TechDogs-"A Dummy’s Guide To Serverless Computing"


A Dummy’s Guide To Serverless Computing

By TechDogs

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We love ordering takeout meals. Thanks to the dozens of food-ordering apps out there, our lazy Sundays have gotten lazier! Think of this: instead of going to the store, buying the required ingredients, cooking a delicious meal and then cleaning up the dishes (ugh!), you can simply place an order online. You can sit back and binge on your favorite TV show till your ready-to-eat meal arrives. You don’t need to drive to a restaurant or spend time stirring the saucepan – a perfect “kitchen-less” meal! #HungryYet

Well, Serverless Computing is similar to ordering takeout – for developers. They can deploy applications without actively participating in the backend tasks such as provisioning, managing or monitoring the servers. Instead, a cloud provider takes care of all that hard work (just like the cooking, packaging and food delivery are handled by a third party) to ensure that the deployment is up and running without any hassle. A perfect “serverless” server approach!

If that sounds confusing, hop on and get a taste of Serverless Computing!
TechDogs-"A Dummy’s Guide To Serverless Computing"-"Get a Taste Of Serverless"
When you order food online, do you worry about the route the delivery agent will take or whether the restaurant will send chopsticks with the ramen? Of course, you don’t!

The idea behind online food delivery is that you let the experts handle everything from meal preparation and cooking to delivery and logistics. Similarly, developers can rely on Serverless Computing to outsource the time-intensive aspect of their work to a team of experts – a cloud service provider.

The cloud service provider offers servers with automated scaling, built-in high availability and a pay-for-use billing model, so the developers can focus on doing what they do best –developing applications. This system increases the agility of the DevOps cycle, optimizes costs and creates a convenient development environment.

It is important to remember that "Serverless Computing" is a misnomer as servers are managed by the cloud service provider to execute code that developers write. Yet, as the developers are not concerned with the capacity planning, configuration, management, maintenance or scaling of servers – the system is “serverless” on their end. 

Sounds interesting? Let’s learn more! 


First Of All, What Is Serverless Computing?

Serverless Computing is a type of cloud computing application that enables developers to build and run application code without handling the provisioning, management or maintenance of servers or backend infrastructure. This enables developers to focus on front-end tasks such as writing code, application testing and optimizing the business logic. Everything else is managed by the cloud service provider!

The developers essentially hand over the server to a third party (cloud provider) who provisions and manages the cloud infrastructure, scales up and down on demand, manages the maintenance, system updates/ patches, security management, capacity planning, etc. So, the development team works in a “serverless” environment as the servers are not under their purview.

This innovation is quickly gaining ground in the IT industry – yet that wasn’t the case a few years ago. Let’s see how Serverless Computing evolved over time!

Evolution And Origins Of Serverless Computing

The core idea behind Serverless Computing is to outsource the management, maintenance and supervision of servers. This was made possible thanks to various innovations in servers and software deployment cycles. Here’s a brief look at the evolution:
  • Earlier, systems administrators would manage and maintain physical servers for software deployment which included installing the operating system, device drivers, updates, etc. on a device with sufficient memory, disk space and processing power. This was known as a "bare metal" environment.

  • The next type of server deployment to emerge was the virtual machine, allowing developers to use a simulated server rather than hardware. This provided flexibility in updates, deployments and migrations, making software development life cycles (SDLCs) more repeatable and adaptable.

  • Containerized deployment followed virtual machines with developments in containerization technologies such as Docker, OpenVZ, LXC and Solaris jails. These technologies enabled developers to create a separate section for the server operating system and run different applications on the same system without interference.

  • In 2008, Google App Engine was introduced as the first serverless computing offering, though Python was the only supported language.

  • In 2014, Amazon introduced AWS Lambda, which popularized the serverless computing model. It supported additional AWS serverless tools such as AWS Serverless Application Model (AWS SAM) and Amazon CloudWatch.

  • Then, in 2016, Google Cloud Platform launched a second serverless product called Google Cloud Functions.

  • Recently, Serverless Computing has been adopted by several businesses. The pay-for-what-you-use billing model was a major deciding factor for businesses involved in developing and implementing applications.

If you’re wondering whether it’s safe to outsource one’s server to a third party and how the arrangement works, read on!

How Does Serverless Computing Work?

TechDogs-"How Does Serverless Computing Work?"-"A GIF Showing A Confused John Travolta"
In a nutshell, Serverless Computing is an architecture where a cloud vendor provides backend services to the development team on-demand. The serverless cloud provider allows developers to code and deploy applications on the cloud without worrying about the underlying infrastructure. Moreover, the developers are billed based on the amount of computation and storage they use. Hence, businesses do not need to pay a fixed amount for a specific amount of bandwidth, compute or storage. As the computing service auto-scales, developers receive a bill only for the resources they have consumed.

Previously, developers had to own the physical hardware or server to design and deploy a web application. This was time-consuming, costly and required technically experienced operators. As a result, Serverless Computing can be thought of as Backend as a Service (or BaaS), in which developers concentrate on the frontend development and the backend features are hosted and controlled in the cloud by a third-party provider.

Function as a Service (FaaS) is another popular Serverless Computing architecture where developers deploy their programs as a set of discrete functions, each performing a specified task. When triggered, the serverless cloud provider executes each function on an existing server or by spinning up a new server. This ensures scalability and always-available bandwidth for developers.
Yet these are not the only benefits of Serverless Computing.

Benefits Of Serverless Computing

TechDogs-"Benefits Of Serverless Computing"-"A Funny GIF With A Monkey And A Laptop"
It should come as no surprise that Serverless Computing provides numerous advantages to developers and enterprise development teams. Here are some of the primary benefits of serverless computing:
  • Enhanced Developer Productivity

    Serverless Computing frees up the development teams to concentrate on writing code and other productive front-end tasks rather than managing and maintaining the cloud infrastructure. This allows developers to spend more time innovating and optimizing the front-end features and business logic.

  • Pay For What You Use

    The cloud service provider controls resource utilization so the clients never pay for unused capacity. The cloud provider can scale computing resources up or down on demand. As the billing begins and ends with execution, the pricing is based on execution time and resources used.

  • Support For Multiple Programming Languages

    Serverless Computing allows developers to code in any programming language of their choice, including Java, Python, JavaScript and node.js. Naturally, when developers code in languages they are familiar with, productivity and efficiency increase.

  • Streamlined DevOps Cycles

    Serverless Computing streamlines deployment and DevOps practices as developers do not spend time defining the infrastructure required to integrate, test, deliver and deploy the code into production. The cloud service provider takes care of all the finer details.

  • Improved Usage Visibility

    Serverless Computing enables complete visibility into the cloud system, infrastructure, user behavior, etc. When this data is aggregated and analyzed, it provides accurate utilization insights.

We bet you’re thinking about opting for a serverless computing system now. Well, here’s a few facts about the future of Serverless Computing that you need to know!

What’s The Future Of Serverless Computing?

Technavio forecasts a 26% annual growth rate for the Serverless Computing industry between 2019 and 2023. Although software behemoths such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google are leading the way, smaller businesses are gaining a foothold in the market. This has resulted in the Serverless Computing market rising by more than 30% every year since 2016!

This trend is projected to continue in future years as the cloud replaces traditional legacy systems. Furthermore, businesses seeking to go green will embrace Serverless Computing. The model's pay-for-use billing will ensure that businesses do not squander excessive amounts of electricity on idle servers and computation. Furthermore, they will be more effective as server bandwidth is not underutilized and the demand can be scaled up/ down without incurring additional costs.

Yes, Serverless Computing is the future of easy and convenient software development!

In The End

Serverless Computing has evolved as a new paradigm in software deployment and server management. It enables enterprises to adopt cloud technologies to easily manage servers while also saving money, streamlining operations and scaling computing on demand. As developers do not need to worry about the server bandwidth, maintenance or scaling, Serverless Computing provides a much more flexible, cost-effective and efficient way to host applications.

TechDogs-"In The End"-"A GIF Saying "Delete Server"
Just remember, although we use the phrase "serverless," it just means developers don’t have to worry about servers!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Serverless Computing? 

Serverless Computing is a cloud computing model that allows developers to build and run applications without the need to manage servers or backend infrastructure. In this model, developers focus solely on writing code, testing applications, and optimizing business logic, while the cloud service provider handles tasks such as provisioning, scaling, maintenance, and security of servers. Despite its name, servers are still utilized, but developers are relieved from the burden of server management, enabling them to work in a "serverless" environment. 

What Are The Origins Of....? 

The concept of Serverless Computing emerged as a solution to simplify server management and streamline software deployment cycles. It evolved from traditional server management methods, including "bare metal" environments and virtual machines, to containerized deployment technologies such as Docker. The introduction of serverless offerings by major cloud providers like Google App Engine and AWS Lambda in 2008 and 2014 respectively, marked significant milestones in the evolution of Serverless Computing. This model gained popularity due to its pay-for-use billing model and the benefits it offers to businesses in terms of flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. 

How Does Serverless Computing Work? 

Serverless Computing operates on the principle of outsourcing backend services to a cloud provider, allowing developers to focus on frontend development tasks. Developers deploy applications on the cloud without managing underlying infrastructure, and are billed based on resource consumption. Function as a Service (FaaS) is a popular architecture within Serverless Computing, where developers deploy discrete functions that execute specific tasks triggered by events. This approach ensures scalability and optimal resource utilization. Serverless Computing streamlines development workflows, eliminates the need for infrastructure management, and provides a cost-effective solution for hosting applications.

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