31-03-2021

Serverless: what is it and what to use it for?

Serverless is a new concept that is increasingly widespread due to the advantages it offers. In this new blog post we will tell you what's new and reveal the advantages that Serverless services offer.
Serverless: what is it and what to use it for? background

What is a server?

A server is a computer or a set of computers equipped with software capable of receiving requests from other machines and giving them a response in accordance with their request.

Having a server means hiring it, which entails maintenance, uptime and resource costs. These costs will have to be borne continuously regardless of whether this server is receiving requests or is idle.

Serverless?

The term Serverless, although we can translate it as “no server”, does not mean that a physical server is not needed but rather that the server is no longer important to us as developers.

Our code, organised into functions, will run in an execution environment. This execution environment is started at the moment our function is invoked and ceases to exist immediately after the execution of the code.

If the function is to be executed repeatedly, the provider is responsible for generating as many execution environments as necessary.

Most popular Serverless services

Among all the Serverless services we can highlight the following among the many existing ones:

  • AWS Lambda : This service belongs to Amazon, is the best known and has support for languages such as Pyhton, Go, Java, C# or Node.js. One of the best known companies using this service is Netflix.
  • Azure Functions : It is Microsoft’s serverless service and supports languages such as C#, Javascript, F#, Java, Poweshell, Python or Typescript.
  • Google Cloud Functions : Owned by Google, only Javarscript code can be used to run in a Node.js, Python or Go environment.

Benefits of Serverless

Serverless functions are easy to use when no status needs to be stored in memory. This is because we do not control when execution environments are created or destroyed and, therefore, we cannot assume that storing data in the function’s memory it will remain when the function is invoked again.

Some of the benefits of using Serverless are as follows:

  • Less management and maintenance**: We will develop the code knowing that it will use the execution environment we have described, which is independent of updates, software installation, or managing access ports, among other things.
  • Pay-as-you-go: We will only pay for the time it takes to perform our functions.
  • Easily scalable: The system can be scaled horizontally as much as you need it to be. It grows and shrinks according to usage and allows you to add all the clusters, load balancing, etc., as you need it.

Success stories: World Roller Games

At Mecexis we have first-hand knowledge of Serverless services and we implement them in those projects that benefit from their use as is the case of the World Roller Games.

For this project, an API was developed, which collected information from different live competitions, such as calendars, participants, rankings, results, and medals, and instantly responded to requests from the official website and widgets that our team also developed.

The choice of this service for this project resulted in significant savings for the client as there was no need to contract servers to support a high volume of requests. The server used grew and shrank according to the number of API requests. In addition, using Serverless gave us a plus in terms of stability as we were able to guarantee that the service would be operational at all times.

Conclusion

Serverless services, although referred to as “no server”, does not mean that no physical server is required but rather that the server becomes a less visible part of the system.

Serverless services include AWS Lambda, Azure Functions and Google Cloud Functions.

The benefits of this service are less management and maintenance, pay-as-you-go, and ease of scalability.

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