The term “serverless” can be misleading. It does not mean a server does not exist. What it means is the user does not have to worry about the backend architecture or the server as it is the job of the service provider to manage it. This is primarily known as function-as-a-service, and it frees up employees from server administrative work and architecture-based tasks. The term serverless architecture and serverless computing is constantly used interchangeably.
By implementing this model, developers need not worry about the configuration, capacity management, maintenance, fault, support, and other such administrative work around servers. Because of this key benefit, we find many companies inclined to a serverless architecture.
Over the last few years, we have seen a considerable rise in the adoption and usage of serverless architecture. According to a survey by O’Reilly, who conducted the Serverless Survey in the year 2019, 40% of participants of the survey work in organizations that have already adopted serverless architecture in some capacity. The primary objective of this adoption is to bring about improvement in automatic scaling on a need basis and to bring about a significant reduction in operational costs.
A key factor that is driving the growth of serverless architecture is the adoption of rapid application development, and a growing requirement to completely eliminate server management. According to estimates by MarketsandMarkets’ analysis, the serverless marchitecture was valued at $7.6 billion in 2020 and by 2025, this market will reach a staggering $21.1 billion.
Key Benefits of Serverless Architecture
As indicated earlier, serverless architecture has gained popularity because it is an event-driven architecture with the sole objective of reducing costs. Here are the benefits of having a serverless architecture:
For any system, deployment is a very critical element. Serverless architecture can serve as a boon for application as a service. Using this architecture, users can deploy systems in hours and days instead of weeks or months in the old traditional framework. This makes the job of users even easier as they have to focus only on the code and front end of the application and have the ability to release the application immediately.
Having a serverless architecture can be far more cost benefits compared to having and maintaining physical servers. There are cloud providers that offer a pay-as-you-go model. This is a very lucrative option as users don’t have to pay for any unused virtual machines or servers. This architecture can be made even more cost-effective by providing an efficient bin-packing of machine resources, instead of providing an auto-scale mode.
Providers of serverless architecture, particularly the cloud vendors are responsible for meeting the capacity demand of the developers so that the developers don’t spend time tuning the auto-scale capacity. On the contrary, depending upon the traffic on the application, the instances on the server are added or removed automatically, thereby helping in maintaining the scalability aspect of the application.
While serverless architectures do bring about scalability, keeping in mind the concurrency limits, this architecture is primarily an event-driven system; thus making each sub-component of the application, independent. What this means is that in the event of a failure, it only impacts the particular sub-component.
Since the developers don’t need to focus on the maintenance and support at the server level, they only must focus on the deployment of the application and the code. This increases the productivity of the developer and helps in rapidly scaling up operations.
Top Vendors of Serverless Architecture
Most of the providers of cloud-based serverless architecture provide it as a FaaS (Function-as-a-Service). A point to be noted is that as an organization if you are already using vendors like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure, then it is advisable to continue with these vendors for your serverless requirement. However, we have provided a more streamlined list of vendors below:
Developed by Amazon, with its initial release in the year 2014, the focus of AWS Lambda is an event-driven, serverless computing platform and integration with AWS.
Microsoft Azure Functions
This is a product of Microsoft, which was initially released in the year 2016. The focus is similar to AWS Lambda, where it provides event-driven and serverless computing along with integration to Azure Services.
Google Cloud Functions
Google Cloud Functions was created by Google and was initially released in the year 2016. Similar to the other two vendors from Microsoft and Amazon, this solution also provides serverless computing. However, the differentiating factor is the integration aspect, as Google Cloud Functions provides GCP integrations.
IBM Cloud Functions
IBM released its serverless computing solution IBM Cloud Functions in the year 2016. This solution provides event-driven and serverless computing based on the open-source Apache OpenWhisk project.
Cloudflare was the recent entrant in this list by launching its solution Cloudflare Workers in the year 2018. Its focus is to provide a platform that can easily deploy code across the globe, instantly, through edge and performance computing.
With all these discussions around being serverless, the fundamental question still lingers on – why go serverless? Of course, we did touch base on the benefits of it being cost-effective, scalable, and easy to deploy, however, the fact is that lot of businesses now prefer this purely because of its effective pricing and scalability.
Even though there are limitations to serverless architecture, it is still a preferred model, and we will only see more and more organizations adopting this framework. This is beneficial to start-ups in particular, as they don’t have the time and resources to manage servers.