Serverless Computing. What Is Serverless and Why Use It?
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Serverless Computing. What Is Serverless and Why Use It?

Aleksander Jess
Senior Content Marketer & Technical Expert

Serverless computing is a cloud computing model in which the cloud provider runs the server, and the customer pays only for the resources used. There is no need to provision or manage any servers by the user, however. This type of computing is cost-effective, and it is becoming increasingly popular as more and more businesses move to the cloud.

What is Serverless Computing?

A meme about serverless.

In a serverless model, the cloud provider is responsible for provisioning and managing the servers that are required to run the customer's application. The customer is only responsible for paying for the resources that they use. The customer does not need to pay for any idle time (usually, though sometimes we might have to pay for the ‘auto pauses’) or for any resources that are not being used. Additionally, it is very scalable, as the cloud provider can quickly provision new servers as needed.

Serverless computing is a great option for companies who have unpredictable traffic (or potential unexpected traffic spikes; think Black Friday or Singles’ Day) or varying number of customers. Another great use case is when we are building an MVP.

The Benefits of Serverless Computing

Serverless computing has many benefits over traditional server-based computing. First, it is much more cost-effective. The customer only pays for the resources that they use, and there is no need to pay for any idle time or for any resources that are not being used. Additionally, serverless computing is very scalable. The cloud provider can quickly provision new servers as needed, and the customer only pays for the resources that they use. Additionally, serverless computing is very reliable. The cloud provider is responsible for managing the servers, and the customer does not need to worry about any maintenance or management tasks. Finally, serverless computing is very flexible. The customer can choose any programming language or framework that they want, and they are not limited by the capabilities of the server.

Serverless computing is a great option for many different types of applications. It is especially well-suited for applications that are not heavily used all the time, but that need to be able to handle spikes in traffic. Additionally, serverless computing is a good option for applications that are not well-suited to traditional server-based computing, such as applications that require a lot of flexibility or that need to be able to scale very quickly.

The Drawbacks of Serverless Computing

There are some drawbacks to serverless computing. First, it can be more difficult to debug applications, as the customer does not have access to the server logs out of the gate. You may access them, e.g., via Azure Application Insights. Additionally, the customer is limited by the capabilities of the cloud provider. If the cloud provider does not support a particular programming language or framework, the customer will not be able to use it. Finally, serverless computing can be more expensive than traditional server-based computing if the customer's application is heavily used. Automatic scaling, that is the biggest advantage of the approach, could be also the biggest drawback. If you are not careful enough, that is. To not make that mistake, projects need a dedicated FinOps specialist.

The big issue is harder testing. When it comes to the serverless architecture, it’s challenging to properly test everything. The difficulty lies in the extreme fragmentation.

If you want to migrate your app to the serverless provider, you most likely will have to modify your app. That is because you will no longer be able to request any resources from the server. You will have to deploy, e.g., AWS Lambdas to substitute what you previously needed.

The Future of Serverless Computing

Serverless computing is becoming increasingly popular as more businesses move to the cloud. The approach is likely to continue to grow in popularity even more. With it, new tools and services are likely to be developed to make debugging and other tasks easier. Serverless computing is likely to become the norm for many businesses, and could even replace traditional server-based computing for some.

How to Get Started with Serverless Computing

There are a few things that you need to do in order to get started with serverless computing. First, you need to choose a cloud provider. There are many different cloud providers available, and you need to choose one that supports the programming language or framework that you want to use. Additionally, you need to create an account with the cloud provider. Once you have done this, you can create a new serverless application. Finally, you need to deploy your application. You can do this using the cloud provider's console or using the command line.

When you are creating your serverless application, you need to specify the functions that you want to run. You can do this using code or using a configuration file. Once you have done this, you need to specify the events that will trigger your functions. For example, you might want your function to be triggered when a new file is uploaded to a certain bucket.  

Once your application is deployed, you can start using it. You can invoke your functions manually, or you can set up triggers so that they are invoked automatically. Serverless computing makes it easy to run your applications without having to worry about managing servers. This means that you can focus on your code and on adding new features to your application.

The Top Tools for Serverless Computing

There are many different tools available for serverless computing. The most popular ones are AWS Lambda, Google Cloud Functions, and Azure Functions. These tools allow you to easily create and deploy serverless applications. Additionally, they provide integrations with many different programming languages and frameworks. Other popular tools include ClaudiaJS and Serverless framework.

The Best Practices for Serverless Computing

There are a few best practices that you should follow when using serverless computing. First, you should redesign your application. This means that your application should not rely on any data that is stored on the server. Additionally, you should design your application to be event-driven. This means that your application should only be triggered by events, such as user requests or messages from other applications. Finally, you could opt into using a microservices architecture. This means that your application should be split into small, independent services that can be deployed and managed independently. This enables an architecture that some would call “Function-as-a-service” (serverless architecture) that is synonymous with microservices.

Conclusion

Serverless computing is not for all companies. You won’t benefit from it in all cases, and sometimes it might be better to stick with a monolith, server-driven application. If you are responsible for an enterprise application, then in almost all cases, the benefits will far outweigh the drawbacks. If you want to have a more in-depth conversation about serverless, do not hesitate to drop us a line.

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