Last updated on January 25th, 2021
Until a decade ago, building and running applications without a server were unimaginable. However, it was always apparent that there were downsides to this dependency on servers.
To begin with, they bore expenses even if the server was not serving any requests. Secondly, the company had to spend on maintaining the server and manage security on its own. There were also scalability issues, i.e., companies could not easily scale down the server or scale it up depending upon the usage. Managing and maintaining the servers became difficult, especially for companies that had limited resources.
Problems need solutions and the search for solutions drives innovation. Serverless computing is an innovative response to the challenges organizations faced when tied to the hardware.
In serverless computing, a cloud service provider such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Azure allow companies to write and deploy code without worrying about the infrastructure. This code runs within a stateless container and is triggered during HTTP requests, alerts, file uploads, etc.
The attractions are obvious, In fact, according to Gartner, 20% of the world’s organizations are expected to become serverless by the end of 2020.
Let’s explore further to understand what’s behind the serverless trend.
Why Companies Prefer To Go Serverless?
Setting up a server and developing and running applications with it can be a time-consuming task. It gets even more challenging if the applications are complex and difficult to manage. To add to the woes, companies have to also set up a separate infrastructure team to maintain it. That’s why serverless computing is becoming a trend. It removes the need for maintaining any servers. Developers can easily run an application (even complex ones) directly using just code. It creates an agile environment for the developers to innovate and scale without worrying about the infrastructure.
2. Improves time-to-market
Soundcloud was able to reduce its standard release cycle from 65 days to just 16 days by using serverless microservices! Unlike monolithic applications where the developer must focus on the servers too, a serverless infrastructure ensures that the developer focuses only on writing code. They just have to write the appropriate code and use it everywhere. All this contributes to moving the development from the ideation to the production stage rapidly. In a fast-paced world, a company that meets the changing needs of the customer and that launches products faster than competitors is in pole position to be a market leader.
3. Reduces latency issues
One of the major issues with server infrastructure is latency. Considering that there is a distance between client devices making requests and the servers responding to them, it takes time for web pages. The page (and app) loads slowly. It takes forever for large files and images to get downloaded. That spoils the experience for the user. That’s where serverless computing comes to the rescue. As the application’s code can be run from anywhere, the company can run it on the servers that are close to the location of the end-user. This reduces the distance between the client device and the server. The request does not have to travel to the origin server, thus reducing the latency.
Typically, companies had to maintain a server, buy additional ones to meet the growing business needs, and meet overhead expenses of hiring teams to maintain it. This hit the CAPEX budgets of the company. Serverless computing has managed to reduce such unnecessary expenses. Also, companies have to only pay when the code is executed. So, if the code is not running, the company does not have to pay for it. The provider only charges for the number of executions and the size of the memory occupied. This enables companies to optimize their costs. Coca-cola, for example, switched the management of their vending machines and cut costs per machine from $13,000 to $4,500 after migrating to the serverless option.
5. Events-driven scaling
We share an endless amount of data every second. There is so much data that it is almost impossible for companies to store them in one server. Here’s when serverless architecture comes to the rescue. It is created as an event-driven solution, i.e. it executes the necessary code in response to an event. So, companies need not worry about scaling their solution. It can be scaled automatically depending upon demand or incoming action. It makes the products more scalable and reliable despite the increase or decrease in demand.
6. Strengthens security
Companies are understandably worried about the security of data in the absence of a server. However, as developers are constrained to develop code that works within the serverless context, they have to adhere to the strictest protocols and security rules laid down. Hence, the application code ends up being safe, compliant and designed to safeguard against data breaches.
It is already evident that serverless computing will be the future of application development. As we have seen, this mode enables companies to focus on innovating and growing their business instead of worrying about infrastructure, scalability, and security. However, here’s a word of caution. The changes needed to be made in the application aren’t trivial. This shift calls for significant re-architecting of the applications and making major changes to components such as databases. Going serverless is a step to be taken carefully and with full information about the pros and cons. The support and advice of a partner with the right portfolio of skills could be just the catalyst needed to enable you to make such a profound change.