What is Serverless Architecture?
Serverless Architecture - An Overview
The core idea behind such a solution is to give users the flexibility of highest order.
A type of cloud computing execution model, this architecture provides primary components of app deployment infrastructure, such as servers and machine resources as per the client demand. Enterprises willing to develop enterprise or client-side applications don’t have to procure these resources while going serverless. They can rent them.
The above implies that developers are no longer accountable for ensuring end-to-end server scaling, maintenance, and provisioning. Scaling happens automatically because you can pay according to how you consume resources.
FaaS is the most famous and primitive serverless architecture. The first FaaS came into being at the hands of Amazon and it was AWS Lambda. Now, we have other FaaS solutions, e.g., the ones developed by Azure, Twilio, and Google Cloud.
Serverless computing, Function as a Service, or FaaS, whatever you call it, it’s a visionary application development approach permitting enterprises to execute the application development task without being extensively involved in infrastructure management.
How it Works?
Let’s begin with FaaS.
In FaaS, application codes are written as a collection of distinct functions, with each of them designed to perform different operations. These functions are bound to be triggered by some events like email or HTTP request forwarding.
Developers have to perform the basic testing of these functions before deploying them. Functions, along with their respective triggers, need to be tested and then deployed on the service provider account.
When the service provider gets a function, there are 2 ways to proceed:
- It could execute using the currently running/available server
- It might need to call a new server to execute the function
Both these actions take place remotely asking for no involvement from the developer side.
They tend to continue coding.
Some of the most vital serverless architecture components are:
- A vocation that is single function execution
- Cold start is the latency caused because of function execution
- The duration refers to the total time consumed to execute a specific function
- Concurrency Limit is the maximum function instances that take execution simultaneously
- Timeout is the permitted time for a function
Why and When to Use it?
A recent survey of O’Reilly figured out that nearly 40% of present-day organizations have already adopted serverless architecture. But do you know what makes this approach so lucrative?
Well, we have an answer.
Application hosting on the internet require a fullproof infrastructure, reliable servers, and an effective way to managem and assist its apps. The server could be virtual or physical.
With physical servers, development, management, and even usage is complex at various stages and requires certain expertise.
With virtual servers, as is the case with serverless implementation, things are smooth on every front. If you service provider is good, no concerns like server set-up, configuration, access control, maintenance, version update, and many more will bother you.
Also, the approach permits end-users to shift their entire focus on the application code functionality. Rest aspects like physical hardware management, web server software management, and virtual machine OS are taken care of by the service provider.
Now that it’s clear what makes serverless architecture a promising technology, have a look at situations when it is ought to be most fruitful.
- The approach is highly result-driven when only a limited or handful of functions needs to be hosted.
- For complex applications, it is only useful if application components are sectioned into small pieces and are diverted to serverless functions one by one.
- Developers seeking end-to-end Twilio solution implementation can use the serverless approach, Twilio Functions. With the help of this tool, developers have the freedom to select from a wide range of pre-built templates.
The Advantages of Using a Serverless Architecture
As the technique is way too advanced from traditional app development methodology and brings a lot to the table, developers don’t think twice about using it. While you think of using this approach, make sure you’re aware of the key benefits to enjoy. Gladly, there are many.
The first and immediate benefit is an accelerated, seamless, and hassle-free development process. As developers are no longer assigned the responsibility of server deployment and management, the total time consumed in application development is excessively reduced.
Secondly, one is likely to have better application performance and fewer errors/bugs in the applications as developers are allowed to put their focus on the development part rather than resource procuring and management.
With the serverless approach, huge application components are sectioned into small sections. These compact sections are easy-to-observe, monitor, and manage. Also, it takes more than expected time to spot the bugs and their removal. Overall, you have improved the visibility and observability of the application with this architecture.
As serverless implementationm instead of being a stream-based system, works as per the event-driven methodology, all components of an app on it can be used independently. The occurrence of one event causes another event to take place. It leads to speedy development. Also, the event-based architecture ensures that the whole log is not affected when there is any system failure. Only the targeted event has to face the failure and its results. Rest remains functional as it was before.
Speed and improved flexibility are the two most promised benefits of this approach. As there is no need to get engaged in infrastructure setup, deployment can be done quickly. Pivoting becomes easy as the approach is highly flexible and has scope for improvement. Any addition or deletion of resources can be done without making things complex.
Of course, how can we forget to mention the reduced development cost? Organizations don’t have to spend on server set-up, management, and maintenance.
Also, you pay as per your requirements which lead to full consumption of hired resources.
Applications utilizing serverless deployment are performance-oriented and likely to have better UX. The reason is, besides improving the app speed, it will save time and money for developers, so they work on other essentials.
Examples Where Serverless Architecture Can be Deployed
It has wide use cases and can be implemented in various application development scenarios, such as:
- Use it for applications involved extensively in trigger-based operation.
- Looking for highly-scalable RESTful APIs? Use Amazon API Gateway alongside the serverless functions. It is better from the API security perspective too.
- Use it with Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) as it can automate many stages of these two functions.
- If you need to run long-duration workloads then be ready to spend more with it. In this case, the conventional server-centric approach is more viable.
- We won’t suggest using this inventive approach if you seek full control on the development part and don’t like taking much hold of the third party. As this approach makes you more dependent on the serverless commuting provider, you lose control.
- You might face a cold start issue. It takes a little longer to fix it. However, it’s entirely resolvable.
What is the difference between FaaS and PaaS?
PaaS and FaaS are linked with applications and app development. Having a better understanding of these two leads to better solutions, so here we go –
PaaS is closer to the serverless methodology as it lifts up the obligation of doing client-side server management of virtual and physical resources. But, it differs from FaaS or serverless deployment at the app composition and deployment level.
While PaaS is used, applications are deployed as a unified unit and are developed using traditional frameworks. Mostly, web app development frameworks such as Ruby on Rails, Flask, and .NET are used for PaaS-based development.
In the case of FaaS, apps are composed of distinct and self-dependent entities. Big components are sectioned into small sections and the FaaS provider bears the responsibility for each section’s hosting.
PaaS require scaling full application while FaaS initiates the automatic scaling. It fluctuates as per the frequency of function calls.
As FaaS charges only for functions you use to get called, it’s more pocket-friendly than PaaS wherein you need to pay for the resources as a whole. Pay as you go or use is not allowed with PaaS.
Container Vs Serverless Architecture
It is quite probable that developers, while making a choice, remain confused about serverless vs container architecture. It is because both practices permit them to do code deployment out of the hosting ecosystem for your applications. But, they both are not the same. There are certainly significant differences between these two. Let’s understand them.
Developers choosing container architecture are bound to get involved in used containers’ management and deployment. Also, system settings and dependencies are taken care of by them only. To be honest, this cannot be called as stress-free as serverless implementations that make it compulsory for the. In the latter case service provider to manage everything related to the server and its deployment.
In a serverless approach, it is automated and depends on resource allocation. On contrary, container architectures need an orchestration platform to scale. Speaking of control over the resources, OS, and runtime ecosystem, container architecture has an upper hand as developers permit developers to monitor and modify them.
It is the obligation of service providers when serverless architecture is concerned. Also, granting permissions, except for resource selection for developers, need to be done by you.
Containers are better for applications seeking high traffic and cloud migration while serverless implementation is ideal for payment processing applications or other performance-critical solutions.