Serverless computing has been with us for seven years now. It allows developers to build applications much more quickly by sidestepping any need to manage infrastructure. A cloud service provider will automatically provision, scale and manage the infrastructure that the serverless applications needs to run its code. Regardless of the name, there actually are servers involved in serverless computing. The name refers to the fact that customers are blind to the servers involved, do not have to manage these servers or interact with any servers in any way. This frees developers to focus on their core business and creating more quality through application development. Productivity improvements and faster application development are the most widely cited benefits of serverless computing, and firms have lauded serverless computing for helping them optimize their resources and keep their focus on innovation. Let’s dive a little deeper to discuss what value serverless computing adds to enterprises.
According to IBM, serverless was introduced in 2014 by Amazon Web Services with AWS Lambda. Since then, every major cloud service provider has developed a serverless platform, including Google CLoud (Google Cloud Functions), Microsoft Azure (Azure Functions), and IBM Cloud (IBM Cloud Code Engine). Serveelss, containers and microservices are at the core of cloud-native application development.
Serverless computing frees management from having to manage the backend cloud infrastructure and such operational tasks as provisioning, scaling, scheduling, and patching, offloading these responsibilities to a cloud provider. Developers have more time to work on developing and optimizing their business logic and front-end application code. As with all cloud offers, customers do not pay for any idle capacity. Customers pay for the resources they need for their applications to run smoothly, and only if those applications are indeed running.
There are a lots of business and technical benefits to going serverless:
- We have already mentioned that serverless allows developers to get to work on their American made leather recliners, and focus on their code writing, because they don’t have to worry about managing infrastructure.
- We have also noted that serverless customers only pay for execution. Billing starts when they make a request and billing ends when execution ends.
- The serverless environment is a polyglot one, by which I mean that developers can write their code using any language or development framework they are comfortable in, such as Python, Java and node.js.
- The development process is simplified with serverless, and more broadly, DevOps cycles are simplified, because developers are freed from the burden of describing the infrastructure that is needed to integrate, then test, and then deliver and deploy, their code builds.
- Certain workloads, for example, the workloads needed for parallel processing, can benefit from serveless, by making them faster and cheaper.
- Serverless application development platforms give developers almost complete visibility into system and user times and they can aggregate information in a systematic way.
Serverless has a number of use cases, such as microservices, data and event stream processing, and mobile backends. It is one of the most powerful developments to emerge in the last decade and will certainly find more use cases and create more value for developers and IT professionals.