“Serverless computing” has garnered a lot of interest of late. But what is serverless computing all about?
It is a cloud computing model wherein the cloud provider can completely run the server and can up-provision or downsize allocation of network, compute, and storage resources as per the contextual requirements arising at the time.
It enables organizations to pay as per the actual resources consumed by an application and saves the need to plan and purchase IT infrastructure resources that would be required to run the application.
Before we understand the benefits of serverless computing, let us delve into the concept of serverless architecture. Any application that has its underlying infrastructure requirements on the cloud (single cloud or omni-cloud) managed by the cloud service providers is a serverless architecture candidate.
These applications are usually very dynamic at the front-end and involves consistent and continual interaction with customers. For example: a mobile application which seamlessly navigates the customer through multiple pages and enables them to make purchase decisions and payments could benefit from serverless architecture.
This architecture could also be beneficial for applications where parts of the code are normally dormant and get triggered basis occurrence of pre-defined events. For example, an application which deals with admission to a college may require a lot of IT infrastructure resources when the admissions to the college is at its peak. During the slack season, the resources required may be much lesser. In such requirements, serverless architecture can provide the required flexibility as compared to blocking resources which would not be used all through out the year but just during the peak season.
Let us understand the key benefits of using serverless architecture and opting for serverless computing:
Faster, Flexible, Scalable and Seamless Deployments: The digital era that we live in demands that technology products and services be ready in the fastest possible time post conceptualization. While earlier a waterfall model was followed and applications could be built over several weeks, the scenario has undergone a paradigm shift now. Companies would love to make changes to their mobile application within hours to encash on a contextual situation. For example: A payments app announcing the benefits of paying for an “end-of-season” sale using their platform. In such a case, application development teams cannot wait to plan for infrastructure, get resources assigned, test applications and then release it. With serverless computing, they can circumvent this procedure as all technology resources for compute, storage, and network can be assigned to them in a jiffy – as soon as they ask for it. As the application grows and needs more resources, the serverless computing model can enable that it can be done in virtually no time and hence enables applications to run uninterrupted 24*7*365.
Optimize resource utilization and costs:
With serverless computing, the organization does not need to manage servers, databases, and allocation of resources to multiple business and technology teams at once. The same is taken care of by the cloud service provider. Furthermore, the organization does not need to pre-plan for resources and buy more than what is required. This creates a significant reduction in upfront CAPEX investments and spends on technology resources are in OPEX mode and hence provides for better visibility and analysis. It enables the Infrastructure and Operations experts in your organization to focus more on server-side coding and software-related aspects which further adds value to the business.
More time and focus on improving application interface and user experience:
The end-users of the applications always appreciate a seamless user experience. That, in today’s digital world, is a key differentiator hence organizations desire to spend more time on improving it. With serverless, the time saved in terms of planning and deploying compute, storage and network resources could be wisely channelled to improve overall user experience, product features etc. to ensure that customers are compelled to repeat their visits to the application so that the organization can accelerate its business and key metrics of customer engagement.
Improved User Experience:
Unlike a physical on-premise infrastructure setup where the server is in your vicinity, serverless architecture ensures that the application can be delivered across global points as per the cloud service providers global presence. The customers of your application could be anywhere in the world, but the latency would be minimum and similar for all. Wondering how? With serverless architecture and computing, the request based on a user action is received at the nearest serverless node and it ensures that the response time for the user is negligible no matter where in the world he resides.
Optimization of infrastructure footprint and carbon footprint:
With serverless architecture, not only do you get rid of unwanted IT hardware, you also reduce your infrastructure footprint significantly. It is not only cost-efficient but also energy efficient. With the cloud being your infrastructure host, you will consume lesser energy and larger organizations can rely on serverless architecture to reduce their carbon footprint and attain their carbon neutral targets much faster than they would have envisioned. It will give a significant impetus to their environmental, social and governance (ESG) targets and goals and creates a very positive brand image for them in the minds of their investors, employees, peers, and other stakeholders.
Microservices architecture and faster go-to-market: When you build new-generation applications, progressive web applications etc., the idea is to deliberate, innovate, decide, and implement new modules to enhance customer experience and stickiness. With serverless, organizations can implement new features faster using microservices for each new module or feature. Since the application comprises a series of microservices as against a monolithic architecture, organizations can pilot features faster, drop the unsuccessful ones, pivot, and implement newer features seamlessly and constantly improve customer experience.
What’s more, with these features being implemented fast and updated seamlessly, it enables organization to “go-to-market” faster than ever before. It also enables the customers to be more engaged with the brand and enjoy an immersive experience.
Is “Serverless Computing” the future?
Well, let’s reimagine the future with respect to technology and services. Would we keep demanding faster “go-to-market” for our applications? Will there be a constant demand for new features and innovations to be built into the applications? Will the rate of dynamicity of applications further increase? Will developers want to focus more on core development, coding and testing as against planning and getting resource deployed to test and run the code?
If the answer to the above is “Yes”, then serverless computing is the way to go. As organization can save precious time, cost, efforts and human capital deployed for infrastructure setup, planning, capacity, maintenance, vendor management and DevOps through serverless, it can channelize its resources towards improving key business metrics such as customer acquisition, engagement, retention and enhancing customer lifetime value which translates to sustainable business growth and brand recall.