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Developers can build networked applications today without having to deploy their code to a server. These “serverless” applications are constructed from managed services and functions-as-a-service.
Managed services are cloud offerings like database-as-a-service, queueing-as-a-service, or search-as-a-service. These managed services are easy to use. They take care of operational burdens like scalability and outages. But managed services typically solve a narrow use case. You can’t build an application entirely out of managed services.
Managed services are scalable and narrow. Functions-as-a-service are scalable and flexible.
With managed services, you make remote calls to a service with a well-defined API. With functions-as-a-service, you can deploy your own code. But functions-as-a-service execute against transient, unreliable compute resources. They aren’t a good fit for low latency computation, and the code you run on them should be stateless.
Managed services and functions-as-a-service are the perfect complements.
Managed services provide you with well-defined server abstractions that every application needs—like databases, search indexes, and queues. Functions as a service offer flexible “glue code” that you can use to create custom interactions between the managed services.
The term “serverless” is used to describe the applications that are built entirely with managed services and functions as a service.
Serverless applications are dramatically simpler to build and easier to operate than cloud applications of the past. The costs of managed services can get expensive, but the costs of functions as a service can cost 1/10th of what it might take to run a server that is handling your requests.
Whether the size of your bill will increase or decrease as your company becomes “serverless” is less of an issue than the fact that your employees will be more productive: serverless applications have less operational burden, so developers spend more time architecting and implementing software.
It has been 5 years since the Netflix infrastructure team was talking about the aspirational goal of a “no-ops” software culture. Your software should be so well-defined that you do not need regular intervention of ops staff to reboot your servers and reconfigure your load balancers. Serverless is a newer way of moving operational expense into capital expense.
Today’s guest Randall Hunt is a senior technical evangelist with Amazon Web Services. He travels around the world meeting developers and speaking at conferences about AWS Lambda, the functions as a service platform from Amazon. Randall has given some excellent talks about how to architect and build serverless applications (which I will add to the show notes), and today we explore those application patterns further.
Serverless Services – Randall Hunt
Randall Hunt at AWS Summit Seoul
Serverless, What is it Good For? Randall Hunt
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