The Serverless architecture, or serverless computing is a software design pattern in which a third-party hosts the apps, removing the need for hardware management by a developer and server software. The apps are split into individual functionalities, which could be individually invoked and scaled.
Software architecture provides companies a way to manage services, as well as apps without handling the actual server architecture. While the name ‘serverless’ is there, it however doesn’t mean that servers are entirely out of the picture. Instead, serverless since you no longer need to manage infrastructure.
The responsibility instead falls on the cloud service providers. With managing server out of the way on their end, organizations could concentrate on developing a product and achieve their business aims and goals.
Short History of Hosted Services
Since the early days of computing, in which software ran on giant mainframe computers, software systems have tremendously evolved. With the coming of more personal, smaller computers, and networking technologies, often, the computing work was forked between centralized servers, which do the heavy lifting, as well as the so-called clients more focused on results presentation.
With the web in the picture, the division of labor is only magnified, up to a point wherein a server concept had become a computer whose job is serving up information on the web. As computers become more and more powerful, it became more likely that server tasks won’t need a dedicated computer to do them, which led to the next phase of evolution, and that is virtualization.
Virtualization, what is it All About?
Virtualization is the use of software for sharing resources of a computer among various independent operating systems, in essence, numerous servers in one. What constitutes the concept of a server has altered from hardware to software.
At the services phase evolution, you still need to perform server managed tasks. Although you may not be responsible for hardware concerns, such as network cards and hard drives, you nevertheless had to configure as well as maintain the OS and install, configure, and maintain all other software, including database and web server.
The Current Serverless State
Software development outsourcing today also make use of the serverless architecture to craft software solutions. In general, serverless today refers to an app or an API, which heavily relies on micro-services, with code hosted on FaaS or Function-as-a-Service platforms. FaaS platforms example include Microsoft Azure Functions, AWS Lambda, and Google Cloud Functions.
The AWS Lambda is a serverless computing platform of Amazon introduced in November 2014 and one of the earliest offerings of FaaS. It enables users to write functionalities in virtually any language, which could be invoked from most other services of AWS. Serverless apps for instance could be built with the API Gateway, for handling web requests, Aurora for database, and Lambda functions for business logic.
With the configuration, you pay only for the compute time used in handling a request, as well as database storage. Since functions are directly accessible and independent, services could be used by a lot of apps.
Serverless Architecture, the Pros
The Serverless architecture provides a lot of pros not just for end users but for software development outsourcing services as well. The advantage of the architecture could influence your workflow as well.
1. Augmented Scalability. With serverless architecture, you need not worry on the ability to scale with traffic volumes automatically. Also, scaling depends on the users’ location and their network connection. Providers or serverless app development services have points of presence around all users, diminishing delays, and enabling apps to do as they should, wherever the location may be.
2. Lesser Costs. With a serverless architecture, you only get to pay what you use, without costs on hardware and unused services. One of the main benefits of going serverless is reduced cost. If services are not heavily utilized most of the time, the ‘pay-as-you-go’ model provides optimal resource use without having to pay for idle server time.
3. More attention to User Experience. Users care about features, not the infrastructure. Companies could dedicate more effort and time to boost customer-facing elements without server maintenance to worry about. A quality UX design is paramount if you want to keep the users engaged with an app.
4. Lesser Worry. With a serverless architecture, you need not worry if the latest security was applied. Now that the servers are in hands of a third-party provider, you need not worry anymore on patches and fixing bugs.
Serverless Architecture, the Cons
Despite all the great things that the serverless architecture could bring, there are instances when traditional architecture comes on top. Some of the possible cons to going serverless include the following.
1. Unsuitable for long-term projects. Serverless is terrific for short-term processes, but for processes that need to run constantly, you could end up paying more for compute time, instead of paying for a reserved instance. Furthermore, a task like uploading big files of video would need additional functions.
2. Vendor Lock-in. The moment you give control to third-party service providers, you will no longer have control over the hardware, updates, and the run times. This could cause consistency issues, and limit available resources. Committing to a service provider means you’ll be in it for the long term.
If you create an application on a serverless architecture, and want to change to a different vendor, then switching is difficult. It’s very hard and you may have to re-engineer your app should you wish to do so.
3. Cold-start penalty. You get to pay only for what you utilize. However, if a function is not often used, you’d be charged with a penalty in a dramatic performance. Hosted functionalities could suffer from a cold-start penalty, and could be extremely slow for the first time that they are called for a while.
You can however attempt to lessen cold starts through keeping functions precise and small, as cold starts grow with memory and size of code. This helps keep functions warm.
4. Complex. In a serverless app, the function is steep. Serverless units of integration are much smaller than other architectures. This needs more time in organizing functions so they would work in line with data. Moreover, there could be issued in versioning and deployment.
To Sum Up
A serverless architecture overall is a new tech that we’d be seeing more in the not-so-far future. As more organizations look for innovative ways of maximizing cloud investments, they are looking into serverless computing.