It seems like everyone’s talking about serverless computing these days. But wait…when did we all stop using servers? In case you were wondering, servers are still necessary — serverless just means the average cloud user doesn’t have to worry about them anymore. You can now code freely without having to write an endless number of scripts to manage server provisioning.
Also called FaaS (Functions as a Service), serverless computing can bring nearly limitless, provision-less computing power to your applications. Here’s how it can make a difference for you.
Introducing Serverless Cloud Computing
Serverless computing, of course, still uses computers—serverless doesn’t mean we’re running applications without using computing resources at all. It does mean that users of the serverless computing service don’t have to provision virtual machines or directly manage the computers. This frees up developers to focus on their application development instead. For development teams, this makes development a lot easier.
For companies offering SaaS (Software as a Service) or running their own computing tasks, it makes it a great deal easier to get the right computing resources and have applications run.
Users taking advantage of serverless computing for their applications find that it has a lot of practical value. In a business setting, serverless computing essentially extends what organizations are able to accomplish with their applications and enables them to provide greater value to their customers.
In fact, serverless computing is valuable for many reasons. For instance:
- Scalability: Serverless computing makes it much easier to scale computing resources to meet the needs of your application.
- Access on-demand computing: Computing resources are available immediately, whenever the application needs them or whenever users initiate the system to start. There’s no waiting around for computing time to become available, because it’s already waiting and can be quickly deployed or used on schedule.
- Unlimited resources: Truthfully, serverless computing resources can seem almost unlimited. Your application can use whatever it needs to run, even if you suddenly have additional demand you didn’t plan for. While there’s no such thing yet as completely unlimited computing resources, serverless computing can get really close.
- Time-to-market: If you’re a developer, being able to quickly have the right resources you need to get your software ready is a really big deal.
- Security: Whenever human error is possible, it’s bound to happen eventually that someone will make a mistake. Serverless computing helps to protect against the inevitable. This makes it easier for you to focus on your work instead of preventing every possible security problem.
For these and other reasons, serverless computing is now more popular than ever before. It helps companies achieve their computing needs without having to spend so much time on computing resource management.
Switching from traditional servers to serverless computing can generate really mind-blowing savings, like cutting your monthly costs from $10k to just $370. Wow.
Before and After the Serverless Era
Doing anything without serverless computing can be fairly limiting once you’ve experienced the benefits. Getting here to the point where this technology really became available did take a while.
Yesterday’s Cloud, Today’s Cloud & Tomorrow’s Cloud
Just like A Christmas Carol’s three ghosts, the cloud has three personalities, too—let’s talk about yesterday’s cloud, today’s cloud, and the cloud of the future.
Originally, just the idea of outsourcing your computing to another network was a big deal. That other network’s servers could augment your existing computing resources and enable you to tackle much bigger projects than you could before. This was the very beginning of the cloud. With the Internet in its early days and basic server networks available to help you get a little extra computing help, it had a lot of promise for early software development and operations.
That’s yesterday’s cloud. It had severe limitations, like very limited overall resources. It was about the beginning of SaaS, and data analytics was on the horizon but not quite yet a big If you needed to scale, that might’ve required a discussion with your vendor and some changes onsite at their facilities.
At the end of the day, you were running virtual machines, but you still had to worry about the machines—not their hardware, because someone else was doing the maintenance—but you did have to manage your computing resources closely.
Today, there’s another cloud in town. It’s trying to free us from this close management. Cloud 2.0 has often been described in terms of data. Big data, analytics, and information. With fewer data constraints, companies are free to make the most of data in new ways.
And tomorrow, the cloud’s continued growth will bring us even more possibilities, making data use more practical for a variety of different industry applications.
Serverless Implementation Examples
In recent times, many organizations have successfully transitioned their applications over to serverless computing.
For event-driven applications, the move or a partial move to serverless makes sense. These applications rely a lot on input from users that triggers the need for computing resources. Until specific events are triggered, the applications may need very little at all—but once a function triggers, the computing power needs increase almost asymptotically very rapidly. In many cases it’s tough to scale these applications without readily-accessible and affordable computing power.
Why Should You Move to Serverless?
Serverless is ideal for applications that have a lot of function-driven events, such as events driven by a mouse click. It’s great for systems that rely on user engagement—and require big bursts of computing power at key moments. It would be hard to have on premises infrastructure to meet these needs. It also doesn’t make sense to have to recreate resource management processes and micromanage machine use when you’re creating or operating software that works this way.
From a technical standpoint, it offers benefits such as:
- Supports all major server side languages/frameworks like Node.js, Python, Java, Scala and Kotlin.
- Software lifecycle management from a single platform i.e. you can build, deploy, update and delete.
- Safety function for smooth deployment and resource manager
- Minimal configuration required
- Functions optimized for CI/CD workflows
- Supports automation, optimization and best practices of enterprise computing
- 100% extensible functions and frameworks
Key Steps in Migrating Existing Structure to Serverless
Making the transition to serverless computing doesn’t have to be too difficult. As long as you start with a viable plan and a willingness to adapt, you shouldn’t have too much trouble.
Here’s a few steps to get you started. You’ll be setting up an account with a provider and testing it with your own function. From there, you can quickly start tailoring the service to your needs.
Adapt this test process to your own applications and business needs, but choose something simple so you can play around with your new account:
- Begin with an application, or an idea.
- Create an account with a serverless computing provider, such as AWS Lambda, Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure.
- Prepare to test your new account. To do so, you’ll want to create two buckets. For one of the buckets, you’ll upload photos or another file type you’ll be transforming. The other will receive these files once you’re done.
- In your management console, you’ll now create a new function using the two buckets you just set up. Specify how the buckets will be used.
- Name your function and set it aside for later.
- Create a directory and set up your workspace on your local machine.
- Test your function.
Once you’ve tested the process, you can start looking at how existing code (and new, from-scratch code, too) can leverage serverless computing capabilities.
Is Serverless the Future of Cloud Computing?
With so many uses and promises for the future, serverless is likely to continue playing a prominent role in the future of cloud computing. It’s not for every application and company, but for event-driven functions you need a little (or a lot) of on-demand computing power for, it makes sense.
Your business may benefit tremendously from making a move to the serverless cloud. Parkar can help your organization make sense of the cloud and how it can help you reach your business goals. Contact us for more information about how we can make a difference.
Innovative Director of Software Engineering. Entrepreneurial, methodical senior software development executive with extensive software product management and development experience within highly competitive markets. I am an analytical professional skilled in successfully navigating corporations large and small through periods of accelerated growth.