Serverless architecture is an approach to building and running applications and services without having to manage the underlying server infrastructure. In this article, we discuss serverless architecture and its benefits, and take a look at the top serverless providers.
Read more: What Is a Server and What Do Servers Do?
What Is Serverless Architecture?
First of all, the term “serverless” is misleading — this is a managed service where a provider handles server infrastructure. Serverless architecture, or serverless computing, is a cloud computing execution model where the cloud provider allocates machine resources and takes care of servers based on customers’ demands. Also known as function-as-a-service (FaaS), serverless frees up administrators from architecture-related responsibilities.
First of all, the term “serverless” is misleading — this is a managed service where a provider handles server infrastructure.
With this model, developers do not need to be concerned with maintenance, configuration, capacity planning, fault tolerance, scaling of containers, physical servers and virtual machines, and so on. Because of this, many startups are especially interested in adopting serverless architectures.
There’s been a significant increase in serverless adoption in recent years. According to the O’Reilly Serverless Survey from 2019, 40% of respondents work at organizations that have adopted serverless architecture in some form or another to reduce operational costs and improve automatic scaling.
The global market growth of serverless architecture is driven by rapid application development, and a rising need to eliminate server management. According to MarketsandMarkets’ analysis, the market for serverless was valued at $7.6B in 2020, and is projected to reach $21.1B by 2025.
Read more on Developer.com: What Is Serverless Computing?
What Are the Benefits of Serverless?
Serverless architecture became popular primarily for event-based architecture, reducing operational costs, and reducing the time to deploy, set up, and operate. The benefits of serverless architecture are explained briefly below.
Easy to Deploy
Deployment is an important factor for any system. Serverless architecture could be perfect for an application or service, as users can deploy it within hours or days compared to weeks or months. This allows users to focus on the code and release an application or service immediately.
Serverless architecture can be more cost-effective than maintaining a fixed quantity of servers. Cloud providers charge on a pay-as-you-go model, so users do not need to pay for unused virtual machines or servers. Serverless architecture can be even more cost-effective than provisioning an auto-scaling group through more efficient bin-packing of the machine resources.
Cloud providers are responsible for scaling capacity on-demand, so the developers do not spend time setting up and tuning auto-scaling. Instead, the function instances of serverless computing are created or removed automatically in response to traffic variations within the boundaries of concurrency limits.
Serverless environments use an event-based system, so each of the subparts of the applications is independent. If any error or failure occurs, it only impacts that event. For example, each AWS Lambda function is completely isolated; if one of the features is turned off, it does not impact other features — so it doesn’t cause the entire server to crash.
The developers who use serverless architecture can simply deploy their code without being concerned with maintenance and planning issues that come with servers. Surveys show this helps accelerate product delivery cycles and rapidly scale operations.
Who Are the Top Serverless Vendors?
Most of the popular cloud providers offer serverless architecture as FaaS. As such, if your business is already using a vendor like AWS or Azure for other services, it’s likely in your best interest to consider using that vendor for serverless. Some of the most popular serverless vendors are given below.
1. AWS Lambda
- Developer: Amazon
- Initial release: 2014
- Focus: Event-driven, serverless computing platform, AWS service integration
- Developer: Microsoft
- Initial release: 2016
- Focus: Event-driven, serverless computing platform, Azure service integration
- Developer: Google
- Initial release: 2016
- Focus: Event-driven, serverless computing platform, GCP service integration
- Developer: IBM
- Initial release: 2016
- Focus: Event-driven, serverless computing platform, based on the open-source Apache OpenWhisk project
- Developer: Cloudflare
- Initial release: 2018
- Focus: Platform to deploy code instantly worldwide, edge and performance computing
Read more on TechRepublic: AWS Lambda: A Cheat Sheet
Why Go Serverless?
Event-based architecture, low costs, and easy deployment make serverless architecture highly popular. Moreover, FaaS products are offered by well-known vendors like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and others. Although serverless architecture has some limitations, its scalability and pricing make it a good fit for startups and other organizations that don’t have the time or resources to maintain servers.