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On Software Engineering Daily, we have been covering the “serverless” movement in detail. For people who don’t use serverless functions, it seems like a niche. Serverless functions are stateless, auto-scaling, event driven blobs of code. You might say “serverless sounds kind of cool, but why don’t I just use a server? It’s a paradigm I’m used to.”
Serverless is exciting not because of what it adds but because of what it subtracts. The potential of serverless technology is to someday not have to worry about scalability at all.
Today, we take for granted that if you start a new company, you are building it on cloud infrastructure. The problem of maintaining server hardware disappeared for 99% of startups, which unlocked a wealth of innovation.
The cloud also simplified scalability for most startups–but there are still plenty of companies that struggle to scale. Significant mental energy is spent on the following questions: How many database replicas do I need? How do I configure my load balancer? How many nodes should I put in my Kafka cluster?
Serverless functions are important because they are an auto-scaling component that sits at a low level. This makes it easy to build auto scaling systems on top of them. Auto scaling databases, queueing systems, machine learning tools, and user applications.
And since the problem is being solved at such a low level, the pricing competitions will also take place at the low level, meaning that systems built on serverless functions will probably see steep declines in costs in the coming years. Serverless compute could eventually become free or nearly free, with the major cloud providers using it as a loss leader to onboard developers to higher level services.
All of this makes for an exciting topic of discussion, that we will be repeatedly covering. Today’s show is with Eduardo Laureano, the principal program manager of Azure Functions. It was a fantastic conversation and we covered applications of serverless, improvements to the “cold start problem,” and how the Azure Functions platform is built and operated. Full disclosure: Microsoft is a sponsor of Software Engineering Daily.
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