Serverless computing (or just serverless) might be the latest trend in the industry. Serverless services such as AWS lambda are gaining in popularity and will gain more traction in the years to come, so here are some things that you might now know about serverless.

Serverless still uses Servers

If you thought that this was the holy grail and got you rid off the hosting costs, then you were wrong. It is not that suddenly there are no servers any longer and there was a magic cloud that would host your application. That is not the case.

Serverless might be best explained by going back in time. About 20 years ago, it was (nearly) impossible to get any hosting going. If you were a startup, the best best to get your site in the air was to raise capital and to buy servers, load balancers yourself. Outages (due to popularity) were notorious and scaling meant you going to the store and getting a bigger or more servers.

In came some hosting providers. Godaddy and Namecheap were early providers in the online hosting sphere. However, autoscaling with these providers is not easy and if you are a bigger company, you oftentimes had to rely on Dedicated Servers, which meant you still were either buying or renting a server and needed the linux (or windows) specialists to manage them (yuuuuck).

So then came AWS EC2, which had the promise of virtually unlimited autoscaling, but you still had to choose an instance and deal with Memory issues, CPU speeds and managing a linux operating system.

Then came both AWS S3 and Lambda. S3 seems to be the place of choice of all assets (Images, Videos, but also PDFs) and Lambda is like an API in the cloud.

The advantage of Serverless is the fact that suddenly you can have unlimited visitors and you pay per visitor (but very little).

You might already use serverless

If you are using google drive, Dropbox or S3, chances are that you are already using serverless. So by now you might think that Serverless is like a new buzzword for the same. Not quite, cause where the last couple of years frameworks like Ruby on Rails were popular, now these are due to become obsolete and simpler faster to develop applications take its spot.

It might not be suitable for your startup

Wait, weren’t you just saying in the last sentence that “faster to develop applications” were going to make platforms like Rails obsolete? Yes, I did! However, when we are working in a startup it is likely that your idea is going to fail. Therefore, it is best to use something that you can build quickly and better yet change quickly. AWS lambda might have a little bit of learning curve and therefore it might be better to use Elastic beanstalk or heroku for the moment and accept the higher hosting charges

It might work with your existing app!

It might be that you don’t need to change that much to your current Ruby or NodeJS application as you might think. So have a look into the Lambda administration and soon your App / Website might process that traffic at virtually no costs.

There will likely popup frameworks!

Where Rails became the platform for servers, it will likely be that Rails 6+ will be serverless and they just keep catching up. That way, each major programming language (Javascript, Ruby, Python) will just turn serverless and get their own “Serverless Rails”. As the community likely is not going to agree on a single Language.

Developers are still needed!

While, Serverless can mean a major breakthrough in making things very simplistic, programming knowledge and understanding of the web are still required. It will just mean that there will be less need for a DevOps person to spend his weekend in the office instead of on the beach. There is still a need for a DevOps person (I’d rather not go in that discussion), but overall there is a lesser need for stress.

Serverless might be the next step to less

Where difficult API calls are now managed by Zapier (if you don’t know it have a look) and none programmers can handle pretty much automate an entire business and the costs will be less than $50 USD per month. Soon there will be an API development platform that does the same. Let’s call it “LESS”. While it is unlikely the end of programmers or web development, it means that a lot of standard jobs can be made efficient to the point that this can be offered as a point and click subscription model.