Right now we are literally at the epicenter, but when we glimpse at the horizon we see another one coming!
The funny thing is, “serverless” itself is a misnomer.
Of course there are servers. There are always servers. How can programs execute themselves in thin air, without the support of the underlying hardware and utility modules? So, there are servers.
Just not where you would expect them to be.
Traversing the timeline of computing, we see the turbulent track record?? of servers: birth in secret dungeons of vaccum tubes and city-scale power supplies; multi-ton boxes; networks; clusters; cloud datacenters and server farms (agriculture just lost its royalty!); containers.
Over time, we see servers losing their significance. Gradually, but steadily.
And now, suddenly, puff! They are gone.
Invisible, to be precise.
Nobody cares, as long as the job gets done.
In this sense, we realize that serverless is nothing new; the concept, and even some pracical implementations, have been there since as far back as 2006. You yourself may have benefited from serverless (or conceptually serverless) architectures; while one may argue them to be PaaSes, Google App Engine and Google Apps Script (especially) are good examples from my Google-ridden “fungramming” history.
Just like touchscreens, serverless resemblances had always been there, but never has the marketing hype been this intense – obviously it is growing, and we’ll surely see more of it as time flies by.
AWS had an early entry to the arena and currently owns a huge market share, bigger than all the others combined; Azure is behind, but catching up fast; and Google still seems to be more focused on Kubernetes and related containerization stuff although they too are on the track with Cloud Functions and Firebase.
Streaming and event-driven architectures are playing their part in bringing value to serverless. We should also not forget the cloud hype that made people go every-friggin-thing-as-a-service and later left them wondering how they could pay only for what they really use, only while they use it.
All ramblings aside, serverless is growing in popularity. Platforms are evolving to support more event sources, better integration support for other services and richer monitoring and statistics. Frameworks like Serverless are striving to provide a unified and generifier serverless development experience while IDEs like Sigma are doing their part in helping newbies (and sometimes even professionals) get going with serverless with minimum hassle and maximum speed.
Being new and shiny does not necessarily mean that serverless is the silver bullet for all your dev issues; in fact, right now it fits into only a few enterprise use cases (primarily due to the lack of strong guarantees, which are quite commonplace in the bureaucratic enterprise atmosphere). Nevertheless, providers are already working on this, and we can expect some disruptive – if not revolutionary – changes in the not-too-distant future. However it is always best to re-iterate your requirements before officially stepping into the serverless world, because serverless demands quite a shift in your application architecture, devops, as well as the very core of your developer mindset.
And, of course, the best way to pick the cake is to taste it yourself.