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What is Serverless Architecture

April 15, 2024

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Ethan

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What is serverless architecture? 

Serverless architecture is a cloud-based execution model in which server management is delegated to a cloud-based vendor. The vendor deploys the application automatically in the cloud rather than on virtual machines or physical servers. This eliminates the need for developers to perform server maintenance tasks such as patching, capacity management, and scaling.

In other words, serverless architecture is a method of developing a cloud-based application without the need for server maintenance or scaling.

Serverless does not necessarily imply that no servers are used. The cloud provider is solely responsible for server maintenance and management. The development team uses serverless architecture to break up the server into smaller chunks. This architecture enables you to launch apps as needed… usually paired with a type of event trigger.

What are the benefits of serverless architecture?

In summary, serverless architecture is a far more adaptable and scalable development model than traditional server-based architecture.

The following are the top four advantages of serverless architecture:

Reduces the total cost of ownership – The most obvious advantage of serverless architecture is that a company does not need to own or maintain any servers (security, patching, support contracts, auditing). Furthermore, because the code is deployed on-demand, you only pay for executed and deployed code, resulting in cost savings.

Reduced development time – Building an application is much faster and easier due to your development team only needing to focus on the business logic code. Your development team won’t have to worry about infrastructure upkeep or scaling, and function codes can only do one thing at a time. Because changes are initiated through API calls, updates and upgrades can be deployed quickly without having to (re)deploy the entire application.

Increased scalability – The nature of serverless architecture allows it to scale up and down in response to demand. Any traffic spikes must be managed by the vendors.

Separation of concerns – Encourages best practices in isolating different parts of your business logic into more manageable chunks that can be reused by other systems and understood more clearly across your architectural landscape.

Microservices vs. Containers vs. Serverless

There is often confusion among these three terms.

Microservices

Legacy monolithic software is composed of three major components: the user interface (UI), the database, and the server side application. As a result, there is a single execution pipeline that is dependent on the other to function.

Microservice architecture, on the other hand, is intended to deconstruct individual components that exist within a monolithic structure. The goal is to create a separation of concerns between logical components of the overall service.

The separation of these components has a number of advantages for business and technological outcomes. They provide the ability to scale horizontally, monitor independently, and release quickly. Businesses can improve their services independently of the other units and deploy improvements without causing disruption.

Containers

A container, the most common of which is Docker, is a package containing all of the elements (instructions) required to deploy and host a service.  For example, a container with a basic web server host, a database, and a language VM (.NET or Java) installed, in addition to the application code. This container is then easily deployed into a physical infrastructure, much like virtual machines, and is ideal for parallel scaling. Furthermore, many cloud providers offer ways for you to orchestrate and manage hundreds or thousands of these containers at once.

Serverless

Serverless can be seen as an evolution of container methodology. The primary distinction is in the configuration and deployment of supporting services—the container is prebuilt for you, and your only concern is deploying your own application code. Cloud providers such as AWS and Azure are essentially a managed container environment. This enables the developer to concentrate solely on the business logic component.

Serverless computing and containers both allow developers to build applications with far less overhead and greater flexibility than traditional servers or virtual machines. Which architecture style a developer should use depends on the needs of the application, but serverless applications are more scalable and typically less costly.

Conclusion

Serverless refers to the services, practices, and methods that enable you to create more agile apps that can adapt and react to change more quickly. It encourages individuals to worry less about servers by eliminating manual tasks that involve clusters and servers.

Written by Ethan

Cloud Solutions Architect. Full Stack Web Developer. Cloud Enthusiast. Gym rat. I'm a driven, detail oriented, Cloud Solution Architect based in Pittsburgh, PA. Experienced in both networking and software development cycles where I enjoy designing scalable, flexible and cost effective solutions with a focus on end user experience and business objectives. When I'm not working or at the gym I enjoy continuous learning, experimenting with new technologies and sharing what I learned to the communities.

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