Back in the pre-cloud days, developers had to think a lot about servers while creating apps. They had to do a lot of planning and budgeting to buy or lease, connect, power, and house these servers before setting them up in their data center or in a colocation facility.
Later the colocation facility began to handle a lot of things on their own, such as providing racks, power, Internet access, and other key resources. Still, a lot of hassles like provisioning, clustering, and server maintenance was already there. It required lots of money and effort.
But then came the concept of serverless and someone said:
“Focus on your application, not on the server.”
“Wow! What a relief”, a developer said to another.
Now, this conversation is been doing rounds since the advent of Serverless Architecture (which, thanks to AWS, is hyped with the conferences, meetups going on) which promises a developers’ relief, so, isn’t it enough to try out? And why not?
Serverless architecture is the powerhouse of software apps.
It promises your daylight hours free from implementing, maintaining, debugging, and testing the infrastructure. It will power your entire software application. While the developer is an abstract thing here, but does that mean there are no servers to handle? No! The servers are somewhere, but we are not managing them. Vendors manage them wholly. It is groundbreaking and disrupting the server infrastructure with its assurance of exceptional business implementations light on the budget.
Tim Wagner, the GM of Lambda, referred to the serverless architecture in the first keynote conference on serverless technologies in New York. Wagner said that with the serverless technology, Lambda is solving the world’s largest bin packing problem.
The Walk to Serverless
The path to serverless is not a cakewalk. It took time to reach here from traditional/ monolithic architecture paving its way to microservice architecture and landing to a serverless arena. Still, it won’t be wrong to say that serverless architecture is still in its infancy and would take long to transform into a complete serverless computing zone.
In the past few years, companies have been adopting microservice architecture partly as a rejection of traditional, tightly coupled monolithic systems and more of assurance of new and increased agility, resilience, scalability, and productivity. However again, the problem was that with its distributed, loosely coupled nature, it has its own set of challenges. For instance, complex error-handling, more infrastructure provisioning, and high management. So, the adoption of microservices, and running multiple servers with different environments turned out to be quite expensive. Moreover, in traditional practices of mobile and web applications, three-tier systems have been written with thick middle tiers composed of multiple layers. The layers separate the concerns of API, domain logic, data access, etc. This type of layering increases the level of complexity and is maddening. Also, in today’s age of single-page apps, these layers are replicated in the front-end tier of the application, which is time-consuming. Hence, adding a single feature would require every layer to be modified, along with entire testing and redeploying.
Serverless streamlined the complexities, which were arising from microservices with multiple servers and their constant need for provisioning, deploying containers, patching software, and testing. The use of serverless compute services allows developers to use single-purpose APIs and other web services to build apps that are loosely coupled, focusing mainly on code.
So, to define Serverless computing, we can say:
It is a cloud computing execution model in which the cloud vendor runs the server and dynamically manages the allocation of machine resources. Pricing is based on the actual amount of resources consumed by an application, rather than on pre-purchased units of capacity. It is a form of “utility computing”. – Wikipedia
So, serverless claims to:
- Be free from managing servers
- Support continuous scaling, load balancing, and automatic fail-over
- Use sub-second metering (pay-as-you-go)
But these are the technical terms that only a developer can understand. So how can serverless benefit your software apps? But before that, lets discuss its types.
Types for Serverless Architecture Software
Serverless architecture offers three primary services, which help in the development of software:
Function as a service (FaaS)
Function as a service is also known as framework-as-a-service. It is a ready-to-implement framework that can be customized depending on the needs of an enterprise. Also, it can be delivered as templates. It makes use of Containers for the rapid deployment of applications on every platform. For example, the containers can be stacked by developers for scaling or one container can be used for iOS and the other for desktop apps.
Companies purchase FaaS for third party vendors who are responsible for server management. They are charged according to the app runtime rather than the pre-allocated units. This feature entices consumers as the reduction of cost is drastic. For example, our team at Softobiz uses Azure functions for the Datium project in which we create multiple triggers (function as a service) like HTTP, Time trigger, etc.
Back-End as a Service (BaaS)
Back-end as a Service, also known as NoOps offering, which refers to an infrastructure automated to the point wherein the in-house developers have no role to play. Hence the name NoOps. Developers now have more time to focus on the front-end as back-end services will be managed by the vendors. BaaS vendors outsource their ready-to-use features, which can be used according to the need of the projects. For example, our backend team at Softobiz provides database management, remote updating, user authentication, and cloud storage and hosting for Datium insights and Pickles.
Database serverless frameworks
Database serverless frameworks allow access and automate the database functions for your organization. This framework will read and write from a database and provide a response. Multiple applications can be developed with this and thus, enterprises can go global.
Serverless computing is blissful for the dev team and why not, earlier they felt like on a trial. Kidding! But it was no less than a headache.
So, let’s look at what more blissful serverless is doing:
1. More innovative with less time to market.
No worries about renting, buying infrastructure, setting up or planning around it. The product development process is simplified now with the vendor coming in to take up the responsibilities of the infrastructure. Serverless will let you focus more on your app.
Also, a serverless container and mesh management can really make your infrastructure management more robust. Full serverless computation is the ultimate desire of the serverless world where the greatest benefits will be. This entails running your full application on an infrastructure that supports it without having to know how the underlying servers are set up.
2. Reduction in operation costs (pay-as-you-go method)
Who would be happy to get charged for the services not used? Till now, you have been paying for the infrastructure whether your server apps are running on it or are sitting ideal. With serverless, the performance of code changes drastically. The unit of scale is transitory and runs only when needed. This can affect the cost like, the more quick function will directly reduce the cost.
For instance, in AWS Lambda, just upload your code and lambda will run your code and scale it and all this is done with zero administration. You run your code with managing servers and will pay only for the compute time consumed.
3. Fixed costs become variable costs
With serverless, your costs vary on your usage. If today, you had 60 million requests and tomorrow no requests, you’d pay around $100 for today, and zero for tomorrow.
4. Less wastage
With microservice architecture, multiple features and multiple products are developed repeatedly, for instance, payment processing, client authentication, etc. This will indirectly also lead to a spike in the prices. But with serverless architecture, like AWS lambda, the team can develop product services as independent components. Now, these components can be reused, which will reduce the time and effort altogether reducing the waste.
5. Serverless increases product flexibility
Targeting the audience and the changing needs can be a painful task as refactoring or rewriting the apps can be energy-draining and time-consuming. Even a slight change in the tightly coupled apps will require rewriting of multilayers. Serverless architecture like AWS lambda recommends separate applications into small independent services.
You will be amazed by the increased stability which these newly separated services will give you.
6. Scale instantly
Serverless architecture promises scalability with independent services. With AWS Lambda, you can run short-duration operations of any size. It will be able to process hundreds of events or billions in just no time. Also deploying function as service architecture is easier than the whole server. Why?
Because serverless won’t require continuous integration, continuous delivery or a containerization tool. The code can be written directly into the vendor bucket.
Serverless is being used by tech giants like Netflix, Reuters, AOL, and Telenor. Industries are adopting it like hot burgers, but it won’t conquer every infrastructure for you. It will come up with its own limitations and we can have the best use cases where we can find it inappropriate according to the applications.
The success of any architecture or framework depends on many factors and not just solely on technology. Using the right framework according to the business requirements is very crucial for the enterprises. Softobiz has experience in developing enterprise apps using serverless architecture. So, we can help you choose what is exactly needed for your applications and become more productive.