Is Serverless Computing the next Step for the Cloud?
The cloud revolutionized the way people do business. So what’s the next step? All signs point to serverless computing. Here’s why.
Cloud computing lied to us.
It promised a world with unlimited resources. It promised a world where you no longer have to maintain those resources.
But life on the cloud never lived up to the original laissez-faire dream. Infrastructure-as-a-service products still needed provisioning, performance monitoring, and cost management.
It was way more hands on than anyone imagined.
But, as it turns out, cloud computing was just in its infancy and nobody realized it. The unforeseen next revolution was merely a few years away.
Enter serverless computing.
While the name is a bit of a misnomer, the concept sill changed the way we interact with cloud servers. And today we’re going to find out how and why it’s the next step in cloud computing’s evolution.
What the Heck is Serverless Computing?
Serverless computing isn’t serverless.
That’s right. Geeks just like to confuse the rest of the population with misleading terms.
But from the perspective of a web developer, serverless computing will seem like an accurate term.
With serverless computing, a developer no longer has to concern themselves with the operational side of cloud computing — things like managing servers and a cloud load balancer — and just focus on writing code.
There are three layers to this new serverless architecture: framework, fabric, and functions.
This is the part that removes the need to monitor any operational functions. It leaves the developer free to write code and build awesome applications.
Serverless computing is event driven. In essence, you set triggers and the software accesses the cloud when needed. This is the framework around which you build your code.
These are the brains behind everything. Functions-as-a-Service gives you the patterns, packages, and reference architectures you need to code an application for serverless computing.
Amazon Web Services created the gold standard for serverless computing back in 2014.
Most cloud providers now use AWS Lambda for their cloud computing services. But Microsoft’s Azure Functions just showed up as a major competitor for AWS Lambda.
And IMB has been in the game for a little while with its Bluemix OpenWhisk (although it’s not as popular as AWS Lambda).
What Kind Of Application Could Benefit?
Event or trigger-based programming is a very powerful programming model. You can get code activated quickly and then respond to it right away.
If your company runs an application that might experience rapid and unpredictable spikes in demand, you might want to switch to a serverless computing model.
You can have the serverless tools automatically execute code in response to a sudden influx of traffic. Or you can set it to activate for a predetermined event.
How You Can Benefit With Serverless Computing
You’re probably chomping at the bit and ready to adopt serverless computing by now.
The hassles of monitoring your own servers and overpaying for computing power you’re not using are gone.
But before you launch into a serverless computing service, you should know the real benefits.
Previously, cloud computing was scalable. But it took quite a lot of work to scale up your operation.
With serverless computing, you don’t have to worry about scale.
The service platform handles the application scaling to meet user demand.
It doesn’t matter if you have thousands of users or millions of users. The work is the same on your end.
All of the provisioning planning you had to do with traditional cloud computing is gone. Just focus on the code and you’re good to go.
Before serverless computing, your operations ran constantly. And you had to pay for that even when you weren’t utilizing the servers.
Imagine, instead, only having to pay for the time your deployed instances are actually working.
That’s the benefit of serverless computing. You’re no longer paying a fixed cost per instance deployed.
You’ll be saving a truckload of cash by going with a serverless computing service.
The Downsides to Serverless Computing
While you can really benefit from serverless computing as a web developer, it’s still an early adopter tech.
Even cloud computing is still in its infancy.
So a lot of companies are just starting out. They’re still designing applications for original cloud computing architecture.
Essentially, you have to be a DIY kind of web developer to get started with serverless computing.
Not a lot of tools exist that are optimized for this kind of computing.
While things are improving and have improved over the last year, a lot of the tools you need are just not there. This means you have to develop your own tools to work with serverless computing.
Google is working with the open-source community to develop the necessary tools. But this is going to take some time and collaboration.
Complications arise pretty quickly in serverless cloud computing. If you’re working with a more complicated technology like the Internet of Things (IoT), you’ll have to know how to untangle some pretty big problems.
An Example of Serverless Computing in Action
iRobot is now using serverless technology to run their network of robot vacuum cleaners.
This IoT tech creates a lot of challenges for serverless architecture technology.
With 12 million robots talking to each other through the cloud all over the world, you can imagine how this is a major test for the fledgling cloud technology.
But iRobot dove head first into using their serverless architecture for their internet of robots. And Ben Kehoe, iRobot’s Robotics Research Scientist, is optimistic about using the technology.
He sees it just like any other technology. Where it works, you let it be and where it doesn’t, you come up with solutions to work around that.
It’s almost an art form, fluid and dynamic. And Ben Kehoe thinks it’s about balance and about finding the pragmatic solution to meet your goals.
Serverless Has Potential
If you’re looking for the future of computing technology, then serverless might be the ticket.
While it’s still an infant in the world of computational adult, serverless will nonetheless change the face of cloud computing in the near future.
Just make sure that if you jump in, you know what you’re doing. While it’s a web developer’s dream, it’s still early adopter tech.
But try it out, and you’ll see how serverless is the next generation in cloud computing technology.