Serverless doesn’t mean there are no servers. It’s the first misnomer that should be explained when looking at this technology. Serverless simply means it’s not your server. As far as you’re concerned, it’s serverless because someone else owns and manages the server. That someone else takes care of setup, infrastructure, scaling, and anything else connected to the servers. There’s no special language associated with serverless either. If another language is more familiar, most providers let you use whichever programming language you prefer.
Also known as a function of a service or FaaS, serverless gets this alternate name because of where you do the work. If you think of an application being generated in layers, starting with the very root of the infrastructure, then FaaS is just the very top layer. Everything below the application layer is part of the infrastructure, and is handled by someone else. You’re only creating at the top.
The impact of serverless for developers is highly beneficial. By eliminating the more time-consuming part of their job, managing servers, they’re freed up to work on creating the final product.
When a developer doesn’t have to worry about the basic setup of a system, they have more time to devote to other areas of their project. When the underlying infrastructure has gone serverless, and someone else is handling that aspect of a project, a developer can focus more on the code necessary to complete the application. All you have to do, as a developer, is write the functions and applications that use those functions. This extra time to focus on the end product then leads to a shorter development time.
Once you’re ready to deploy, serverless systems give you immediate scalability. If one day you have five users, but the next day you launch to thousands, you won’t have to worry about whether or not the underlying infrastructure can handle the jump. It can.
With the ability to complete projects faster since maintaining the infrastructure is no longer taking up the developer’s time, a ripple effect occurs. Faster development and faster testing enables faster innovations to take place. New iterations of your initial application can get completed and released faster as well, allowing you to provide users with a superior product that’s always at the forefront of new developments. New ideas can get tested on a much faster schedule as well since each idea no longer needs its own server set up first. The infrastructure for testing is already there and waiting for you to use immediately.
When you own the server your application runs on, you’re paying for that web server regardless of whether or not your applications are active. If no requests are coming in to engage with your application, you’re still footing the bill. This can end up being a costly prospect, especially when compared to the number of users. A low level of engagement can bring down the return on your investment (ROI.) Running your application serverless, you only pay when the code actually runs. This can greatly reduce operating costs because you no longer need to spend the money on the server itself or the n people managing the server. Instead, personnel will manage a cloud environment, which is a much easier job.
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Working with Java in a serverless environment
For Java developers, there may be a little hesitation when it comes to working in a serverless environment. Firstly, Java Functions can start a little slow and take up a lot of memory. The time impact to load is usually not more than a few seconds, but that can matter in a highly competitive situation. Technology like GraalVM, for example, addresses these Java-based pain points to help code run faster. It compiles Java byte code to native images. Used ahead of time of compilation, the dependency graph is built before starting the JVM so start up happens faster. With a smaller size and a faster load time, the issues with Java won’t feel be as impactful for code selection when working in a serverless environment.
Weighing the positives
As a developer nothing is more valuable than time. Working in technology, many applications being developed are on a tight schedule to go out before the competition. There’s also pressure to say at the top of the game operationally, constantly testing and updating to release improved versions to optimize user experience. One of the best strategies to ensure developers have enough time to accomplish all of this is to eliminate any drags on their workday. By passing on the management of the server and all functions that go with it, to go serverless, developers can hone in on coding and running applications that make impact.
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