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What is Serverless Architecture?


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December 07, 2023

Serverless Architecture


Despite the name, serverless architecture doesn't mean there are no servers involved. Servers are still very much the backbone of cloud computing, but with serverless architecture, developers no longer need to worry about their management or maintenance. Serverless architecture, also known as Function-as-a-Service (FaaS), is a cloud computing execution model where the cloud provider manages the allocation and provisioning of servers, freeing developers from having to manage infrastructure. Developers simply write and deploy code, while the cloud provider takes care of provisioning, scaling, and managing the underlying servers. The cloud provider handles all of the server-related tasks, allowing developers to focus on writing and deploying code. Let’s delve into the basic things you must know about serverless architecture.

Key Components of Serverless Architecture

Serverless architecture is built on a few key components that work together to provide a seamless and scalable development environment. These components include:

1. Functions

Functions are the fundamental building blocks of serverless applications. They are self-contained pieces of code that encapsulate a specific business logic and are triggered by events. Functions are typically short-lived and stateless, meaning they do not maintain any persistent data between executions. This makes them highly scalable and efficient, as they can be spun up and down on demand based on traffic patterns.

2. Events

Events are the triggers that activate serverless functions. They represent occurrences that signal the need to execute a particular function. Events can be generated from a variety of sources, including:

  • HTTP requests: Incoming HTTP requests from web applications or APIs trigger serverless functions to handle user interactions or API calls.
  • Data changes: Changes in data storage, such as updates to a database or file system, can trigger serverless functions to perform data processing, analysis, or notifications.
  • Messages from other applications: Messages sent from other applications or services can make serverless functions to perform tasks like data exchange or workflow orchestration.

3. Cloud Provider

The cloud provider is the infrastructure behind serverless architecture. It provides the servers, storage, and networking resources that run serverless applications. Cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP), offer serverless platforms that allow developers to deploy and manage serverless functions. These platforms provide the necessary tools and services to handle event routing, function execution, and resource allocation.

4. API Gateway

An API gateway serves as the central entry point for applications to interact with serverless functions. It acts as a traffic controller, routing incoming requests to the appropriate functions based on predefined rules and configurations. The API gateway also provides security features, such as authentication and authorization, to protect the backend functions from unauthorized access.

5. Backend Storage

Backend storage systems, such as databases and file systems, provide persistent data storage for serverless applications. Serverless functions can interact with these storage systems to retrieve, update, and manage data required for their operations. Backend storage options include NoSQL databases, relational databases, and object storage.

6. Monitoring and Logging

Monitoring and logging are essential aspects of serverless architecture for ensuring the health, performance, and security of applications. Monitoring tools provide real-time insights into function execution, resource utilisation, and error rates. Logging mechanisms capture detailed logs of function executions, event triggers, and error messages, enabling developers to troubleshoot issues and identify potential problems.

7. Security

Security is a critical consideration in serverless architecture, as applications are distributed across the cloud provider's infrastructure. Cloud providers offer various security features, such as identity and access management (IAM), encryption, and network security controls, to protect serverless applications from unauthorized access, data breaches, and cyberattacks.

Importance of Serverless Architecture

Serverless architecture offers several compelling benefits for developers and businesses, including:

1. Reduced Operational Complexity

Serverless architecture significantly reduces the operational complexity associated with traditional cloud-based applications. Developers are no longer responsible for provisioning, managing, and scaling servers, as these tasks are handled by the cloud provider. This eliminates the need for extensive infrastructure expertise and frees up developers to focus on writing and deploying code.

2. Cost-Effectiveness

It employs a pay-as-you-go model, where businesses only pay for the resources they consume, which contrasts with traditional cloud models, where resources are allocated in advance, even during periods of low traffic. Serverless architecture is particularly cost-effective for applications with unpredictable traffic patterns, as resources can scale up or down dynamically based on demand.

3. Scalability

Serverless applications are inherently scalable, automatically adjusting to handle any amount of traffic without manual intervention. The cloud provider's infrastructure seamlessly scales up or down the resources allocated to serverless functions based on real-time traffic patterns. This ensures that applications can handle sudden spikes in demand without performance degradation or downtime.

4. Agility and Developer Focus

By abstracting away infrastructure management tasks, serverless architecture allows developers to focus on writing and deploying code, significantly accelerating development cycles. Developers can spend more time on the core logic and functionality of the application, rather than managing servers and infrastructure, which enhances agility and enables faster time-to-market for new features and applications.

5. Event-Driven Programming Model

It promotes event-driven programming, where applications react to specific events rather than continuously processing data. This model simplifies application design and development, as functions are triggered only when necessary, optimizing resource utilization and reducing costs.

6. Reduced Maintenance Overhead

It eliminates the need for ongoing maintenance and patching of servers. The cloud provider handles all server-related updates and maintenance tasks, ensuring that applications remain up-to-date and secure without requiring developer intervention.

7. Increased Resilience and Fault Tolerance

Serverless applications are inherently resilient and fault-tolerant due to the distributed nature of cloud infrastructure. If one server fails, the application can continue to function seamlessly, as the cloud provider automatically reroutes traffic to other available servers.

8. Simplified Deployment and Management

Deploying and managing serverless applications is significantly simpler compared to traditional cloud-based applications. Developers can easily deploy functions and manage their configurations using the cloud provider's tools and APIs. This simplifies the application deployment lifecycle and reduces the overall effort required for application management.

9. Enhanced Collaboration and Teamwork

It facilitates collaboration and teamwork among developers, as it encourages modular and reusable code development. Functions can be developed and maintained independently, enabling team members to work on different parts of the application simultaneously without introducing conflicts or dependencies.

10. Future-Proof Architecture

Serverless architecture is well-positioned for future advancements in cloud computing, as it aligns with emerging trends such as microservices, containerisation, and edge computing. Its ability to adapt to new technologies and frameworks makes it a future-proof choice for application development.

Use Cases of Serverless Architecture

Serverless architecture is well-suited for a wide range of applications, including:

  • Microservices: Serverless functions are ideal for building microservices architectures, where applications are composed of small, independent services.
  • Real-time applications: Serverless architecture is well-suited for real-time applications that require low latency and high scalability.
  • Event-driven applications: Serverless functions are triggered by events, making them ideal for event-driven applications.
  • Batch processing: Serverless functions can be used for batch processing tasks, such as data analysis or image processing.

Getting Started with Serverless Architecture

Below are steps to get started with serverless architecture:

Step 1: Choose a Cloud Provider

The first step in venturing into serverless architecture is to select a cloud provider that aligns with your specific requirements and preferences. Popular cloud providers offering serverless platforms include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Each provider offers a unique set of features, pricing models, and support options, making it crucial to evaluate their offerings carefully based on your needs.

Step 2: Create a Cloud Provider Account

After choosing a cloud provider, proceed to create an account. The account setup process typically involves providing basic information, such as your name, email address, and billing details. Some cloud providers may offer free trial periods or introductory discounts, allowing you to explore their serverless offerings without incurring significant costs.

Step 3: Familiarise Yourself with the Cloud Provider's Serverless Platform

Each cloud provider's serverless platform has its own unique terminology, tools, and SDKs. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the specific features and offerings of your chosen provider. This may involve exploring documentation, tutorials, and sample code provided by the cloud provider.

Step 4: Develop Your Serverless Functions

Start developing your serverless functions using the cloud provider's programming language of choice. Serverless functions are typically written in languages like Python, Node.js, or Java. These functions encapsulate specific business logic and are triggered by events, such as HTTP requests or messages from queues.

Step 5: Deploy Your Serverless Functions

After developing your serverless functions deploy them to the cloud provider's serverless platform. The deployment process typically involves creating a deployment package and uploading it to the cloud platform. The cloud provider handles provisioning the necessary resources and executing your functions when triggered by events.

Step 6: Monitor and Manage Your Serverless Applications

Cloud providers offer monitoring and management tools for serverless applications. These tools provide insights into function execution, resource utilization, and error rates. Utilize these tools to monitor the performance and health of your serverless applications and identify potential issues proactively.

Step 7: Leverage Additional Cloud Services

A wide range of additional services that can complement your serverless applications are also offered by cloud providers. These services may include databases, object storage, API gateways, and authentication and authorisation mechanisms. Explore these services to enhance the functionality and security of your serverless applications.

Step 8: Continuously Learn and Improve

Serverless architecture is a changing technology, and new features and best practices are constantly emerging. Stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in serverless architecture by following industry blogs, attending conferences, and participating in online communities.


With its reduced complexity, cost-effectiveness, and scalability, serverless architecture is becoming increasingly popular for building modern applications. Whether you're a seasoned developer or just starting out, serverless architecture is worth exploring.

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