What is Serverless Computing?
Serverless computing is a type of cloud computing service that provides developers with backend services for which they pay based on the resources they actually use. It offers a cost-effective model and a few other important perks that can simplify and accelerate software development projects.
Read on to find out more about what is serverless computing and discover its main benefits.
What is Serverless Computing – Explained
Despite the name, serverless computing uses physical servers to provide storage, database, and other backend services. Backend services refer to the part of the application that a user doesn’t see, including the business logic, app files, and user data.
That said, the service provider sets up and manages the server infrastructure and space, so you don’t have to worry about servers at all.
With serverless computing, you pay following a pay-as-you-go pricing model. In practical terms, this means that you only pay for the services you use rather than a specific number of servers or a fixed bandwidth.
At first glance, serverless computing may seem similar to Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) cloud service models. However, it tends to be more scalable than PaaS and have a faster startup.
It also differs from Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) in that it doesn’t confine data to the data center, taking advantage of edge computing to improve performance and reduce operating costs. Serverless computing is also event-driven, which BaaS may not be.
What is Serverless Computing – Benefits
Serverless computing evolved as a cost-effective and hassle-free alternative to other cloud computing service models. Here are some of the key advantages that serverless computing brings.
- Lower costs – Serverless computing can be more affordable than both setting up your own physical servers and renting server space or a set number of servers over the cloud. That’s because you only pay for the actual services you use. It helps you avoid costs related to idle CPU time, unused space, or unwanted spikes in server activity.
- Helps you focus on what matters – Because the service provider manages the server infrastructure and ensures it is available, you can focus all your energy on the development work. You don’t have to worry about maintaining the hardware, updating the server software, or adding more servers to access more resources.
- Easy scaling – You can access more computing resources as needed through a seamless auto-scaling process. Basically, when you need more resources, the vendor can provide them on an on-demand basis. Easy scaling makes serverless computing attractive for development projects that have a great potential for growth.
- Reduced time to market – With serverless computing, you can add and modify code one step at a time to simplify the software deployment process. In many cases, this can accelerate turnaround time.
- Function-as-a-Service (FaaS) – FaaS platforms enable you to build modular architecture and execute simple functions using edge computing. It can simplify backend code.
What is Serverless Computing – Limitations
Serverless computing brings a lot to the table and can be a cost-effective solution for businesses of all sizes. However, when choosing a provider, it’s important to consider a few things.
Vendor lock-in can be a problem with serverless computing in that you may have to rewrite code and lose APIs if you decide to move to another vendor later on. Migrating from one serverless computing provider to another can be time-consuming and costly.
Some serverless providers also suffer from cold starts, which occur when a provider shuts down a function not called later, and then another user calls that function, which takes longer to start, increasing latency. Some serverless platforms have found workarounds to this problem, limiting or even eliminating cold starts.
Security and debugging challenges are two other things to consider when comparing serverless providers.
In the end, serverless computing has a lot going for it. It can help you tap into much-needed cloud computing resources at a better cost and faster than other cloud computing backend service models. So long as you keep its limitations in mind and try to make provisions for them, it can help you achieve your development goals and grow your product.
What is Serverless Computing – Additional Resources
- Google Cloud – Our serverless computing automatically scales your services up or down, even to zero, depending on traffic, and you pay only for what you use.
- Amazon AWS – AWS offers technologies for running code, managing data, and integrating applications, all without managing servers.
- Microsoft Azure – A server-less approach offers developers, teams, and organisations a level of abstraction that enables them to minimise the time and resources invested in infrastructure management.