Serverless computing doesn’t actually mean computing without servers; serverless computing is really a hosted computing environment (where you don’t need to use your own servers), and it generally falls under the umbrella of cloud computing. It is typically a smaller unit of computing with functions, as opposed to containers with services.
While serverless solutions vary from platform to platform, there are a few common characteristics:
- Functions are stateless and ephemeral in serverless solutions – the functions are triggered by an event, followed by an execution of the function, and then the release of all resources. Any state information would be stored by external systems.
- Like many shared environments, serverless solutions generally operate via cold starts, where environments and resources need to be constructed on first execution.
- Because it is a shared environment, no file system access is provided in serverless solutions.
With more websites moving entirely to the cloud, serverless computing offers capabilities to address a variety of challenges for these websites. These capabilities include microservices, data processing (including IoT), and providing a mechanism to integrate legacy systems. Serverless computing can also be an efficient way to connect hybrid solutions together, from on-premise to the cloud.
Akamai customers using serverless computing report these top benefits consistently:
- Scale: Let the serverless platform manage for scale, especially peak demand
- Cost: Avoid the build-out for peak demands, so you aren’t paying for idle resources
- Productivity: Teams don’t have to manage the underlying environments and can focus on more strategic efforts
The relationship between serverless computing and edge computing
The Edge is typically defined as the point where users enter the internet from their mobile or home networks. Like content delivery solutions that move data closer to users, edge computing moves critical processing closer to users.
The combination of edge computing and content delivery networks using serverless functions provides the ideal solution for developers to create faster web experiences. This combination moves critical parts of the application logic closer to users by deploying them on hundreds or thousands of servers globally, so you get the best of edge computing and the best of serverless computing.