What is Serverless & How Does It Work?

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For nearly as long as businesses have been using computing as part of their internal operations, servers have also been used. Servers provided everything businesses needed in terms of IT, whilst ensuring the safety and security of the organization. The client-server model of architecture has been used since the 1960s – so more than half a century, now.

But with today’s era of cloud computing, and the internet, a new type of infrastructure has emerged in the business world, known as serverless computing. While the name might be slightly misleading (we’ll get to that later), serverless computing is a major shake-up for traditional ideas about how businesses set up their IT infrastructure. Serverless computing is very closely linked to Cloud computing, as it enables businesses to work without having to manage – or even interact with – servers. The Cloud is becoming more and more ubiquitous with modern business. For example, the IT managed services London-based provider, TechQuarters, offers utilizes Cloud computing, and TechQuarters themselves were early adopters of the Cloud when it first became a viable commercial business solution.

Servers

Servers are not dissimilar to the types of personal computers that people use every day at work. They have similar internal storage capacities, similar processing units, and similar amounts of RAM. The difference is that servers are usually setup to fulfill one, or just a few specific functions – compared with a PC, that is setup to be able to the thousands of smaller functions that allow people to browse the internet, stream videos and music, and use a wide range of applications simultaneously.

Today, servers are commonly used for running the various applications needed to run a business’ IT infrastructure. There are so many applications that we don’t think twice about accessing over the internet – such as search engines, video streaming apps, and even business applications like Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) but all of these applications wouldn’t be accessible via the web without servers.

What is more, businesses that have an office usually don’t connect directly to the internet, they will have what is called an intranet, which is much safer in terms of filtering out malicious or suspicious activity on a network. In these scenarios, you will also find servers being used and, again, they will be running various applications as well.

What is Serverless Computing?

As mentioned above, most large businesses use servers to run applications needed for their IT infrastructure. But, with serverless computing, the end-user never sees, uses, or otherwise interacts with servers at all. The responsibility of maintaining and managing servers is entirely on the service provider – examples of providers that offer serverless computing includes Google, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft Azure.

The primary application of serverless computing is with the development of applications. Traditionally, development teams would have to take many things into consideration that weren’t directly related to the development of software, or the way in which the final product would work. What is more, traditional development platforms were specific to certain software languages. None of this is a problem with serverless – it makes it easier for developers to write in languages they know best; it makes it easier to deploy applications when they are finished.

Overall, serverless computing is one of the many examples of Cloud-based innovations that are shaking up the way businesses build and use applications.

The Cloud

Without the Cloud, the serverless execution model would not be viable. The Cloud refers to the global network of servers that create virtual platforms, many of which we access every day (social media, for instance, is powered using the Cloud) and which enable us to access resources without needing to physical access the hardware that houses those resources.

There are many Cloud service providers in the world. These service providers have their own networks of servers, usually in the form of datacenters – massive stacks of computing units not so different from personal computers, but which are linked together, and optimized to fulfill a specific process.

At the most basic level, the Cloud requires a type of software known as a Hypervisor to virtualize the resources on a computer – in other words, it creates a digital-only version of the hardware that can be accessed over the internet. Have you ever wondered how you are able to store photos on your phone ‘in the Cloud’? Your service provider will have massive storage arrays that are virtualized, meaning you can literally send your files to the virtual storage environment.

Cloud Service Providers often have platforms they have built that enable customers to access all kinds of products and services. For example, Microsoft’s line of applications known as Microsoft Office can be used on web browsers thanks to the Cloud, the Microsoft has their own Cloud platform known as Microsoft Azure, which offers a range of development and hosting services for business customers. Microsoft Azure utilizes datacenters full of servers in order to provide their services to business all over the world, remotely. TechQuarters, as an IT services company London businesses trust for IT advice, recommends Cloud services, especially for small businesses – because the offerings of Cloud services far outstrip what many businesses can afford to build themselves.

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