What is a Serverless Architecture and Why it is So Important

Updated: Oct 12, 2018

By Murali Siddavatam (TipoTapp Founder and CTO)

Serverless architecture is the future. OK, but what is it?

I get that question from a lot of colleagues. Even tech-savvy ones.

I think it’s time to clear up what this technology is and why it’s so important – especially to web developers.

The core principle of serverless architecture is that users doesn’t need to manage any servers at all. It’s a straightforward, cloud-based, elastic, as-a-service setup that covers every layer of the user’s infrastructure.

Serverless goes beyond standard cloud services by eliminating not only physical servers but virtual servers and containers as well. The serverless model is based entirely on consumption; hosting the applications and business logic and charging a flat fee based on requests.

Roots of Serverless

In its early days, the term “serverless architecture” was almost synonymous with AWS Lambda. AWS were the originators of the idea and the only ones offering it as a service.

But as the service took off and the concept took root in the industry, it became clear that serverless architecture was way bigger than AWS. Now it seems undeniable that this model will be the new norm for web application development going forward.

What is Serverless?

Unlike traditional cloud architectures, serverless architectures do not require you to provision virtual machines or consistently patch the OS or other OS-level artifacts or server software components.

Instead, backend-as-a-service features let you provision virtual services that logically link up with your development and release management practices. It’s a completely elastic solution that automates and streamlines the development lifecycle of new business applications.

In a serverless architecture, container technology is abstracted away from the actual implementation, allowing you to seamlessly integrate any type of application, developed with any type of code, into your business network.

With serverless architecture:
  • Any programming language can operate out of separate containers and work together, which is a huge boon for developers, CIOs, and, indeed, all IT personnel. (Of course it should be noted that some limitations to the code it can handle put a hamper on running certain workloads. It’s not a panacea yet.)

  • You empower your creators to experiment and explore and you reap the benefits of their efforts much more quickly with shortened development cycles and faster deployment schedules.

  • You pay only when users are actively using your application and you are charged nothing when your application is not in use.

Why Go Serverless?

Because it’s the next logical evolution in the increasingly on-demand, decreasingly centralized pattern of modern IT infrastructure. From mainframe to client-server to cloud to serverless, each iteration has been based around making it easier, safer, faster, and cheaper to design and deploy new digital tools.

Serverless architecture streamlines compatibility, flattens pricing, removes bottlenecks, and opens up new opportunities. Maybe most importantly, it empowers creators and companies to innovate and advance.

That’s why the serverless model will be the new norm for web application development going forward. It is for me.