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A mobile or web application doesn’t consist only of a colourful user interface or interactive elements. Besides frontend, every app has a backend layer, where the advanced magic happens – among servers, network connections, or databases.
Maintaining an entire system, its every element, may be costly and time-consuming. But what if you would delegate backend work to a service provider and focus only on writing code?
Let us introduce you to the serverless concept.
What is serverless computing?
Serverless is a cloud-native development model that enables you to build and develop apps without server maintenance. You create the business logic, which is executed in a serverless environment with none of your efforts. A service provider – e.g., Google with Google Cloud Platform – covers the whole backend side. The management of physical or virtual machines, databases, load balancing, capacity provisioning or security patching is done automatically.
Serverless computing lets you create innovative, scalable applications. A cloud environment ensures flexibility, so you can rapidly introduce changes in the app, roll out new features or roll back previous versions. That leads to lower maintenance costs and a faster time to market.
Does serverless lack servers?
The term “serverless architecture” may suggest that there are no servers at all. That’s not true. Of course, there is an underlying physical infrastructure, but you don’t have to deal with it. There’s no need to set up instances or databases, update operating systems, or scale up and down. In serverless architecture, the service provider is responsible for all infrastructure management – both hardware and software.
How much can you save by using serverless services?
When it comes to the cloud-costs topic, you should remember one thing – do not look only at an amount on the bill. It would be best if you considered the total cost of ownership (abbrev. TCO). A total cost of ownership is an indicator that includes visible fees – like the service price – and hidden costs – like person-hours. How much time do your SysOps specialists spend on infrastructure maintenance, and how much on innovation development? With serverless services, you can delegate the infrastructure upkeep to the service provider and move the in-house workforce to the development. That will translate into faster growth or/and lower costs.
One of the main differences between hosting or VPS infrastructure and the cloud-based serverless solution is the billing method. In the services mentioned above, you have fixed prices, paid upfront for the whole month. On the other hand, in the cloud, you pay only for what you use. You are billed on a minute, sometimes even on a second-basis. Cloud-based services scale up (to ensure application high availability) and down (to reduce costs in low-demand periods). For example, App Engine, a serverless service available on Google Cloud Platform, can scale down to zero instances, meaning you don’t have to pay anything when your application is not in use.
And comparing serverless to on-premise infrastructure? Having an own server room involves large investments in hardware, keeping proper conditions (i.a., temperature, cooling, air humidity), spending person-hours on maintenance work and building infrastructure solutions. While in the cloud, you have access to advanced features and services that run on-demand; and you don’t have to bother with dusting servers or untangling cables.
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Is serverless a startup-only solution?
There is a belief that a serverless architecture would work only in cloud-native companies, startups, or projects that are just about to launch. And yes, they would probably gain the most from serverless solutions; but benefits aren’t reserved only for them.
An established firm with its infrastructure can use serverless services to provide upscaling to the cloud in case of increased demand. The same company can take advantage of serverless solutions to create a proof of concept or develop projects in the R&D department. The services can also be used to implement infrastructure management mechanisms (e.g., automatically shutting down indicated processes in case of extending the cloud budget). The company – that is not cloud-native nor startup – can create a serverless-based application for internal use. Just like Barilla did.
Barilla is hard to call a startup; rather, it should be called the world’s leading pasta producer. The company has factories in 10 countries, offices in 17 territories, and thousands of employees worldwide. To improve internal communication – especially on the production line between shifts – Barilla developed an application for taking and synchronizing information about events, accidents, or other relevant memos. The app’s serverless architecture enabled the IT team to rapidly roll out new features, make updates visible in real-time on employees’ devices, or ensure scalability to meet current demand.
- 15 reasons to create and develop a startup with Google Cloud solutions
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Serverless computing on Google Cloud Platform
Google is one of the most popular cloud providers with serverless solutions in its services portfolio. On Google Cloud Platform, you can find:
- App Engine – a managed platform that lets you pick a language you’re most comfortable with and deploy it to the GCP infrastructure with only one command;
- Cloud Run – a service that uses stateless HTTPS container images to run the application in the cloud;
- Cloud Functions – a Function as a Service solution that supports multiple programming languages, libraries, and frameworks.
Go serverless with FOTC
Do you see how clear are the benefits of serverless services? Or maybe you’re not sure how your business can take advantage of them? Talk with the Google Cloud partner; get free technical support in a local timezone and a $300 voucher for a great start.