Serverless architecture: A trend for the cloud to keep an eye on
Cloud services are always changing and evolving. In 2014, Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched AWS Lambda, the first competitive commercial “serverless” service. Amazon’s competitors, including Microsoft, Google and IBM, didn’t wait too long to strike back, with the different companies trying to one-up one another.
While Amazon got a head start, the race is far from over. This emerging market will continue to evolve and gain momentum in the next few years as the technology matures. But what is “serverless” architecture? And what are some of the pros and cons of these services? Today on the blog, we’re looking at an emerging technology to keep an eye on.
What is “serverless” architecture?
First, we should note that “serverless” doesn’t mean “no server.” Instead, “serverless” refers to an event-based architecture that’s combined to adaptive cloud services that can be deployed (or not) depending on whether or not they’re needed. In other words, these cloud services don’t exist on a specific server, but can be scaled up (or down) according to need, using more (or less) resources depending on traffic.
Traditionally, with the cloud, companies pay a fixed price every month to ensure that a website or web application is functioning properly, regardless of traffic. A serverless architecture solves this problem by allowing companies to pay only for the services and resources that were really used according to traffic, allowing savings during downtimes.
Serverless architecture is therefore an architecture in which a server or a VM will never appear on a schematic. By dividing the code of a serverless architecture in several smaller modules that accomplish precise tasks, developers can execute autonomous and isolated functions in real time according to demand and need. This type of architecture could therefore be viewed as an extension of microservices.
Cloud service provides are always looking for new ways to optimize usage of their systems. A serverless architecture is therefore very advantageous for them since it allows developers to execute tasks in real time without having to worry about what server will execute which tasks. In other words, a serverless architecture handles the allocation of resources entirely on its own, in real time, which eliminates some tasks related to system administration. Moreover, this type of architecture is highly compatible with Agile methods, allowing developers to focus on coding and to deliver faster.
Of course, the biggest advantage is at the level of costs. Many observers believe that serverless architecture will allow a reduction of cloud-related costs in the years to come. That being said, applications will have to take full advantage of this type of architecture.
If you’re looking for ultra-fast performance, a virtual server will probably be more useful to you than a serverless architecture, which can increase latency. Moreover, debugging and other functionalities are still tricky to manage since applications don’t exist on a specific server. That being said, serverless architecture is still an emerging technology, which means we’re likely to see improvements at every level in the next few years, possibly solving some of these issues.
Serverless architecture is not an ideal solution for every project. However, investing some resources in a pilot project that explores this technology is probably a very good idea. At the moment, Amazon’s AWS Lambda and Microsoft’s Azure Functions seem to be the most complete solutions on the market.
Both services allow developers to execute functions in response to an event, a structure that seems promising for the Internet of Things (IoT) in particular, as a serverless architecture could allow objects from a previous generation to connect to the cloud without necessity a software update.
Are you familiar with serverless architecture? What you do you think of it? Let us know in the comments!