An app’s user experience is largely dependent on two major factors — User Interface (UI) and App Performance. While UI design is commanded by app designers, the app’s performance relies heavily on the hosted server. Traditionally, installing and maintaining the server infrastructure was the responsibility of the companies using it.
But, the emergence of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) architecture transformed the way traditional methods worked. Cloud service providers started building the servers on behalf of the companies and started giving access through the internet.
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Yet, it was only half work done. To provision, scale and manage these cloud servers, companies still had to invest a substantial amount of time, money and resources.
However, in the quest to eliminate this overhead and build an easy platform to manage servers, Amazon Web Services, in 2014, released a groundbreaking service — AWS Lambda. Dramatically revolutionizing the way servers were managed, it introduced a serverless architecture of deploying web, mobile or IoT applications.
What is Serverless Architecture?
Firstly, it is crucial to understand that the term “Serverless” is a misnomer. On contrary to what it sounds, it doesn’t negate the existence of server in its architecture.
It only takes away the responsibility of managing the servers from the developer’s to-do list. The operational task of managing the servers is handled by the service provider, instead. Allowing the developers to focus on writing and deploying the code without demanding their involvement in managing the underlying servers.
Why Adapt this Architecture in Your App Development Process?
Serverless architecture, also known as Function as a Service (FaaS) cloud computing model, can be explained as a plug-n-play application platform. You simply need to plug (upload) your production-ready code directly into an already running server without manually configuring and managing it.
The uploaded code is divided into smaller functions and stored in containers. When an incoming request is triggered these containers play (evoke) the function and respond to the request instantly.
Apart from accelerating the deployment process, there are plenty of reasons which guarantees that going serverless is an excellent move for your app development process. Let’s understand them below.
1. Zero Server Administration
Server administrators invest a significant amount of their time in keeping an eye on server activities such as ensuring the availability of resources, auditing server security and keeping a check on server loads. To top it all, the administration process is a 24*7 task, i.e., you have to monitor your servers round the clock, without any fail.
One of the major benefit serverless architecture provides is no server administration. The service provider ensures that your servers are running flawlessly with high-availability at all times. Developers need not invest their energies in managing the backend processes of the application. In place, they can wholly focus on the app’s design and experience, leaving the backend responsibility on the service providers.
2. On-demand Scaling
While using dedicated servers, you have to equip servers to manage heavy loads by scaling resources constantly, beforehand. However, in serverless architecture, you can scale your server resources on demand. If your app experiences a massive surge in the users, the server stages the resources to handle the numbers, automatically. A serverless application can handle a single request and multiple requests equally well without any latency.
Unlike, dedicated servers, the serverless application works on-demand. The resources are allocated and scaled at the run time without having to provision the servers in advance.
3. High Availability & Fault Tolerance
A huge challenge faced while using dedicated servers was to ensure the servers are up and running even when a component fails to respond. Serverless architecture handles such failures without affecting the performance. It evenly distributes redundant server nodes throughout a region also called Availability Zones (AZ).
These nodes ensure continuous availability of the server. Also, these nodes are isolated from each other, providing an exceptional level of fault tolerance. The ubiquity of the nodes reduces the latency to minimum and server availability to the maximum.
4. Low Deployment & Management Cost
Cloud-hosted server reduces the infrastructure cost substantially. However, you still have to pay a fixed price for the servers, even if the applications are not using server resources. On the other hand, serverless architecture smartly plans the utilization of the resources and saves running cost in two ways.
Firstly, you don’t have to employ additional staff to monitor servers. The server management is outsourced to the service providers which cust down the staff cost.
Secondly, you only have to pay for the time your code runs on the server, eliminating any extra cost.
For instance, you have an e-commerce app which experiences a rise in usage during the weekends. If the number of requests hitting the server on weekdays is 100. While on the weekend, the request soars to 1000. You will have to pay only for 1100 requests in a week, in contrary to a fixed price of the entire server.
5. Focus on App Experience
Many studies cite that, developers spend 30–40% time in resolving the infrastructure or backend issues. However, above-mentioned serverless benefits clearly suggest that developers are no longer involved in the backend process. Thus, it saves a considerable amount of the developer’s time and effort.
Also, the freedom to disconnect from server administration gives app developers a lot of mind space to focus on app development. Allowing them to allocate their time and energy in building a rich app experience.