The Serverless Future of Supercharged Applications

Thinking about deploying serverless computing? Here’s what you need to know

Today’s business environment is dominated by digital transformation. Digital-first and legacy companies alike are racing to upgrade their IT infrastructure while executives are grappling with how to maximize the return on their technology investment. This is especially critical in a post-pandemic world where enterprises are doing business remotely, as well as managing remote and distributed teams.

As such, organizations must find a way to leverage an increasingly complicated technology infrastructure. And with the speed with which the market for serverless computing set to grow to $21.1 billion by 2025, it is the critical next-generation technology that will empower enterprises to be more nimble and cost-efficient in building their cloud-native applications.

Serverless cloud computing and its potential benefits have become increasingly topical. The concept, in short, is that cloud providers run both the server infrastructure and also manage the applications and functions of the cloud resources simultaneously. The key benefits include no server management, lower costs, greater scalability, quicker deployment and enabling developers to build applications without having to worry about the infrastructure.

As a cloud-native architecture, serverless computing puts the work and onus on the cloud provider to provision and rapidly scale whatever computing power is needed at the moment to ensure your application performs at the speed and scalability needed. This in turn frees up your most expensive resources—your developers—to focus on application development and value creation instead of infrastructure management.

Serverless architecture is also more cost-effective for computing resources. Providers typically use a “pay-per-use” or consumption pricing model with an automatic scale up and scale down ability as opposed to having to pre-purchase units of capacity.

Furthermore, by freeing up developers to focus only on their application, companies can get to deployment that much quicker than in a traditional infrastructure model. Developers can upload code as a group all at once, or upload and edit functions one at a time. Since code can be implemented in segments as microservices, applications are quicker to get to runtime. And, the application can go out to deployment while various parts of code continue to be worked on resulting in an overall faster time to market.

Making the Move to Serverless

As you think about deploying serverless computing, here are four things to keep in mind:

  1. Support for State: You want to make sure to choose a platform that supports your specific application needs. There are some serverless platforms that are best suited for stateless workloads only, and if your application is saving session state, then you are moving the burden of managing state to the developer—which doesn’t deliver the serverless promise to its fullest extent.
  2. Architecture: Make sure to architect the application so that it can leverage the serverless architecture. Developers need to code business logic from long-running server components to functions, and so it needs to be a conscious design decision to move to such an architecture.
  3. Cloud Portability: Consider cloud portability when deciding what platform to use, as well as startup latency. If the application is sensitive to startup latency, developers should adopt a platform that supports warm containers to avoid this penalty.
  4. Limitations: One of the pitfalls of using serverless is the limits imposed by the serverless providers. Some developers are not aware of those limitations when they get started, or they underestimate how easily an application can bump into these limits over time. With that said, developers should choose a platform that allows a high degree of flexibility from providers.

Serverless computing is a rapidly growing space that is getting increasingly recognized for its benefits in flexibility, scalability and cost savings of cloud infrastructure deployment. This ultimately results in a faster time to market. And, anytime you can achieve “better, faster, cheaper, simpler” I believe you’re onto a winning formula.

Anshu Agarwal

Anshu is the CEO and co-founder of Nimbella, a serverless cloud provider. She has over 20 years of experience in the technology industry, building and evangelizing products that have solved real-world problems for organizations large and small across the globe. She served on the Board of Directors of the OpenDaylight Project, Linux. Prior to Nimbella, she successfully led product and marketing teams at four infrastructure startups: Cedexis (acquired by Citrix, 2018), ConteXtream (acquired by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, 2015), Ankeena Networks (acquired by Juniper Networks, 2010), and Speedera Networks (acquired by Akamai, 2005). Anshu holds a B.S. E.E. from IIT/Roorkee, India; M.S. E.E. from Rutgers; and an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

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