The evolution of computing architecture began with physical servers, which required stacking and racking the big physical boxes and installing an operating system. These traditional physical servers consisted of network, processing power, operating system, and memory with storage capacity to run applications.
Physical servers are effective for high-level traffic, which comes up with accuracy and a dedicative hosting environment. The IT staff has direct access to the system, enabling them to quickly respond and troubleshoot if they go offline.
Even today, they are in practical use for certain businesses because of the easier customization of physical hardware as per their needs. But the biggest disadvantage of traditional physical servers is the high cost to buy all the hardware parts, maintain and upgrade the system from time to time, and cost the resources indefinitely. Besides, separate space and energy resources must be allocated depending upon the size of the company.
Nowadays, companies are less worried about their IT infrastructures and focused on their key target by virtue of the cloud. Serverless computing (or simply serverless) has gained momentum due to the cloud’s gradual development and insufficient manpower to manage and compute infrastructures. Evidently, serverless is an emerging cloud computing model and the next logical path on the advancement of cloud computing, representing an evolution of cloud programming models, abstractions, and platforms.
The word ‘serverless’ doesn’t stand for ‘No Servers.’ Servers are an integral part of this concept. However, the cloud provider handles the complexity of managing individual servers and provides a temporary compute service that will execute a piece of code on-demand triggered through requests and events, with the service consumer being charged only for the duration of execution.
In the traditional cloud computing scenario, enterprises need to pay a fixed and a recurring amount for using virtual servers to run their websites or applications, irrespective of whether the cloud services are being used or not. However, with serverless computing, enterprises will need to pay only for usage with no charge for idle time, i.e., pay-per-execution.
From an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) customer’s perspective, serverless represents a paradigm shift since it provides developers with a simpliﬁed programming model for creating cloud applications. It abstracts away most operational concerns and lowers the cost of deploying cloud code by charging for execution time rather than resource allocation.
From a cloud provider’s perspective, serverless computing provides an additional opportunity to control the entire development stack. It reduces operational costs by efﬁcient optimization and management of cloud resources, offers a platform that encourages to use additional services in their ecosystem, and lowers the effort required to author and manage applications.
Benefits of serverless computing
- Fully managed service: As discussed earlier, serverless is a fully managed service provided by cloud service providers. The developers don’t need to worry about the underlying infrastructure, operating system, middleware, language runtime, and its management and dependencies.
- Supports event-driven approach: Functions are triggered based on events. Different cloud services and existing applications that support a trigger mechanism can initiate and launch a function.
- No infrastructures to manage: Along with the aid of a serverless platform, the developer can instantly write and deploy the code beyond concerning the hardware, operating system, and servers. As the managing and patching of servers are taken care of by vendors, the user can save money and time.
- Provides infinite scalability and built-in high availability: Depending on the user traffic, functions scale horizontally in a completely automated and elastic fashion, which is managed by the cloud service provider.
- Less-Ops: Serverless doesn’t necessarily mean NoOps for the service consumers; however, it can definitely mean ‘Less-Ops’ as operational tasks like debugging, testing, troubleshooting, etc., remains while the infrastructure management is entirely outsourced to the cloud service provider.
- Pay for execution time: In a serverless computing model, service consumers pay only for the duration of execution of a function and the number of operations executed. When a process is not executed, no charge is levied – thus eliminating any idle time. This is a significant benefit over cloud computing, where users are charged on an hourly basis for running virtual machines. In short, you do not have to pay anything if it’s not running at all.
- Multitude uses: As Parallel processing could be achieved through two or more computers between the network, it can be stateless and scalable. Adopting serverless architecture, all sorts of mobile and desktop software, and backends for e-commerce, CRUD applications, and web apps can be readily assembled. Startups that want to grow and innovate can easily find serverless within viable cost.
Let’s sum up. The key promise of serverless computing is to make computing services more accessible, fine-grained, and affordable by managing operational concerns. Serverless computing enables developers to implement business logic, leaving the operational concerns to cloud providers, such as Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and IBM. In turn, the providers turn to automation, which they achieve through capable serverless platforms, such as AWS Lambda, Azure Functions, or Google Cloud Functions, and IBM Cloud Functions (based on Apache OpenWhisk).