Trends Affecting Digital Infrastructure & Operations: Serverless Computing

As cloud computing continues to become more popular, many organizations are becoming more comfortable giving up the management responsibilities of their infrastructure. As this trend continues to develop, it’s only a matter of time before serverless computing becomes the next big thing. As a setup invisible to developers, the only determinations required are defining the code that needs to run. Once initiated, a serverless platform runs the code with the necessary provisioning behind the scenes.

To run a serverless computing setup, organizations will need to invest in a broad set of technology.  For this reason, many will partner with a functional platform as a service (fPaaS). With fPaaS, custom application logic filled with fine-grained units is packaged as a set of functions that can be executed by event triggers. With this setup, a provider will support provisioning and scaling, in addition to the functions provided as a service.

One important aspect to keep in mind when considering serverless computing is that the technology is aimed primarily at small payloads as opposed to resource-intensive applications.  As speed is critical, serverless computing is a poor replacement for existing containers or virtual machines.  However, there are a few instances in which serverless computing makes sense, such as simple back end tasks and when linking two processes together.  Regardless of the process, security should still be a priority at all times.

Determining whether or not serverless computing can benefit an organization requires extensive research and careful planning.  Likewise, the process requires a general ability to write code, meaning it’s not available to all engineers.  Cloud architectures provide similar benefits to the potential promised by serverless computing.  Any organization considering adding serverless computing to an existing server environment should start with a small pilot to learn the advantages and pitfalls of this technology.