How Serverless Computing Works
Jan 17, 2023
Thanks to advancements in cloud computing technology, serverless computing is a possibility for more organizations across more industries. This is great news for everyone involved – businesses, developers, consumers.
Businesses can accelerate innovation and cut down on server management costs. Developers can focus more on the fun stuff, like application development and deployment. And consumers enjoy higher-quality services that improve at a faster rate.
So what’s holding IT leaders back from making the transition? In some cases, fear of the unknown. Handing servers over to another group feels risky. Migrating from on-premises infrastructure and modernizing on the cloud can also be a complex endeavor depending on the applications involved. Additionally, the benefits of going serverless might not be clear, especially to enterprises with limited cloud experience.
In this post, we provide a high-level overview of serverless technology and explain why it’s a major differentiator in the modern era. Then, we dive into specific serverless solutions from Amazon Web Services (AWS) with the goal of showcasing the many IT capabilities you can free up from on-premises hardware and software.
What is Serverless Computing?
Serverless computing refers to a cloud computing approach in which users rely on third-party providers to dynamically allocate machine resources from their own services. Organizations pay only for the computing resources they use without having to manage, provision, or maintain any servers themselves.
In the past, organizations had to maintain their own onsite physical servers in order to host applications. This meant in-house IT teams were responsible for the hardware and software associated with supporting digital services. Companies had to do everything from purchasing hardware and provisioning servers, to managing backups and making configuration changes.
Being responsible for server management has obvious downsides. Scaling up or down takes longer, as teams have to purchase or decommission hardware themselves. It also increases the likelihood that companies pay for unused server capacity or fall short of consumer demand. Another problem is application latency, as applications are delivered directly from origin servers. And releasing new application versions may require manual server updates.
With serverless computing, you can pass all of these responsibilities to an external party. There are still servers involved in serverless computing. But to in-house IT teams, the transition to serverless technology feels akin to getting rid of servers altogether. What’s more, going serverless actually increases server capacity scalability, decreases costs, and enables workflow automation for modern applications.
What Serverless Solutions Does AWS Offer?
AWS has a wide variety of serverless solutions that fall into three categories:
- Application Integration
- Data store
AWS’ serverless compute services include products like AWS Lambda and AWS Fargate. Lambda is an event-driven, pay-as-you-go compute service that enables users to automatically run code for nearly any application without having to deal with servers. Fargate is a similar service designed for containerized applications. The solution frees engineers up from having to provision compute and memory resources, isolate apps in virtual machines, and more.
On the application integration side, solutions like Amazon EventBridge and AWS Step Functions provide serverless event bus and container orchestration services, respectively. With EventBridge, handling events across various sources is much easier. And AWS Step Functions gives engineers a visual tool for sequencing events between many applications.
AWS’ data store solutions include products like Amazon EFS and Amazon Aurora Serverless. Amazon EFS is a serverless and elastic file system, and Aurora Serverless is a cloud-based relational database that can scale seamlessly based on demand.
Beyond these serverless tools, there are many others that eliminate the pain points of dealing with servers while maintaining modern applications. Knowing which ones are best suited to your unique requirements is the hard part. But once the right infrastructure is in place, next-gen technologies, like AI/ML, IoT, and big data analytics become much more accessible.
Go Serverless with AWS and ClearScale
At ClearScale, we believe deeply in the value of serverless technology. Cloud services providers like AWS are more than capable of taking on the hard work of managing servers. In most cases, it doesn’t make sense anymore for in-house teams to invest their time, money, and energy into keeping servers up and running.
We’ve written extensively about how serverless computing unlocks business agility. Check out our case studies to read more about how we’ve helped customers leverage serverless tools and solutions on the AWS cloud. When you’re ready, we’d love to help you think through a possible transition to serverless architecture.
As an AWS Premier Tier Services Partner with over a decade of cloud experience, we know what it takes to adopt serverless technology. And just as important, we know what serverless solutions to recommend to help you achieve your most ambitious goals.