What Is Serverless Computing?

Evolution in Computing Models

  • In 2009: Heroku, popularized Platform as a Service, enabling a containerized 12-factor application via a buildpack
  • In 2010: OpenStack brought together an extraordinary diverse group of vendors to create an open source infrastructure as a service
  • In 2011: CloudFoundary, an open source PaaS, along with similar tools, helped accelerate DevOps movement by supporting continuous delivery over the entire application development lifecycle. Cloud Foundry’s container-based architecture ran apps in any programming language over a variety of cloud service providers
  • And in 2013: Docker (combined LCX, Union file system and cgroups) created a containerization standard which became an instant hit among the developer community

Serverless Key Challenges

  • Capacity planning is not trivial. Infrastructure engineers still need to plan ahead for computing resource utilization, such as how many or what size or machine types would need to be configured (CPU, memory and networking or I/O bandwidth requirements). Overestimation can lead to increased costs, and underestimation could hurt the business.
  • Machine level auto scaling is cumbersome. In some instances, it may take several minutes to scale out. Management of real time auto-scaling and load balancing takes a lot of planning effort.
  • And similar challenges exist around fault tolerance, operations and maintenance.

Serverless Computing

  • Serverless Computing enables Simplified DevOps One of the key advantages of serverless technology is that it enables us to build and run applications and services without thinking about servers. With serverless computing, provisioning, scaling, and management of server details are no longer necessary. Developers can forget about the management of the infrastructure over which the service is executed and concentrate on building business functionality. Serverless can be applied to nearly any type of application or backend service.
  • The second advantage of serverless is that it is perfectly suited for microservices based architecture. It also provides us with high level of decoupling between the different services, favoring the development of architectures based on microservices. This greatly facilitates the development of architectures based on continuous rollouts, in addition to simplifying the rollbacks, as needed.
  • Third, Serverless technology enables metered billing and we only pay for resources that are actually consumed. Extending that to cost of computing, with serverless computing, we pay only for the computing resources that are actually used. This usually ends up in much lower costs than traditional computing methods.
  • High availability becomes automated and built in

Introducing Alibaba Cloud Function Compute

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