As goals and performance curves move onward and upward, the writing is on the wall. IT must directly contribute to business performance if it’s to remain relevant. In light of this reality, the speed and agility that traditional cloud computing enables isn’t enough. Organizations will benefit from the lower cost, faster time to market, and increased focus on customer/user experience (CX/UX) brought by serverless computing. In fact, some serverless users have attributed this model to a 90 percent cost savings and the “near-real-time” reporting and analytics that provides unparalleled insight into customer needs.
Serverless on paper: As defined by the industry, serverless is an evolution of cloud computing in which developers can take a business requirement and deploy a coded solution straight into the serverless cloud—and, put simply, it will run to provide business services. It hides the management of underlying servers and server upgrades, application of security packages, load balancing, failover, fault tolerance, auto scaling, API management, etc. from admins and developers.
Serverless in practice: Brought to life, serverless creates an unprecedented opportunity for CIOs to modernize their ways of working, moving their focus away from “keep the lights on” and towards the business’ strategic growth initiatives, such as CX/UX innovation.
What does this mean for business?
In a serverless world, traditional admin teams tasked with server management, maintenance, upgrades, and patches are unnecessary. Admins in a serverless world will instead focus on user and security management, key management, configurations, and DevOps. The cloud provider is responsible for managing machines, resource allocation, and providing a reliable computing platform. If the IT organization is entangled in the routine work of maintaining server infrastructure, they’ll likely not have enough money and resources to focus on experience innovation— which is critical in today’s hypercompetitive market.
We see it every day. Businesses that continually and evolve in response to customer demand, in the spirit of agile ways of working, stay ahead of competitors. Agility and speed to deployment are at the heart of serverless computing. Serverless computing makes it easier for organizations to move closer towards the No Operations (NoOps) model—a model in which there’s no need for IT operational resources to provision and maintain servers, deploy code, etc. These operational tasks are completely automated using continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD). With this, IT can shift its resources to create automated processes with fewer IT operational resources, improve the agility and quality of enterprise applications and, most importantly, find new ways to use technology to enhance customer-facing products and achieve broader business objectives such as increasing revenue and market share.
Take, for example, microservices development. Developers can deploy self-containing, modular units of business logic as microservices independent of other microservices that collectively provide a macro application for the end users. As a result, developers and architects have a previously unattainable agility to test out new concepts, to trial POCs, or just a new piece of code. With the ease of a few clicks, developers can setup new functions, then write the function, and test it before incorporating it into a microservice or existing application.
The biggest advantages brought by serverless computing? Cost and speed. Serverless cost is based only on the computing resources applied to a given service. For example, if a microservice is used sparingly during the day on serverless computing, its cost will be only the total of the computing resources utilized while the service invoked. When it comes to speed, serverless computing adds to the speed of application deployment, providing the business and IT more time to focus on higher quality applications, business needs, and customer satisfaction. This speed and cost savings can be used to boost the bottom-line, or to invest in new offerings to expand the business itself.
So, where do we go from here?
As IT leaders look ahead, serverless introduces an unparalleled opportunity to modernize the IT department, freeing CIOs to focus on business needs. While serverless will add new skillsets and educational requirements to the CIO’s role, this is par for the course in any modernization initiative.
As with any new technology, serverless computing introduces a learning curve. Don’t underestimate:
- The power of people: Your people are the most critical component of the transition. There will be a need to train or hire resources with new skillsets, particularly in identifying competent administrators and architects for the platform itself. Existing professionals can also be trained relatively easily since most serverless computing architecture supports the use of existing programming languages such as Java, c#, Node js, Python, etc.
- The power of POCs: A great way to adopt serverless computing into your computing environment is to identify a few use cases and conduct proof of concepts (POCs) around them. Identifying tools from cloud vendors and/or other third-party vendors, and incorporating them during POCs can help solidify DevOps best practices within the organization.
It’s time for IT organizations to free themselves from the servers brought by the world of traditional computing. Since all providers provide a robust free tier to play with their serverless components, what are you waiting for? Start small and scale up today.