What is Serverless Computing? The Complete Definition for Beginners

Serverless computing has gained considerable recognition among developers and IT professionals in recent years. According to a report from Transparency Market Research, the market for serverless computing is projected to reach a valuation of $18.04 billion by 2024. This innovative approach to computing allows organizations to focus on building applications and services without worrying about server provisioning, scaling, and management. The purpose of this glossary is to present a comprehensive understanding of serverless computing, its benefits, use cases, best practices, and recommended resources.

“Serverless computing is the next stage of abstraction, where developers shift their focus from containers, infrastructure, and servers to just focusing on their applications and data.” – Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft

What is serverless computing? Definition of Serverless

Serverless computing is a cloud-based service model that allows developers to build and deploy applications without the need to manage or provision any servers. In this model, the cloud provider automatically handles underlying infrastructure and scaling, allowing developers to focus only on writing the code for their applications. Despite its name, serverless computing does involve servers, but the responsibility for managing servers falls upon the cloud provider, making them “invisible” to the developer.

ℹ️ Synonyms: function-as-a-service, FaaS, event-driven computing, compute-as-a-service, on-demand computing

How it Works

In a serverless computing model, your application is composed of individual functions or services that are triggered by events, such as user actions or predetermined schedules. These functions are hosted and executed within a cloud provider’s infrastructure. The cloud provider automatically allocates resources based on demand, ensuring that your application is scalable without any manual intervention. This model allows you to pay only for the execution time of your functions, rather than paying for pre-allocated resources.

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Benefits of Using Serverless Computing

  • Cost reduction: With serverless computing, you only pay for the resources you consume, which means you no longer need to pay for pre-allocated resources and maintenance.
  • Increased scalability: Because cloud providers automatically handle scaling, serverless applications are well-suited for unexpected surges in traffic and can easily handle a high number of users.
  • Improved developer productivity: By eliminating the need to manage servers and infrastructure, developers can focus on writing code and rapidly deploying new features and updates.
  • Faster time-to-market: The serverless model allows you to test and deploy applications more quickly, giving you a competitive edge in the market.
  • Reduced operational complexity: The cloud provider takes care of infrastructure management, reducing the complexity of your IT environment and improving overall system reliability.

Serverless Computing Use Cases

Serverless computing can be applied to a variety of use cases:

  1. Data processing: Serverless functions can be used for real-time data processing, analyzing, and transforming data for applications such as analytics, monitoring, or recommendation systems.
  2. API development: Building a serverless API enables resilient and scalable backend services for web and mobile applications.
  3. Chatbots and AI: Serverless computing can provide a scalable backend for intelligent chatbots and AI-driven systems.
  4. Internet of Things (IoT): With its event-driven nature, serverless computing is an ideal solution for processing data from IoT devices.
  5. Microservices: Serverless functions can act as modular units in a microservice architecture, simplifying the development of complex applications.

Code Examples

const AWS = require('aws-sdk');
const { v4: uuidv4 } = require('uuid');

// Initialize the AWS S3 client
const s3 = new AWS.S3();

// Lambda function handler (triggered by API Gateway)
exports.handler = async (event) => {

  try {
    // Generate a unique file name
    const fileName = uuidv4() + '.txt';
    const fileContent = 'This is a sample file uploaded to S3 using Serverless Computing';

    // Set the S3 upload parameters
    const params = {
      Bucket: 'my-serverless-bucket', // Replace with your bucket name
      Key: fileName,
      Body: fileContent,
      ContentType: 'text/plain'
    };

    // Upload the file to S3
    await s3.upload(params).promise();

    // Create the API Gateway response object
    const response = {
      statusCode: 200,
      body: JSON.stringify({ 
        success: true, 
        message: 'File uploaded!', 
        fileName: fileName 
      }),
    };

    return response;
  } catch (error) {

    // Create the error response object
    const errorResponse = {
      statusCode: 500,
      body: JSON.stringify({
        success: false,
        message: error.message,
      }),
    };

    return errorResponse;
  }
};

Best Practices

To make the most of serverless computing, it’s crucial to adopt a series of best practices that include adopting a function-first mindset, leveraging the right services and tools provided by your cloud provider, securing your applications, monitoring and optimizing performance, and ensuring cost-effective resource utilization. When designing your applications, it’s important to think in an event-driven manner and develop clear and modular functions that can be easily extended or updated. Regularly reviewing and optimizing your infrastructure and codebase will help reduce costs and keep your applications running smoothly.

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Most Recommended Books about Serverless Computing

For those who want to delve deeper into serverless computing, a few recommended reads include:

  1. Serverless Architectures on AWS by Peter Sbarski
  2. AWS Lambda in Action by Danilo Poccia
  3. Serverless Applications with Node.js by Slobodan Stojanović and Aleksandar Simović
  4. Azure Serverless Computing Cookbook by Praveen Kumar Sreeram
  5. Google Cloud Functions in Action by Romin Irani

Conclusion

Serverless computing provides a powerful and flexible approach for developing and deploying applications without the need for managing servers. By leveraging this technology, businesses and developers can achieve cost savings, scalability, and faster time-to-market. Understanding serverless computing concepts, use cases, and best practices is essential for making the most of this paradigm and applying it to your projects.

Tagged as

aws, beginners, cloud, computing, definition

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Back in 2013, I founded Echo with the simple business idea: "Connect great tech companies around the globe with the brightest software engineers in Eastern Europe." We've employed hundreds of talents so far and keep going.
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li-url Lou Reverchuk

IT Entrepreneur

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