Serverless – Welcome To A New Cloud Computing Era

Meta: Serverless cloud has been a hype recently. It is believed to change the future of enterprise apps development by significantly lowering cost and enhancing the efficiency.

Introduction

Serverless is a hot topic that attracts the attention of most cloud industry insiders recently. It is widely believed to become a major innovation in the next few years. In fact, the term “serverless” does not have a clear definition. In this article, we will go through an overview of serverless and the potential that it has to open the door to a new computing era.

Body

With the appearance of serverless cloud computing, the cloud resources are no longer distributed, just to stay idle waiting to power applications when called upon. Instead, the assets are only supplied when a specific event emerges.  In particular, when users get access to their smartphone applications, which is known as an “event”, the virtual machines in the cloud will recover and serve them with the expected information.

Let’s explore the ecosystem of serverless technologies.
Nick Rockwell, the Chief Technology Officer of the New York Times, admitted that serverless cloud computing, also known as Function-as-a-Service (FaaS), would the next breakthrough in the cloud industry. The serverless architecture allows developers to concentrate more on writing codes instead of wasting their time thinking about the servers.  Besides, he claimed that the serverless cloud made the product more scalable and reliable, it would soon become a much better and cheaper choice to make.

The problem of idle instances

When Nick Rockwell moved from Conde Nast to the newspaper, the Times had its computing infrastructure connected to Virtual Private Cloud of Amazon Web Service (AWS). This allowed businesses to connect their data to the virtual private cloud within the AWS. However, they didn’t have a Content Delivery Network (CDN), which means they couldn’t store the data in the place close to customers’ devices.

Nowadays, the Times functions on two separate clouds: the AWS for corporate applications and e-commerce platforms; Google Cloud Platform (GCP)  for consumer applications such as the NYTimes.com and smartphone app. Migrating to the cloud seems helpful, but managing it is not a simple task. The IT team of Rockwell had to measure how many AWS and GCP instances are required, how large they are and whether they need added inputs, outputs, and memory or not.   The next step is configuring the instances, patching and installing software on the operating system.  Then, the developers must strictly manage the dependencies of each application to find out the scale of each part of the apps.

Serverless is the future 

When a predicted event happens, the code for a specific function will be activated; then the server platforms will perform the required task. Customers don’t have to tell the cloud service providers how many times the functions need to be executed; they need to pay a little every time the codes are triggered. Instead of wasting with the idle instances in the cloud, Rockwell suggested that serverless can help us to multiply the efficiency up to ten times.

Developers can benefit from the high availability from Serverless: the fault tolerance are the features of serverless frameworks. So they don’t need to keep their servers to make the apps highly available. In case of unexpected node failures, the framework will immediately respawn the nodes, so it seems like there are no problems at all.

Moreover, serverless architecture offers incredibly flexible scaling. As you have no idea about the physical server, there is no need to be worried about its scalability. The application will be distributed to more resources to meet the demand of capacities.

The outstanding features of Serverless Architecture are just too good for developers to ignore.
Can serverless become the Next Big Thing in the future of cloud computing? That’s still a big question that no one can affirm. But it is predicted that 90 percent of serverless deployment will take place outside of the IT team’s infrastructure.  Cloud vendors are also looking for collaboration with famous organizations like the Times or General Electric, where CTO Chris Drumgoole has shown his ardor for the serverless cloud.

In 2014, Amazon Web Service launched AWS Lambda, their first enterprise serverless platform. There are also many offerings available from Microsoft and Google that customers can choose. At present, Rockwell is responsible for the Times’ crossword puzzle and some other applications using serverless cloud service in Google’s App Engine. And he highly appraises Google’s expertise, especially its Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and the capability to manage containers.

Cloud platforms allow developers to make the right decisions over how to design and manage their products. But the approach of Google seems opinionated: choosing the architecture design options and stick to them. What’s more, Google is trying to create an ecosystem of opinionated products that work in conjunction. Though developers would prefer a wider range of choices, fewer choices can cut down on the cost of planning, designing and structuring an architecture.

Conclusion

The emergence of the term “serverless” has removed developers’ concern about the infrastructure because their software lifecycle will depend more on the cloud vendors. Enterprises are starting to invest more in serverless architecture, but it is never as easy as we’ve expected. Serverless is our future, but it would take businesses a lot of time to reach the destination.


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