Your Quick Guide to Serverless Computing: Benefits, Challenges and Training Resources
Serverless computing has risen in popularity over the last few years, with organizations and development teams embracing the ease of use, pay-as-you-go pricing flexibility and innovative potential that it supports. The global market for serverless architectures is on track to meet or exceed its forecasted growth from $1.88 billion in 2016 to $7.72 billion by 20211.
Because serverless environments eliminate many of the operational burdens of infrastructure management, application teams can focus on product development while speeding up time to delivery. Serverless architectures empower DevOps teams to use right-fit compute, storage, data stores and networking for containerized code. And with each self-contained, serverless environment accessible through platform-independent REST API calls, developers no longer need to concern themselves with compatibility issues between functional application units. These serverless environments have given rise to new, agile application development practices that break down thought silos, speed up time to delivery, reduce inter-team dependencies and open businesses to a wealth of potential B2B partnerships.
Examples of popular serverless environments include the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Lambda compute platform, S3 storage and DynamoDB database. Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and IBM also offer widely used serverless platforms. These serverless platforms represent a growing collection of technologies used by IT professionals across nearly every industry. Below, we explore the benefits of serverless computing, the challenges you may face in implementation and how you can grow your career in a future built on cloud.
Serverless Computing Offers Higher Efficiency and Lower Costs
For both businesses and developers, the key benefits of serverless computing are higher efficiency and lower costs. In traditional cloud computing, businesses lease infrastructure resources that function very much like bare-metal servers. Server-based, infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) contracts typically provide month-to-month payment options, which allow for controlled costs but don’t provide the elastic scalability that is possible with serverless computing. In a serverless environment, customers are provisioned by required function and duration, paying only for the resources that are used. Serverless environments can be provisioned through automation, in response to user demand, and they shut themselves back down when demand decreases. This approach can work well for both long-running servers and functions that experience spikes in usage.
For DevOps teams, serverless computing increases productivity and reduces dependencies between teams. Serverless environments, especially in a containerized development architecture, encapsulate the operating environment, including the compute, storage, database, networking and operating system, along with the functional unit of code. These microservices provide API-based access for other, independent microservices. Collectively, containers make up a complete application without forcing interdependencies during the development, build and deployment cycles. Developers can also take a more objective approach to creating an ideal environment for their code functions, resulting in services that can be deployed independently and scaled based on real-time demand.
Understanding Shared Responsibility in a Serverless Computing Environment
While serverless computing offers clear benefits when it comes to developer efficiency and customer costs, it has both advantages and disadvantages regarding security, and it’s critical for DevOps teams to understand where their responsibilities start and end. Security for serverless computing is built on a shared responsibility model, meaning that the cloud provider takes on a share of the security responsibility. In these cloud environments, the provider maintains security for everything below the hypervisor stack, including resource segmentation, security of bare-metal components and facility security. All other security concerns — including environment configuration and provisioning policies, application security, networking security, identity and access management, cryptography, certificate management and regulatory compliance — are the responsibility of the cloud customer.
Because serverless components are provisioned through the cloud provider’s control plane, the serverless approach can reduce visibility and control. Ninety-nine percent of cloud misconfigurations go undetected by customers, and those misconfigurations represent an overwhelming portion of cloud-native breaches that lead to data loss2. Understanding cloud provisioning best practices is critical for maintaining security in a serverless environment.
DevOps Diligence Requires Deeper Understanding
By combining development and operations teams into cohesive units and giving them shared delivery goals, each DevOps team becomes intimately familiar with the serverless environment needed to support their microservices. While serverless computing unburdens teams from day-to-day operations, developers gain a deeper understanding of why each serverless component is chosen, and infrastructure engineers learn how their architecture supports the code.
However, it’s important for DevOps teams to understand how their microservices fit into the greater code architecture. While the DevOps team structure breaks down the traditional knowledge silos between development and operations, the culture has the potential to create “bubbles” instead. Each DevOps team does one thing, and they do it well. But they also need to stay diligent and remember that their code is part of a large system with many moving parts. Learning DevOps development best practices — including API development, security integration and analytics — is just as important as learning how to work within a serverless computing environment.
Serverless Computing Training to Boost Your Career
The fundamental differences between serverless computing and traditional architecture and IaaS require a new way of thinking about infrastructure. For data center engineers, developers, database administrators and IT analysts, training in serverless computing can help reshape the way infrastructure is seen, used and understood. By understanding serverless computing principles and best practices, traditional development teams and DevOps teams alike can maximize their use of these modern computing resources.
When looking for training in serverless computing, be sure to find a training provider with vendor-approved training and certification courses that can help accelerate your working knowledge of the systems you’ll use. Your instructors should have up-to-date, practical experience with serverless platforms, and they should be teaching the latest information and best practices for serverless computing configuration and use. Additionally, find a training provider that offers tangential skill training, including courses in DevOps, cybersecurity in a cloud environment, cloud analytics, platform-as-a-service tools and automation.
ExitCertified Offers End-to-End Training for Cloud Professionals
Award-winning training provider ExitCertified offers training in AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, IBM and more to help you get started on a path to deep understanding of serverless computing architectures within your cloud environment. With ExitCertified’s vendor-approved courses taught by industry experts, you’ll gain practical, hands-on experience in your platform of choice, along with the understanding you need to fit serverless computing concepts into your development strategy. Many ExitCertified courses are offered via ExitCertified’s Individual Multimedia Video Presence (iMVP®) platform, which redefines remote training by making it as immersive and engaging as an in-person classroom experience. You can also learn in person, either at a training center or on site at your company, and you can take advantage of many online, self-paced courses to help keep your skills sharp.
1. Business Wire, “$7.72 Billion Function-as-a-Service Market 2017 - Global Forecast to 2021: Increasing shift from DevOps to serverless computing to drive the overall Function-as-a-Service market - Research and Markets,” Feb. 2017, https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170227006262/en/7.72-Billion-Funct%20ion-as-a-Service-Market-2017---Global
2. Bayern, M., TechRepublic, “IaaS and Cloud Native Breaches: Why companies are at risk,” Sept. 2019, https://www.techrepublic.com/article/iaas-and-cloud-native-breaches-why-companies-are-at-risk/