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Serverless Compute

· 5 min read
Saurav Gopinath Panda

Cloud computing has been evolving continuously, and a new approach called serverless computing has recently gained popularity. This innovative approach has caught the attention of developers and businesses as it offers a more efficient way to deploy applications. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of serverless computing, its practical use cases, and how it differentiates from traditional cloud service models.

Understanding Serverless Computing

Serverless Computing Defined: At its core, serverless computing is a cloud-computing execution model where the cloud provider is responsible for dynamically managing the allocation and provisioning of servers. Unlike traditional models where servers are constantly present, serverless architectures activate them only as needed.

A Brief History: Serverless computing didn't emerge in a vacuum. It's an evolution of cloud computing models, growing from the foundations laid by Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS), but taking a step further in abstracting the server layer entirely from the developer's purview.

How Serverless Computing Works

Event-Driven Execution

At the heart of serverless computing is its event-driven nature. In this model, applications are broken down into individual functions, which are executed in response to specific events. These events can range from a user uploading a file, a scheduled task, a new database entry, to an HTTP request from a web application.

Triggering Functions: When an event occurs, it triggers a function. For instance, if a user uploads a photo to a storage service like Amazon S3, this event can trigger a function that resizes the image, analyzes it, or even updates a database with the image's metadata.

Stateless Functions: Each function is typically stateless and exists only for the duration of its execution. Once the function completes its task, it shuts down, freeing up resources.

Automatic Scaling and Resource Management

One of the most significant aspects of serverless computing is its ability to automatically scale. This scalability is both horizontal (handling more requests) and vertical (allocating more computing resources per request), depending on the demand.

Handling Demand: If a function needs to run multiple instances due to a surge in requests, the serverless platform automatically handles this. For example, if thousands of users are uploading images simultaneously, the image processing function will scale to handle these uploads concurrently.

Resource Allocation: The serverless platform dynamically allocates resources to each function based on the workload. This means that each function gets exactly the amount of computing power and memory required to execute its task.

Backend Infrastructure Management by Cloud Provider

In serverless computing, the cloud provider manages the servers and infrastructure required to run these functions. This management includes routine tasks such as server maintenance, patching, scaling, and provisioning.

Abstraction of Servers: Developers don’t need to worry about the underlying infrastructure. They simply deploy their code, and the cloud provider takes care of the rest.

Focus on Code: This allows developers to focus solely on writing the code for their functions without being bogged down by infrastructure concerns.

Examples of Serverless Architectures

To illustrate, let's consider a web application using AWS Lambda:

Suppose you have a web application that permits users to submit feedback. Once a user fills in the feedback form, a Lambda function is activated to process and save the feedback data in a database such as Amazon DynamoDB. This function is intended to respond to the specific event generated by the feedback form submission.

When triggered, AWS first searches for an existing container that runs the code of your Lambda function. If it doesn't find one, it creates a new container with your Lambda function's code, executes it, and then returns the response. Therefore, response time may vary based on whether it's a hot start (container already exists) or a cold start (new container has to be created). We will cover this in future topics.

Key Characteristics of Serverless Computing

Event-driven: Serverless functions are triggered by specific events - from HTTP requests to file uploads in cloud storage.

Scalability: The model offers automatic scaling, making it easier to handle varying workloads.

Micro-billing: Costs are based on actual resource consumption, not on pre-purchased server capacity.

Advantages of Serverless Computing

Cost-Efficiency: Only pay for what you use, leading to potential cost savings compared to traditional models.

Enhanced Scalability: Automatically scales with the application's needs. Reduced Operational Overhead: Less time spent on server management means more time for development.

Faster Time-to-Market: Quicker deployment and development cycles.

Use Cases for Serverless Computing

Web Applications: Ideal for managing HTTP requests in web apps.

Real-Time File Processing: Automatically process files upon upload.

IoT Applications: Efficiently handle IoT data and requests.

Big Data: Suitable for large-scale data processing tasks.

Comparing Serverless to Traditional Cloud Service Models

Serverless computing differs significantly from server-based models like IaaS and PaaS. While it offers greater scalability and cost-efficiency, it also comes with limitations such as potential vendor lock-in and challenges in complex application scenarios.


Serverless computing is a game-changing approach to deploying and managing applications in the cloud. Its benefits, which include cost savings and enhanced scalability, make it an appealing option for many projects. As the technology continues to evolve, it's worth exploring how serverless computing can benefit your business or project.

Embrace the future of cloud computing and revolutionize your approach to application development and deployment by adopting serverless architectures.