By Will Hall, DevOps Consultant, HeleCloud
In this blog, I will provide an essential guide to Serverless Computing including the reasons why more and more enterprises are adopting is an architecture and the key AWS services you need to consider.
What is Serverless and what are its functions?
Serverless Computing is a native Cloud architecture where code execution is fully managed by a Cloud provider like Amazon Web Services (AWS). The Cloud provider takes full responsibility for loading and executing application codes, ensuring that sufficient resources are available to run the code optimally. This approach eliminates the need for developers to worry about system software and physical infrastructure and focuses their time on building the best possible application. Previously, a developer had to define how much storage capacity would be needed for pre-deployment, which is not only difficult to define but it meant time was spent worrying about issues that wouldn’t deliver innovation to the business. It also means that the business only pays for the resource used.
AWS ushered in Serverless Computing with the launch of its Lambda Cloud Service at the 2014 AWS re:Invent conference. Since then additional services have been launched helping developers overcome the challenges that can arise when tying a microservices-based architecture to a legacy, distributed systems infrastructure.
Function as a Service (FaaS)
When getting to grips with Serverless, it is also important to understand another term — Functions-as-a Service or ‘FaaS’. While Serverless and FaaS are sometimes used interchangeably, it is important to note here that they are not the same thing. FaaS means developers can break down their applications and execute without any context regarding the underlying server. The reason being, they are no longer managed by the developer as this responsibility falls on the Cloud provider. So FaaS essentially simplifies deploying applications to the Cloud.
FaaS allows a developer the ability to deploy software much easier as it concentrates on the services themselves as opposed to the server platform. Unlike serverless computing, FaaS provides the ability to skip the worry of server setup and configuration.
AWS provides a set of fully managed services that can be used to build and run serverless applications. One of the most commonly used services is AWS Lambda. AWS Lambda enables developers to build applications with increased agility and cost efficiency for those needing to process data, perform analytics or perform other services handled by Lambda. All a developer needs to do is upload their code and Lambda takes care of everything. By building serverless applications developers can focus on their core product instead of worrying about managing or operating runtimes. This means enterprises can reap the benefits of agility and reducing costs as AWS handles all the capabilities.
Other AWS serverless options include AWS Fargate, Amazon Aurora Serverless, and Amazon DynamoDB, to name a few. These solutions will enable developers to focus the majority of time on business logic and solving the problems unique to the service rather than generic operational problems.
Why enterprises are adopting Serverless?
Serverless lets developers focus on what they do best: write code. Businesses are harnessing this newfound agility to build, test and iterate on applications more quickly than their competitors and build new applications that benefit their customers.
Going Serverless is a great way to reduce costs as enterprises outsource the responsibilities for managing servers and databases. In addition, serverless takes less computing human resources and power. The days of spending hundreds of thousands for servers are gone.
Another big advantage of serverless is the scalability it enables, as upgrading and adding compute resources is no longer reliant on the DevOps team. Serverless applications can quickly, seamlessly, and automatically scale up to accommodate spikes in traffic; conversely, these applications also automatically scale down when there are fewer concurrent users.
Serverless computing has very real business benefits — reduced operating costs and enhanced innovation among them. It also allows developers to focus on building scalable, reliable systems more quickly and easily than they could using server-based architectures. The ability to improve agility and reduce time to market delivers true business value. Serverless computing gives enterprises the ability to rapidly prototype and trial new products or services, then pivot easily based on market response.