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What is serverless?

In the ever-changing world of technology, it can be hard to keep up. One term you might have heard a lot is “serverless.” But what does it mean? And what are its benefits?

Today, only 35% of people in the field are not somehow using serverless platforms. And with major players in the tech business using serverless technology, it's bound to continue expanding.

This guide will break down everything you need to know about serverless computing, including how it works and some of its benefits.

Keep reading to discover the power of this computing technology.

Serverless defined

In the simplest terms, serverless computing is a way to run code without worrying about servers.

In the past, if you wanted to run code, you would need to set up and maintain your physical server (or cluster of servers). But maintaining servers requires hiring expensive engineers to keep everything running. With serverless computing, all of that is taken care of for you. You upload your code and let someone else worry about the infrastructure.

How serverless computing works

There are a few different ways to achieve serverless computing, but the most popular is through something called “functions as a service” (FaaS).

For your code to run on a FaaS platform, such as Oracle, you first need to create a function. A function is a small piece of code that will execute in response to an event. For example, if you're building a photo-sharing website, you might have a function that runs every time someone uploads a new photo.

Once you've created your function, you need to deploy it to a FaaS platform. This is usually done using the command line or an IDE plugin. After your process deploys, it's ready to run. When someone triggers the event (for example, by uploading a new photo), your function will execute, eliminating the need to set up and manage servers.

Many different FaaS platforms are available, each with its own set of features and pricing options. Oracle is one of the most popular platforms.

Benefits of serverless architecture

One of the main benefits of a serverless architecture is that you no longer need to worry about servers. A lack of servers can be a massive relief for small businesses and solo developers who don't have the time or resources to manage their infrastructure.

Another significant benefit is scalability. With traditional hosting, you need to plan for peak traffic times and make sure you have enough servers to handle the load. With serverless architecture, this is all taken care of for you. The FaaS platform scales your function up or down as needed, saving you a lot of money in the long run.

One of the most appealing aspects of serverless computing is its pay-as-you-go pricing model. With traditional hosting, you need to pay for a certain amount of resources whether you use them or not. But with serverless architecture, you only pay for the resources your function uses. If your business has irregular or unpredictable traffic patterns, you’ll see significant savings.

What are serverless containers?

Serverless containers are containers deployed to a FaaS platform. These containers allow you to package your code and dependencies into a single unit, making it easy to deploy and manage your function.

Serverless containers have a few benefits over traditional functions. First, they allow you to include non-code dependencies (such as libraries or frameworks) in your process. Non-code dependencies are helpful if you're using a language that doesn't have good support for packaging code (such as Golang). Second, serverless containers can make it easier to create complex serverless functions. If you need to use multiple languages or run numerous processes, serverless containers can make this much easier to manage.

While serverless containers offer some benefits, they're not suitable for every situation. First, they can be more expensive than traditional functions—you're paying for the container runtime as well as the process itself. Second, serverless containers can be more challenging to debug and troubleshoot. If something goes wrong, you might have a more difficult time figuring out what happened.

So should you use serverless containers? It depends on your needs. If you're building a simple function, a traditional function will suffice. But if you're building a complex application or need the flexibility of a container, serverless containers might be a better choice.

Serverless computing vs. cloud computing

The first generation of cloud computing allowed companies to rent offsite server space, with the vendor being responsible for all the server space and infrastructure.

However, vendors can't predict traffic spikes for clients, and because they charge clients for going over their data limits, a spike in traffic can be a costly event.

To decrease the risk of an outage or surcharge due to a traffic spike, most companies purchase a margin of extra server space. This space sits idle most of the time, resulting in additional costs for the client. It also means a lot of unused capacity in the server world.

Serverless computing solves this problem by billing clients based on actual usage. This is like switching from a flat-fee water bill to one that charges you based on how much water you use. It's also known as pay-as-you-go.

Developers appreciate being able to focus on front-end development. Companies save money and gain efficiency. And automatic scaling is easier too. Under the right conditions, it's a win-win solution.

What are the advantages of serverless computing?

We've already talked about some of the benefits of serverless computing. It's more cost-effective for smaller businesses. Let's take a closer look at some of the advantages.

No servers required

One of the main benefits of a serverless framework is that you no longer need to worry about servers. Not worrying about servers is a massive relief for small businesses and solo developers who don't have the time or resources to manage their infrastructure.

Automatic scalability

With traditional hosting, you need to plan for peak traffic times and make sure you have enough servers to handle the load. With serverless architecture, this is all taken care of for you. The FaaS platform scales your function up or down as needed.

Pay-as-you-go pricing

Perhaps one of the most appealing aspects of serverless computing is its pay-as-you-go pricing model. With traditional hosting, you need to pay for a certain amount of resources whether you use them or not. With serverless architecture, you pay only for the resources your function uses.

Flexible configuration

Another advantage of serverless computing is its flexibility. Traditional hosting limits what's available on the platform, but with FaaS platforms, you have more control over how your function behaves. You can choose the language(s) you want to use, the dependencies you need, and even the runtime environment.

Serverless vs. PaaS vs. IaaS

So how does serverless architecture compare to other types of hosting? Each has its specific advantages and disadvantages.

PaaS

Platform as a service (PaaS) is a category of cloud computing that provides a platform for developing and deploying applications. PaaS platforms typically offer everything you need to start, including the runtime environment, libraries, and frameworks.


Which one is right for you? It depends on your needs and experience level. If you're a beginner, PaaS might be the best option. But if you're an experienced developer, IaaS might be a better fit.

Serverless architecture sits somewhere in between these two options. It provides some of the benefits of PaaS and IaaS, and it’s a good choice for businesses that need more flexibility than what's available with PaaS but don't want to manage all the details themselves.

What’s next for serverless?

The serverless landscape is constantly changing as the features and capabilities of existing platforms evolve. So what does the future hold for serverless computing?

Some experts predict that serverless will eventually overtake PaaS and IaaS as the preferred choice for cloud services. Others believe that serverless will become a standard feature of PaaS and IaaS platforms. And still others think that serverless will remain a niche solution for specific use cases.

One thing, however, is certain: The future of serverless applications looks very bright. As more businesses discover the benefits of this approach to cloud computing, we can expect to see even more adoption in the years to come.