Serverless is a well-known buzzword nowadays. It went from a futuristic mystery to a widely adopted need-to-have technology. By definition, serverless computing is running applications on clouds without managing underlying servers. A cloud platform provider will manage and monitor servers for your applications on demand. Application developers can focus on business logic rather than servers.
Let's say we have a coffee shop. We start small, and we have one coffee vendor in the shop. Each customer comes in a row and asks for the coffee they want. The vendor gives them coffee, and the customer leaves, making space for the next.
This process is the same as traditional single-server architecture, where one monolithic server serves all users.
Great starting point! Now our coffee shop is catching attention. More and more customers are coming to taste coffee. Shop gets flooded with coffee seekers, especially during rush hours. Not that one vendor can handle all of them. So we hire two more vendors.
Now there are three rows, and customers are happy because they have to wait less time to get coffee.
This concept is similar to using server clusters with load balancers. User traffic is split and handled by several identical servers.
However, there is a small problem in our coffee shop. Even though 3 of our vendors work at their full capacity during rush hours, our shop doesn't get that many customers on some hours. Sometimes there are barely enough customers for a single vendor to serve. So the other two vendors sit around and watch Netflix. We cannot tell them to go home because we don't know when a sudden crowd of customers would enter the shop.
The same issue is present on traditional servers or server clusters. We have to buy powerful enough servers to handle the peak traffic loads. However, they become excessive during low-traffic hours. We end up paying a lot more than we actually use, or worse, we may unknowingly purchase less than the optimal amount, and then some customers will lose our services during peak hours.
This is where serverless comes in handy.
Our coffee shop partners with a company called Vendorless. Vendorless will take the responsibility of managing vendors. Our coffee shop doesn't own any vendors now. When customers come into the shop, Vendorless provides the optimal number of vendors our customers need. We pay vendors only for the time they work in our shop. When there are more customers, there will be more vendors. When there are no customers, there will be no vendors, and we pay nothing. Now, even if the whole city suddenly turns up on our doorstep asking for coffee, we can serve them all without doing anything special. Vendorless got your back.
How is Vendorless doing this? It turns out, Vendorless has thousands of coffee vendors working in hundreds of different coffee shops. When a shop needs vendors, Vendorless allocates them from their vendor group. When a shop doesn't need some vendors anymore, Vendorless reclaims them.
Congratulations, you just learned what serverless is and, more importantly, how it works! Vendorless and serverless are very similar concepts, except serverless isn't a company. It is a service provided by cloud platforms.
Advantages of using serverless compared to traditional servers
As you already figured, your application will scale up and down seamlessly when utilizing serverless. You don't need to worry when the peak traffic hits or how close it is to black Friday. This is a huge relief if your project can't predict the traffic it will get over time.
Resources are allocated on demand. Therefore, you only pay for the resources you actually use, never for the 'standby' ones. Most serverless platforms charge you for the CPU and memory used per second.
No server maintenance
If you manage virtual servers, you have to configure them carefully from the operating system level. You have to install software, patch them and update them continually. One mistake you make over the course of years could open up a vulnerability to a hacker or malware getting into your system. By going serverless, you don't have to worry about these. Expert engineers working at your cloud provider will configure and maintain the servers and underlying software. They know what they do very well.
Serverless applications, by design, do not rely on a continuing state. This design may complicate the system in some situations. But it outweighs the cons with the pros, such as increased reliability, stability, and security. If a serverless runner crashes, it will not affect other runners. The crashed runner will be removed, and a new runner will be allocated. The new runner does not have to carry the burden of the previous 'sick' runner. It will start from a clean slate. This way, even if one user crashes the application, other users will continue to use your system smoothly. Engineers tend to design systems 'serverless-first' even if they do not intend to utilize serverless because this design makes your system more fault tolerant.
Specialized for your application
Serverless runners are specifically created to run your application. If we take the vendorless example, the coffee vendors that Vendorless provides are born and live only to serve coffee. They can not drive or sing. They don't even know what Netflix is. Similarly, serverless runners are created for the sole purpose of running your application. They are containerized with only the required dependencies of your application. This design is a prominent reason for serverless to be cost-effective and more secure.
Serverless is exemplary technology for small startups to ample scale-ups alike. There's no need for a huge budget to get started in serverless as cloud platforms provide a generous free quota each month. We can celebrate business success with peace of mind, knowing that the software services will just grow along with the company. At Bitzquad, we utilize sophisticated technology like serverless computing to get your business a higher ground of advantage. Contact us today. Let's work together!