Serverless

Serverless Computing

by Arso and Ilona
7 min
22. Nov 2021.

Discover what serverless computing is, who should care about it, when and why.

Whether you're a beginner or advanced developer, you know how much time it takes to manage the infrastructure and make the computers run smoothly. You might even be dreaming about a solution that enables you to take on projects that directly drive business value versus spending your time and resources on maintenance. What if we told you there is one? A solution that doesn't require thinking about the underlying physical machine that your code runs on and lets you just code. A solution simplifies deploying code into production without thinking about the hardware or OS your code runs on. A solution that improves speed and scaling and significantly lowers runtime costs. You'll think we're crazy. But we're not talking gibberish. All of that, and more, is possible with serverless computing. It's like a dream come true. Read further and learn about serverless platforms.

Who uses Serverless Computing?

Serverless computing offers many advantages over traditional cloud-based or server-centric infrastructure

This part will explain how serverless helps improve the digital experience for anybody who decides to use it.

Serverless for Developers

For many developers, serverless architectures offer greater scalability, more flexibility, and quicker time to release, all at a reduced cost. How’s that? Although serverless computing does take place on servers, developers never have to deal with the servers, and the vendor manages them. Thanks to that, companies can reduce the investment, which lowers expenses, and it also frees up developers to create and expand their applications without being constrained by server capacity. To sum up, these are the reason why serverless computing is popular in developers’ environments:

It’s simple

Using a serverless infrastructure, there is no need to upload code to servers or do any backend configuration to release a working version of an application. Developers can very quickly upload bits of code and release a new product.

Straight-forward

Code runs anywhere because the application is not hosted on an origin server. That reduces latency because requests from the user no longer have to travel all the way to an origin server.

Secure

Using serverless architectures, applications get a solid start from a security point of view. That is because serverless allows companies not to worry about network, infrastructure, or host security.

Companies

Nowadays, many massive companies have changed their strategy to serverless. Companies using serverless applications can speed up the development of new services. Serverless allows companies to run their applications in any cloud, hybrid, or multi, and stay in control with the help of cloud management. Companies can quickly make changes, meet customer needs, and benefit from the latest trends in innovative solutions. Here are the two most outstanding examples of companies heavily relying on serverless computing.

Coca-Cola

One of the most successful companies globally started migrating to serverless platforms back in 2016. Popular Coke wanted to cut down its costs, and by using serverless technology, it earned tremendous success. Their costs went from 12k$ down to 4.500$.   What did they do? They decided to service their vending machines by the serverless framework. This framework made their communication much easier and faster and hosting much cheaper.   How looks like this communication?   Ok, you are thirsty. You spot a Coke vending machine. Fata Morgana! You press the button. The holly hardware gives a payment gateway to process the purchase. Behind the scenes, it makes a rest API call to the AWS API Gateway, triggering a lambda function. AWS Lambda handles all the business logic behind the transaction. And there you go, a bottle of favorite drink is in front of you, ready to please you. Another awesome thing is that all the communication happens in less than a second, thanks to the serverless implementation. And yup, Coke needs to pay all this support only when there is a request from a client. Isn’t this one of the best examples of how to make serverless services work for you? If you're not a Coca-Cola fan, how about movies and chill?

NETFLIX

This fast-growing, over-the-top media service, is one of the serverless pioneers. Netflix uses the serverless platform to deliver almost 7 billion hours of video to over 60 million customers worldwide. They implemented serverless to encode media files. So basically, when videos are uploaded on the platform, they aggregate, validate, tag, and publish them to their CDN through the encoding process. The serverless structure also allows Netflix to backup their content and make an offsite copy. Beyond that, Netflix can track any new alerts and notifications on its dashboard. Serverless made your Netflix&Chill more enjoyable!

What is Serverless Computing?

We have a confession to make. Serverless doesn’t mean there is no server. Let there be no confusion.

Instead, serverless computing is an event-driven application design and deployment paradigm where all the computing resources are provided as scalable cloud services. Is there a difference between serverless and headless?

Let’s explain that. Serverless computing is a model of cloud computing execution wherein the cloud providers dynamically manage the resource allocation of the servers. In simple terms, serverless computing is a process of backend services provided on an as-used basis. Serverless computing simplifies the code deployment process while maintaining the operations, scalability, and capacity planning similar to microservices. It is not a pre-purchased capacity of the cloud server; rather, it depends upon the amount of the resource that has been consumed. So, the users can write and deploy the code without worrying about the infrastructure. Now, we can deduce the two most significant benefits of serverless computing:

  • developers can focus on the business goals of the code they write rather than on infrastructural questions

  • organizations only pay for the compute resources they Managing complex requests indeed used in a very granular fashion, rather than buying physical hardware or renting cloud instances month by month

Who wouldn’t like writing and deploying code without the need for server software and hardware management? These aren’t the only pros of using serverless computing, and here are more of them.

Why should you choose Serverless Computing?

When people once talked about serverless computing, it was so-called back-end-as-a-service scenarios, where a mobile app would connect to a back-end server hosted entirely in the cloud. Today, it’s function-as-a-service, in which a customer writes code that only tackles business logic and uploads it to a provider. That provider takes care of all hardware provisioning, virtual machine, and container management. The server-centric and cloud-based infrastructure is the traditional way of computing, while serverless offers several benefits. Developers around the globe highly appreciate serverless computing and enjoy the benefits of more flexibility, scalability, provisioning, cost efficiency, quicker release time, more accessible back-end, and management. Simply put, development is more manageable and operations cheaper because of serverless computing. Its main advantages are:

  • It scales with demand automatically

  • It eliminates server maintenance

  • It’s event-driven, meaning the code self invokes when triggered by request.

  • It significantly reduces server costs because you don’t pay for idle

  • Less administration (if the cloud provider owns the platform, they are the one dealing with administration)

Another core advantage of serverless computing is its quicker turnaround since it simplifies the complicated deployment process by adding and modifying the code on a piecemeal basis. The simplified back-end code with FaaS (Function as a Service) works as an API call with independent and simple functions performing on individual purposes. So, when should you use it?

When should you use Serverless Computing?

As mentioned, serverless is all about managing the complexities of using traditional systems by removing the need to run servers and control infrastructure. Some application types help avail the full benefits of serverless architecture more than others.

This is when you should use serverless approach:

  • When you need to decrease the go-to-market time.

  • When you are building lightweight applications.

  • When you are creating flexible applications that are expected to be expanded and updated frequently and more often

  • When you experience inconsistent use of the application by having peak periods.

  • When partial functions are required closer to the user-end.

In a nutshell, serverless computing is best when you need less setup more functionality. Developers can gain extra time performing the dynamic and changing work without worrying about which server they need to complete the task. No installing operating systems, tweaking configuration files, and worrying about redundancy and uptime. This is the serverless main idea and purpose. Organizations also benefit from a highly cost-effective approach. Although there are many advantages, serverless is not for everyone. Learn about serverless cons and when is not the right time to use them.

When should you avoid Serverless Architecture?

Specific scenarios require traditional, dedicated servers rather than serverless architecture. For example, serverless is not for you if you have large applications with a constant and estimated workload. Or when the legacy application cannot support serverless architecture because of the infrastructure and the programming approach. In such cases, developers and business owners will not be able to avail the benefits of serverless computing; rather, it may increase the cost and effort instead. When traditional computing is better, you need to know all the differences between Traditional and Headless CMS. These are some limitations when it comes to serverless architecture:

  • Debugging becomes more complicated, and testing gets more challenging since it is broken into microservices.

  • Vetting the security issues while running the back-end

  • Multitenancy can be problematic, especially when several businesses are working simultaneously.

  • When a code takes longer to run, it will cost higher.

  • The performance may slow up since the server needs to boot up every time it is called.

  • The reliance on the maintenance and back-end management on the vendor is comparatively more.

Serverless still has room for improvement

In everyday developers’ conversations about serverless, you’ll hear common complaints that serverless relatively lacks portability and has complicated debugging. Managing complex requests indeed needs to go through many transformations, and testing is complicated. Also, in situations where you need more control, serverless can get you in a position where you can’t tailor a platform to your needs. But, there must be no objections that serverless create a robust and intuitive environment for agile development. We love its capabilities of just taking care of the code without worrying about the infrastructure, running at scale, and lowest cost. In the end, with all its pros and cons, we believe serverless still has room to improve and mature. What do you think?