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Serverless Computing - The Complete Guide

 

Back in 2017, the serverless market was estimated at around $3B USD. However, it is currently projected to reach $20B USD by 2025. With numerous advantages over traditional cloud computing and server-centric infrastructure, serverless architecture provides more flexibility, scalability, simplified deployment, and reduced cost. Learn what serverless is, how it works, major benefits, top serverless providers, and how to get started.

What is Serverless?

Serverless Computing Explained

Serverless is a cloud computing model where the service provider dynamically allocates the exact amount of resources needed on-demand. The main advantage of serverless computing is the provider only charges you for the exact machine resources needed, whereas in cloud computing, you pre-purchase units of bandwidth and resources are dedicated to you at all times, whether they're in use.

While the name serverless is not the elimination of servers from distributed applications. The name serverless refers to the fact that the provider manages, provisions, and maintains backend services on an as-used basis. A company that gets computing resources from a serverless vendor is charged only for the resources their application actually consumes. Hence the client does not have to reserve and pay for a fixed amount of bandwidth or a number of servers, as the service is auto-scaling.

How Serverless Works

Serverless architecture relies on functions, or more specifically functions-as-a-service (FaaS). It is a service model that allows developers to run code directly in the cloud without the need to build packages or maintain any infrastructure. Applications are broken up into individual functions that can be invoked and scaled individually.

Benefits of Serverless

 

Full scalabilityDevelopers do not have to upload code to servers or do any backend configuration in order to release a working version of an application, nor administrators to upgrade existing servers or add servers. Scalability is automatic and you don’t have to worry about the need to provision the underlying infrastructure.

Easy To Deploy – By using a serverless solution you will get a faster deployment of resources than you would by using other cloud computing models. Instead of weeks and months to deploy an app, you can do it within minutes. The main reason behind such a quick and simplified deployment is that you don’t have to take care of the infrastructure.

No infrastructure requirements – Since developers will be literally using someone else’s computer to execute their serverless functions, there will be no infrastructure to maintain.

No server or software management – Even though ‘serverless’ computing actually takes place on servers, developers are not required to deal with the servers. 

Fault-tolerant – Developers are not responsible for ensuring the fault tolerance of the serverless architecture s. The cloud provider provides the IT infrastructure—compute, storage, networking, and databases that will be automatically allocated to account for almost any kind of failure

Lower cost – The costs related to serverless computing are minimal compared to other cloud services, developers are only charged for the duration of execution and not by the server unit. The serverless model enables customers to avoid the costs associated with operating a server such as access authorization, presence detection, security, image processing, and other costs.

No upfront paymentsSince you will only be paying for the running code there will be no upfront investment

Reduced LatencyUsing serverless functions will bring minimal latency to end-users. As the serverless functions do not operate from a designated origin server, there will not be just one location that an end user’s traffic has to be directed to. In this case, all of the cloud provider’s data centers will be used and the function will be executed by the nearest server, hence greatly reducing the response time.

Simplified backend codeAs the app is not hosted on an origin server, its code can be run from anywhere 

Types of Serverless Technologies

 

There are two main types of serverless computing. By using one of the below methods you can build an entirely serverless application, or comprise an application of partially serverless and partially traditional microservices components.

Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS)

A BaaS or mBaaS or Backend as a Service is mainly used to develop applications for Web and Mobile. It refers to a platform that allows developers to focus on the frontend of an app by relying heavily on the use of third party applications, databases, and APIs to manage server-side logic

Function-as-a-Service (FaaS)

The Function-as-a-Service architecture calls in a function only when it is needed to run and it runs in containers fully managed by a cloud provider. 

In addition to the above mentioned popular FaaS and BaaS platforms, there are a few other serverless architectures including:

Serverless Databases – Serverless databases are intended to store data, unlike FaaS and BaaS. This type of database has been specially designed to address the need for unpredictable workloads that can change quickly, By using a serverless database you get to pay only for the database resources you use, on a second-by-second basis.

Serverless Frameworks – are great tools for deploying and operating a serverless application. These frameworks (previously known as JAWS) consist of a Node.js or Python open-source CLI and a hosted dashboard. 

Full List of Serverless Providers

 

The market of serverless architecture providers is no longer limited to major vendors, we have recently seen new players entering this space.

AWS Lambda an event-driven, serverless computing platform that belongs to Amazon Web Services. It was released in 2014, and now holds the leading position on the market offering the widest range of services available. AWS Lambda can be used for a wide range of tasks and supports code written in Java, Python and Node.js. In addition, the service can launch processes in languages supported by Amazon Linux (includes Bash, Go & Ruby).

AWS Aurora – a relational database engine  offered by Amazon Web Services. AWS Aurora is compatible with all the versions of MySQL and PostgreSQ and makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud. It seamlessly grows with business needs.

Azure Functions by Microsoft – the serverless computing service hosted on the Microsoft Azure public cloud The Microsoft Azure service allows you to run small pieces of code in Node.js, C#, Python, PHP and Java and enables running application code on-demand without requiring the provision and management of the underlying infrastructure.

Google Cloud Functions (GCF) – a serverless, event-driven computing service that allows you to create small, single-purpose functions. It became generally available in August 2018 and it caters a series of modular cloud services such as computing, data storage, data analytics and machine learning.

IBM Cloud Functions – a serverless programming platform based on Apache OpenWhisk. IBM Cloud Functions support many programming languages such as JavaScript or Python. It accelerates application development,and allows developers to write out applications on IBM’s servers and have them executed remotely and on demand.

Apache OpenWhisk – an open source distributed serverless cloud platform developed by the Apache Software Foundation. It executes functions in response to events that can originate from various sources, like timers, databases, message queues, or websites. It offers per-request scaling and automatic resource allocation, so it can easily adapt to a growing site, service or application.

Spotinst – founded in 2015, Spotinist acquired AWS partner StratCloud. It now offers a complete solution for cloud users by automating multi-cloud infrastructure management. They help enterprises run any workload and support large-scale migrations on any cloud provider.

Cloudflare Workers – offers a suite of products which allows developers to build and extend the capabilities of serverless sites without  having to configure or maintain the infrastructure, Cloudflare Workers provides a lightweight JavaScript  serverless execution environment that adds performance, security, and reliability for your website.

Oracle Fn Project – an open-source serverless compute platform that you can run anywhere (public, private and hybrid cloud) and supports all programming languages. It has been written in Go and is performant and easy to use.

Kubernetes – an open-source system for container orchestration across multiple hosts. Kubernetes started as a project within Google.in 2014. It is great for deploying all types of apps as it supports all programming languages.  

Most Popular Serverless Frameworks

 

Here’s a roundup of the most popular Serverless frameworks that enable developers to explore new aspects of serverless computing without any commercial constraints:

Amplify Framework  an open-source framework for building cloud-enabled mobile and web applications. It features a JS library, UI components, and a CLI toolchain intended for use by front-end devs who actively develop web-based and mobile-based apps on the cloud. 

Architect Framework – allows you to build fast, modern, scalable cloud apps with full local, offline workflows, and more. Architect leverages Node and NPM to  bring structure and insight to the AWS Serverless landscape

Up – a framework that helps you deploy Serverless applications with outstanding scalability potential. Up currently supports Node.js, Golang, Python, Java, and Crystal. Furthermore, you can use Up to deploy static websites, APIs, and to support AWS Lambda.

Claudia.jsa framework that only works for Node.js/JavaScript-based projects. Claudia makes it easy to deploy Node.js projects to AWS Lambda and API Gateway. This framework will automate deployment tasks, configuration, and will automatically set up your JavaScript environment for modern development.

Jets – a Ruby Serverless Framework.  Jets features all the necessary tooling to map your code to Lambda functions and API Gateway resources. You can also use the Jets Framework to write separate functions that you can use to join together different services and resources provided by AWS.

Kubeless – a Kubernetes-native serverless open-source framework that allows deployment of small bits of code. Kubeless takes advantage of Kubernetes resources to provide auto-scaling, routing, monitoring, and troubleshooting. Functions are consumed via an API, REST, as well as through the use of message bus technologies such as Kafka, Kinesis, Nats, SQS, etc.

Fission: A serverless open-source function framework for Kubernetes that allows you to code serverless functions in any language. Fission allows you to easily create HTTP services on Kubernetes from functions.

Pulumi – makes creating cloud programs easy and productive. It. provides a seamless SDK to help you create and deploy software on service providers such as GCP, AWS, Kubernetes, and Azure. Pulumi is a great framework for writing entire applications that can feature serverless functions, however, it can also include containers, databases, cloud services, or even virtual machines.

Serverless – a free and open-source web framework that has been written using Node.js and is the first framework that has been developed for building applications on AWS Lambda. 

This framework is great for building applications comprised of microservices; this can be done by using the language and runtime of your choice (Node.js, Ruby, Python, Go, C#, Java, etc). In addition, the framework comes with a rich set of plugins for increased functionalities.

How to Build Serverless Data Streaming Apps 

 

Serverless architectures can be used for many types of applications. For example, you can process transaction orders, analyze click streams, business transactions, evaluate performance data generated by operational IT or manufacturing systems, or telemetry from sensors and other edge devices.

There are numerous industries that heavily rely on data, so most industries use data aggregation to combine data from multiple sources into one place. The main advantage of real-time data integration is that it can transmit accurate and timely data between systems so businesses can make better-informed business decisions in real-time.

Confluent offers a streaming platform based on Apache Kafka that enables companies to easily access data as real-time streams. The Confluent Platform, improves the way businesses manage and act on the data that is continuously produced. With its help business have the capability to organize and manage the massive volumes of streaming data that is being generated 

Confluent addresses the requirements of enterprise streaming applications. It provides your business a simple way to build an enterprise-wide streaming platform for a wide array of use cases.

You can start by downloading Confluent, the leading distribution of Apache Kafka and the only enterprise event streaming platform available in the industry, or learn more about real-time data streaming.

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