WHAT IS SERVERLESS COMPUTING

CloudCloud computing is an internet based technology model that allows users to instantly access, manage and deploy large shared, virtual computing resources.

Large data centers/servers leased or owned by companies located remotely are used for storage, processing, security etc. Due to its flexibility, efficiency, scalability and independence from geographical limitations, more businesses – whether established businesses or small startups – are opting for it.

Traditionally companies invested heavily on IT infrastructure – servers, security, storage, applications, networks etc.- but now by using cloud-service most of this has been shifted to operational costs and hence eliminated capital expenditure.

Cloud computing is a billion dollar, high-growth business; revenue models for cloud services are still evolving, depending on specific services offered. One of those models is elastic pricing or pay-as-you-use as offered first in 2014 by Amazon AWS Lambda. This service is also known as Serverless Computing.

Serverless Computing is uniquely suited to event-driven functions. For example, a remote device which monitors a patient’s heart rate can be triggered in the case of an event to provide emergency notification response to hospital systems.

Serverless computing does not mean doing away with the server – in fact, far from it.

There is a layer of abstraction added between the consumer and the server where they can directly run their code in the cloud without needing to manage the server. Little to no resources are consumed till a request comes in and then the system automatically administers and manages the computing resources required to run and scale the code with high availability as per requirement.

This is cost effective because consumers don’t have to pay for the server space they didn’t use but only for the CPU execution time when the code is running. This also offers advantages to cloud service providers as it gives them the option to cut back on the amount of spare capacity they need to keep available at all times, as fewer resources are being tied up at any given moment.

Event-driven functions in response to automated devices are particularly relevant to the growing area of Internet of Things (IoT).

Internet of Things is a term coined by Kevin Ashton (formerly of Procter & Gamble and later co-founder of the Auto-Id Center) in 1999. It allows smart devices, cars, buildings etc. that are embedded with sensors, actuators and other electronics to collect and store data via network connectivity. IoT creates a cyber-physical system that can manage smart cities, power grids, virtual manufacturing plants and intelligent transportation among others.

According to Cisco IBSG the IoT was actually born in between 2008 and 2009 at simply the point in time when more “things or objects” were connected to the Internet than people.

The annual Gartner Hype Cycle tracks technology life-cycles and as per its 2011 report, IoT hit the Hype Cycle’s “Peak of Inflated Expectations” in 2014. The technology is expected to mature within the next decade. It does have its share of challenges though, like any growing technology such as lack of a uniform platform, privacy concerns, enormity of the data produced etc.

gartner-iot

The IoT has vast applications in many fields such as defense & security, medical & healthcare, urban and rural infrastructure, manufacturing plants, energy management and distribution, building/home automation, transportation, media, entertainment and gaming, marine biology, animal studies and many more. IoT will likely have an event-driven architecture and Serverless Computing is ideally suited for the IoT with the scalability, cost-benefits and resource optimization that it offers.

Some References:

1)” The Next Layer of Abstraction in Cloud Computing is Serverless” – https://read.acloud.guru/iaas-paas-serverless-the-next-big-deal-in-cloud-computing-34b8198c98a2

2)” CLOUD COMPUTING: LEADING FROM THE FRONT” –  https://www.cloudtweaks.com/2012/03/cloud-computing-leading-from-the-front-part-1/

3)” How serverless computing is turning the cloud on its head” – http://www.cbronline.com/news/cloud/serverless-computing-turning-cloud-head/

4)” What serverless computing really means” – http://www.infoworld.com/article/3093508/cloud-computing/what-serverless-computing-really-means.html

5) “The serverless cloud could swallow up hardware” –  http://www.datacenterdynamics.com/content-tracks/colo-cloud/the-serverless-cloud-could-swallow-up-hardware/98120.fullarticle

 

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