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What Are Serverless Applications?

Mohammed NaserMohammed Naser

Serverless applications and related architecture are gaining a lot of buzz from the tech industry. Here is a basic overview of the technology. Read on.

Serverless applications and related architecture are gaining a lot of buzz from the tech industry. Regardless of their stature and experience within the industry, techies discuss these applications and want to know more about how they can benefit enterprises in advancing with the cloud.

In this context, here is a basic overview of serverless applications.

Defining Serverless Applications

First of all, 'serverless' is a misnomer. This model does not do away with servers at all. It is just that the user or enterprise isn't the one handling the server, that's all.

In basic cloud computing, the cloud provider takes care of the infrastructure needs of the user. In such Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) models, the provider is responsible for everything from server setup to management. Serverless applications are similar to this model, except that it comes under the category of Function-as-a-Service (FaaS) rather than IaaS.

In such a model, developers are not concerned with server related tasks such as planning, configuration, operation, scaling, etc. The developer's only task is writing the code, and everything else is taken care of by the provider. Auto-scaling is also another feature available with the serverless architecture model.

Nature of Functions and Use cases

As mentioned earlier, serverless applications are comparatively new entrants. Furthermore, these functions are defined as stateless, as the state is created once the execution begins and destroyed once it ends. The functions are also event-driven, meaning that you need an event such as a REST API request to occur before executing the function.

Serverless computing is seen as a way to simplify code deployment into production. Examples of use cases include data processing, IoT services, and creating APIs for pre-built applications without modifying existing functionalities. It can also be used with traditional style code-deployments such as microservices or monoliths.

Challenges Faced by Serverless Models

Serverless applications and FaaS is still seen as in their developing stages. Hence, there are a lot of challenges they have to overcome. Let us take a look at some of these challenges.

The lack of available technologies is a major challenge faced by FaaS models. As of now, it has even fewer supported technologies than PaaS or SaaS models. Another significant challenge is that code written for a specific FaaS might not transfer well to another - it has to be rewritten partially, at least, for the architecture to function properly.


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