Will the cloud go serverless?

Since the dawn of cloud computing, one theme has been a constant: the idea that demand can be dynamic and elastic, that you pay only for the resources you use, and that the service is delivered on demand. But does cloud computing today live up to that promise? Recent developments show that there may be a different way to satisfy that expectation.

Serverless computing exposed

Going back to basics, unless you are buying off-the-shelf commercial software services, cloud computing has always required the buyer to size and specify a server – CPU, RAM, storage, and so on. But there are times when this is not appropriate, with some observers going as far as describing the idea of having to think in terms of servers – even if they are virtual – as a left-over artifact of traditional datacentres.

Serverless cloud computing is, of course, not serverless at all. But from the enterprise point of view, it removes the need to specify servers before developing and posting code into the cloud. Instead, you can write a function directly into a cloud provider’s portal, while provider’s back end systems deal with managing resources needed by the function: this is not your concern from an operational perspective.

This then allows the developer to concentrate on the delivering the service, rather than on the delivery mechanism. You can

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