Many organizations are already attaining privileges from running applications in the public cloud, privileges which include cost savings from pay-as-you-go billing to enhanced agility through the use of on-demand IT resources. Several studies across industries and application performances have proved that migrating application architectures to the cloud lowers the total cost of ownership and advances time to market. Relative to private and on-premise cloud solutions, the public cloud makes it remarkably easier to develop, deploy, and maintain servers as well as the applications that operate on them. Although utilizing the different cloud service models eliminates the necessity for enterprises to buy and maintain their hardware, any server-based architecture, however, requires architecture for reliability and scalability. Nevertheless, enterprises face challenges of deploying and updating to these servers as their applications evolve. Therefore, they will have to scale their server to account for peak load and then strive to scale them down when and where required to lower costs—all while consistently maintaining the user experience and the integrity of internal systems.
This ever changing demands for the cloud and the unavailability of skilled resources to monitor containers or compute infrastructure has led to leveraging serverless architecture. By implementing a serverless cloud architecture, enterprises can re-imagine their offerings instantaneously, from the initial approach to production. Serverless, contrary to the term, does not indicate that there are no servers implemented. It mainly consists of arbitrary units of computing that are deployed without having to map them to any hardware. The serverless cloud architecture is applications created using custom code (functions) that operate on a Functions as a Service (FaaS) platform and typically orchestrated by events. For web application developers and programmers, serverless infrastructure provides them an opportunity to stop worrying about containers or servers and alternatively concentrate on their core jobs of development.
Introduction to Serverless Cloud Computing
As already mentioned, serverless cloud computing is an evolutionary technology that allows the developer to build and run code without bothering about servers. In this type of implementation, there is absolutely no need to own any kind of infrastructure. Thus, in the serverless architectures, a significant portion of the app runs in stateless containers provided by the cloud service providers. These containers are only triggered during an event and soon terminated after execution. Hence, this type of cloud computing is generally known as Function as a Service (FaaS). As we had mentioned earlier, these serverless applications are architected such that developers can concentrate on their core competency—addressing the fundamental business logic. An asynchronous, event-based approach to app design is particularly common in serverless applications, because it dovetails perfectly with the concept of code that runs only when it is called. A serverless application operates in the public cloud which only handles the receiving events or client invocations when only the code is run.
How An Enterprise Benefits by Leveraging Serverless Cloud Computing Architecture?
Competitive advantage in today’s business landscape is determined by the quality of customer interaction and service, customized products and services and effectiveness of internal business processes. All of these are driven by technology with architectural design and deployment of software being at the core. The separation of the application functionalities from the supporting infrastructure provides the greatest opportunity for enterprises for application modernization and removes all development constraints posed by legacy infrastructure. In fact, serverless architecture has proven to be the exit strategy for enterprises from their legacy IT footprint.
Serverless cloud computing architecture can be leveraged by enterprises that employ big data, in map-reduce problems, stock trade analysis, high speed video transcoding, and compute-intensive simulations for loan applications. Recent studies have shown that it’s much easier to parallelize with a serverless approach, especially when triggered through events, therefore applying serverless techniques to a wide range of big data problems without the necessity for infrastructure support.
Customized processing and low latency for web applications and assets are seamlessly delivered through content delivery networks. By moving serverless event handling to the edge of the internet, developers can take advantage of lower latency, and the ability to customize retrievals and content fetches are done easier. This enables a new spectrum of use cases that are latency-optimized based on the client’s location.
It enables serverless capabilities to run inside enterprises and residential buildings, through connected devices, and hand-held Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Serverless solutions such as AWS Lambda functions offer a natural abstraction from the underlying physical (and even virtual) hardware, enabling them to more seamlessly transition from the data center to the edge, as well as from one hardware architecture to another, without interrupting the programming model.
It enables custom logic and data supervision in on-premises appliances such as AWS Snowball Edge. Most on-premises appliances such as healthcare devices and industrial machinery decouple business logic from the details of the execution environment, therefore serverless applications make it easier for them to function in a wide variety of environments.
Evaluating a Cloud Vendor’s Serverless Platform
When architecting a serverless application, companies and organizations need to consider more than the serverless compute functionality that executes the app’s code. Complete serverless applications require a broad array of services, tools, and capabilities spanning from storage and messaging to diagnostics and more. A vague or incomplete serverless portfolio from a cloud vendor can cause complications for serverless developers, who might have to return to server-based architectures if they can’t successfully code at a consistent level of abstraction. The serverless platform comprises a set of services that together build a serverless application, such as compute and storage components and tools required to author, build, deploy, and diagnose serverless apps. A serverless application under development requires a flexible and reliable platform that is capable of addressing the requirements of small startups to global, world-wide corporations. The platform must scale all of an application’s elements and provide end-to-end reliability. Just as with conventional applications, assisting developers succeed in developing and delivering serverless solutions is a multidimensional challenge.
Designing the appropriate technology architecture, aligned to the business requirements is the foundation for capitalizing on the innovations to drive competitive advantage in business. With the proper architectural considerations and due diligence, serverless may present industry leaders with an exit strategy to move from legacy infrastructure to adopt cloud service models that are perfect for their business. Serverless has the potential to change the economic model of IT consumption of enterprises leading to significant cost reductions associated primarily with IT support and maintenance, and reduced time-to-market. It can also assist in fostering innovation to support changing business requirements and provide a potential edge over competitors.
Ricky Philip is an industry expert and a professional writer working at ThinkPalm Technologies, a software services company focusing on technologies like BigData, AI, Telecom, and IoT services. He is also a contributor to several prominent online publishing platforms such as Medium.com and HubSpot.