no longer need to worry about the standards that define code scaling. Such an architecture enables the automatic scaling of applications.
Serverless Computing: Disadvantages
While serverless techniques offer many benefits, there are significant risks for some development teams. Whether or not these are real disadvantages for you depends on what kind of digital product you are creating:
You transfer some of your personal information to another company, which means you cannot guarantee 100% protection. About 60% of companies that refuse to implement serverless systems admit they are worried about data protection.
If there are problems in operation, it is not as easy to determine the source of the problem as we would like.
Understanding, anticipating, and preparing for all the challenges mentioned above can be vital to meeting end-user needs. Responsible technology adoption will give your company a competitive edge with serverless technologies.
Serverless vs. other cloud backend models
Serverless and cloud computing are two different technologies for delivering power to users. Let's analyze the main differences between serverless platforms and other cloud-backed models, such as infrastructure as a service (IaaS), backend as a service (BaaS), and platform as a service (PaaS).
Serverless vs. IaaS
IaaS cloud computing offers servers, storage, and software over the Internet. Developers can access resources at will, paying only for the functionality they plan to use, without spending money on building and maintaining their IT infrastructure.
The company's service administrator and technical department must monitor how many resources it uses to choose the best tariff plan.
As for software with a serverless architecture, it is deployed when such a need arises since the event activates the program code. The public cloud provider allocates the capacity needed to carry out the procedure, and the company stops paying when the code is finished.
Serverless vs. BaaS
The primary difference between serverless and BaaS is scalability. If you are using a serverless architecture, the program scales automatically as you use it. The BaaS system does not offer automatic scaling of digital products because many platforms limit the number of requests in a certain amount of time to avoid uncontrolled scaling.
Today's BaaS vendors build platforms that work the same way as serverless models and ensure applications automatically scale. Remember, a serverless architecture starts in response to an event. BaaS digital products are often not event-driven, requiring more service capacity.
Serverless vs. PaaS
Serverless applications are easy to scale in any direction because it depends on demand and does not require the participation of a developer. Although the PaaS system provides a scaling option, the specialist must choose the change parameters. PaaS offers more control over deployment than serverless models.
By choosing a serverless approach, companies pay only for the functionality they use. If a developer opts for PaaS, paying for the services monthly, regardless of the use volume, is necessary, making the system a more predictable and often cheaper option.
The use cases of serverless computing
With a non-standard set of attributes and benefits, serverless architecture is ideal for various use cases involving microservices, streaming data processing, etc. Let's discuss the most common use cases for the technology:
- Creation of mobile and web applications: there is an increasing demand for the use of serverless structures in the design of classic applications for smartphones and PCs due to the ability of the system to act as a FAAS. A well-known example is Coca-Cola's serverless payment service on vending machines.
- Chatbots: such systems are suitable for all platforms with unstable traffic, for example, virtual assistants, due to their ability to scale.
- Live streaming services: serverless solutions are highly efficient when processing streaming data. Once a new feature is added, they are faster than standard cloud servers because only one function needs to be performed.
In a recent survey hosted by IBM, IT professionals said they use serverless technologies to run various applications, including customer relationship management, business intelligence, finance, and more.
Top 8 Serverless Computing Tools in 2023
After introducing the first Amazon AWS Lambda system, serverless computing was in great demand. Within a few years, other vendors successfully offered their solutions. Let's talk about the primary tools in the serverless technology industry:
- Google Cloud is the best solution for cloud storage users as it integrates seamlessly with other corporate services to ensure a straightforward approach to implementing serverless solutions. Cloud Functions focuses on generating microservices and creates a comfortable web development environment.
- Microsoft Azure is a system that can successfully work with other services, such as DevOps workflow. Microsoft has simplified the functionality configuration and added built-in monitoring that avoids performance issues.
- IBM Cloud offers an open, portable serverless computing system that companies can run on different deployment systems, including on-premises. Integration with IBM API Gateway provides optimal control of API endpoints.
These systems offer a similar feature set that allows your organization to run digital products in a managed environment.
The future of the serverless computing
With the development of serverless technologies, their adaptation to various industries is happening at lightning speed. Everyone wants to use this technology and experience its benefits. It is essential to understand how this will affect the future, in the center of which we all find ourselves.
Since AWS Lambda has taken on the mission of combining IaaS with serverless models, it will be used over time as a hybrid system that spans different environments.
One of the main problems with serverless computing is its low level of protection. Experts hope to solve this problem shortly to present users with a completely secure architecture.
Another challenge with serverless computing is the complex testing and debugging processes associated with the lack of unified testing systems. This approach will become easier as API testing evolves and modern testing tools are added.
As serverless technology is one of the fastest growing in the world, there will be more and more use cases for it in the coming years. This system should fill in the gaps left by Edge. The integration of these technologies will contribute to the emergence of new tools for the development of digital products.
The main goal of using serverless technologies is to simplify the interaction of developers with servers and reduce the cost of creating applications through billing for payment upon the use of the functionality. Although serverless technology is considered a relatively new concept with drawbacks, many companies of all sizes actively use this approach.
Fortune Business Insights expects serverless computing to grow at an impressive CAGR and drive revenue by 2029. This technology is optimal for organizations looking for rational and high-quality software.