Cybersecurity

Will Serverless Computing Revolutionize Software Development?

Thanks to AWS Lambda, serverless computing has become a new buzzword in the IT world. This technology has released software developers from the necessity to maintain servers and allowed them to concentrate only on code writing.

 

However, like any other innovation, this technology raises many concerns. Is this technology really innovative or is it just a new marketing buzzword? How is it beneficial for software developers? How will it impact the software industry? Keep reading this article, if you want to get a clearer picture of this new cloud service.

Does it really has no server?

The term serverless is misleading, as the technology still uses servers, but now all issues regarding them are the responsibility of cloud service providers. Ken Fromm firstly used the term “serverless” in regard to continuous integration and source control systems that are hosted as a service in 2012. More attention was paid to this term in 2014 when Amazon launched AWS Lambda, the first serverless platform. Since that time, such industry giants as Google, IBM, and Microsoft also saw huge perspectives in this cloud service and developed their own serverless platforms.

 

Serverless computing is actually the same as Functions as a Service (FaaS) because the technology uses functions as its deployment unit. Serverless applications consist of functions that run in containers instantiating further to requests, like HTTPS or scheduled tasks. That’s why serverless computing is also known as event-based programming. While there are no servers on the developer’s side, functions are stateless and require backend services for ensuring the necessary levels of abstraction. Thus, the applications made on the serverless platform also depend on an external Backend as a Service (BaaS) provider.

 

Considering this, the serverless architecture has the following components:

 

  •    API Gateway is a special service for managing APIs and connecting to the functions deployed on a serverless platform. API Gateway also helps developers handle SSL termination, authentication, and other issues.
  •    Function as a Service offers cloud services on a serverless platform necessary for developing functions, as well as running and managing application functionalities.
  •    Backend as a Service is a model of cloud services that provide developers with different infrastructure functions like cloud storage, social media integration, push notifications, user management, and other backend services.

 

As you can see from the serverless architecture, software developers are now responsible only for writing an application code. After it is done, a cloud service provider further takes care about the code deployment, execution, and management, as well as resource provisioning, including auto-scaling, and virtual machine maintenance.

Discover all the pros and cons of serverless computing

Now, when you have a clear view of what serverless computing is, let’s look closer at why this technology is promised to be more beneficial than existing approaches.

 

Advantages of serverless computing

 

  •    Reduced development costs: With serverless computing, there is the billing principle of pay-as-you-go. FaaS functions execute only on requests, so you pay only for the actual time of your application running.
  •    Improved application code: Programming on a serverless platform requires creating short-run functions that leads to improvement of software code execution. This approach makes the same operation run faster on the serverless platform than on the hardware server.
  •    Elastic scalability:In serverless computing, applications are automatically scaled up according to increased user traffic. Thus, there is no need for developers to worry about how their application will cope with rapidly increased workloads.
  •    Reduced development time: Writing code for a serverless application is much easier and faster for developers, as they don’t need to write additional scripts for function deployment. Thus, the serverless environment allows reducing the time-to-market of new software.
  •    Pre-installed security measures:When managing servers in-house, you have to install third-party applications for user authentication and management. Fortunately, serverless providers offer pre-built tools for developers.

 

Disadvantages of serverless computing

 

Despite all these benefits, serverless computing is a relatively new technology and not all kinks have been ironed out. Let’s take a closer look on disadvantages of serverless computing — maybe it’s not as good as it sounds.

 

  •    Cold starts:When your code is triggered for the first time, a cloud provider has to initialize a container for function execution. The process causes a latency of several seconds, which makes your application services unavailable for customers for a while. This problem is also known as “cold start”.
  •    Resource limits: For better resource distribution, cloud providers impose limits on bandwidth, memory, and function execution time. Such limitations make developers avoid writing long-running functions. However, some applications, like emergency or financial ones, require to run for a long time.
  •    Lack of testing and debugging tools:  In serverless computing, developers don’t have access to the file system level, so they may face difficulties with overall testing of application functions. Moreover, there is still a lack of debugging tools that can operate in the serverless environment.
  •    Multitenancy issues: Cloud providers distribute their resources among various applications. It means that if your app is located on the server with function -heavy software, this may cause latency in your app performance.
  •    Lack of human skills: Serverless computing is a new cloud technology, so there is a lack of developers with skills in creating serverless apps on the market. Therefore, software companies that want to benefit from serverless development need to invest in staff training first.

How will serverless computing impact the industry?

It’s obvious that the technology of serverless computing is rough enough and need to be polished to eliminate existing challenges. However, the IT industry experts consider the technology as those that can revolutionize the processes of software development. Particularly, they expect that serverless computing will enhance developers to create software that meets the needs of advanced technologies, like big data, cognitive intelligence, the Internet of Things, and data analytics.

According to Gartner’s predictions, the market for serverless computing will reach its peak in 2-4 years and most of the technology applications will be beyond the IT industry. Moreover, we expect to see first examples of serverless applications by the end of this year.

Conclusion

Serverless computing offers an innovative approach to software development that can save an organization’s budget and time. Using this promising technology, developers can get rid of server maintenance issues and create software that meets the needs of the time. However, this approach is fairly new, so it may be challenging to cope with all the disadvantages that serverless computing has.

 

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