Does serverless programming promise a new age for programmer productivity? This question posed by Google in a blog post talks about how the main goal of serverless computing is to do away with commodified work, such as server maintenance so that developers can be more productive. However, the term serverless doesn’t imply that no servers are involved, it simply means that developers can shift the focus from server level to the task level. Going serverless also implies that the DevOps function is taken over by vendors.
For example, in serverless computing, one no longer needs to maintain a server since the bare metal servers installed in data centres mean a lot of heavy lifting and consume high power. Outsourcing the management of these servers (moving the infrastructure out of sight) helps IT teams focus on value-creation tasks. Case in point, one developer cited how moving all the servers to AWS and then creating Lambda function to shut down instances after some hours helped cut down on commodified work and save resources.
The rise of virtual machines was a step towards serverless computing since it simplified the operating environment for developers. Virtual Machines-enabled IT teams to virtualise their resources and share it across all OS and applications to support business needs. This allowed developers to reduce their responsibilities and focus on adding more business value. The move away from serverless also denotes the goal of cloud computing — to move IT away from maintenance tasks to focus on driving business value.
Overview of Serverless Architecture
Serverless architecture implies taking apart the server-side application into different functions which fall under Backend-as-a-Server and Function-as-a-Service which perform different tasks, For example, the FaaS platform runs functions in parallel containers which can be monitored and scaled separately. FaaS is a cloud service model where the code runs in containers and this code is triggered by events such as a call to API gateway.
Key Advantages Of Going Serverless:
- The serverless approach enables developers to reduce the time to market for applications and develop applications in hours. For example, developers rely on third-party APIs to build specific applications. For social, developers use Twitter, while for maps, there’s Mapbox and for building AI capabilities, there’s IBM Watson
- In terms of scalability, going serverless allows horizontal scaling which is managed by the provider and the other key benefit is that enterprises and startups only pay for the compute which they need.
- Serverless helps save the cost of human resources and computing power as well
- With the serverless approach, developers are able to focus more on the computing end, which comprises of apps and functions
- The serverless approach also frees developers and IT teams from maintaining the back-end infrastructure
- With the rise of cloud-based technologies, going serverless has become the default mode for enterprises and even startups
Serverless vs Containers
- In “serverless computing, the difference lies between the application code and how is this code is actually deployed and running on physical servers
- Meanwhile, in container platforms, the client is tasked with managing and running the operating-system level to define tasks such as what processes will run in how many containers
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Richa Bhatia is a seasoned journalist with six-years experience in reportage and news coverage and has had stints at Times of India and The Indian Express. She is an avid reader, mum to a feisty two-year-old and loves writing about the next-gen technology that is shaping our world.