What is Serverless Architecture and How Does It Work?

Posted by Ramesh V · 31 May, 2023 · 9 Min read
What is Serverless Architecture and How Does It Work?

Have you ever wished you could focus just on creating great online applications, without the headache of handling servers? Welcome to 'Serverless Architecture'! Imagine it like a huge invisible helper, ready to do the heavy lifting for you. You don't have to worry about servers at all. They are still there, of course, but they're managed by others so you can concentrate on building awesome things. In this blog, we'll learn about this cool approach and see how it makes things easier and faster for businesses. If you're curious about this new way of doing things, you're in the right place. So, let's dive in and start exploring this fun and helpful world of serverless architecture!

What is Serverless Architecture?

Serverless Architecture, also known as serverless computing, is a model in cloud computing where the cloud provider automatically manages the infrastructure needed to run your code. With traditional cloud services, you need to set up and maintain servers yourself, but with serverless architecture, the cloud provider takes care of this for you.

In simple terms, Serverless Architecture means that you, as a developer or a business, can focus on writing your application code without worrying about managing or operating servers, databases, or storage systems. You don't have to worry about server capacity, patching, updates, or any other typical server management tasks.

However, it's essential to note that "serverless" doesn't mean there are no servers involved. There are indeed servers running your code, but they're abstracted away and managed by the cloud provider. This model allows developers to build and run applications and services without thinking about the servers.

Serverless Architectures can reduce operational complexity and cost, provide better scalability, and allow developers to focus more on the business logic side of things rather than server and infrastructure management.

Also, Read: Migrating to Serverless: Strategies and Best Practices

How Serverless Architecture Works?

Data managers often access the business logic by using servers to communicate with any application. Dedicated teams are assigned the task of maintaining the server hardware and taking care of security software updates coming in from time to time. They also need to create backups to manage failures. Data managers can offload such responsibilities to a third-party service provider when they opt for serverless architecture and focus on their core competency – writing code.

Today, developers offer serverless architecture as Function as Service (FaaS) by writing their application codes as distinct functions. Whenever an event is triggered, each function is configured to perform a specific task, including any HTTP requests or incoming emails.

Developers typically perform a few tests before deploying these functions with the triggers to a cloud service provider’s account. In this case, the cloud provider, based on the invoked function, executes the function on an available server. If no server is available at any specific time, the cloud provider may spin a new server to execute the new functions. The developers need not worry about the nitty-gritty of the function and can focus on writing the code and deploying it.

Advantages of Serverless Architecture

When you build serverless applications, the advantage of serverless architecture is that you do not have to spend time on server management. However, you will have to go through the learning curve, and it may be challenging to club multiple functions to create complex workflows in your application.

Here are some of the fundamental terms to get familiar with:

Invocation: Execution of a lone function

Duration: The time taken to execute a serverless function

Cold Start: It is the dormancy during a period of inactivity, and the time taken by a function to get triggered

Concurrency Limit: This is the maximum number of function instances that can run simultaneously in one region, determined by the cloud provider. When a function exceeds the concurrency limit, it will stop automatically.

Timeout: The time a cloud service provider may set for a function before ending it. Providers generally set default timeouts with a predetermined maximum limit.

Serverless architecture offers several other key advantages:

Cost-Effective: With serverless architecture, you pay only for the computing time you consume. You won’t have to pay when your code is not running. You don't have to bear the costs of server maintenance, and you're not paying for idle server time.

Scalability: Serverless architecture can automatically scale to meet your application's demand. If the function needs to run multiple times concurrently, the serverless provider can handle that automatically. You don't need to set up rules or routines for scalability.

Productivity: Since the server management is handled by the cloud provider, developers can focus on writing code and creating new features, which increases productivity. It reduces the complexity of software and deployment management.

Reduced Latency: Serverless architecture allows you to run your code from different geographical locations. This means the code can run closer to the end user, reducing latency.

Easy Deployment: Deploying a serverless function is typically simpler and quicker than traditional deployment methods. It's also easier to set up multiple environments like staging and production.

Flexibility: Serverless architecture can respond quickly to changes, allowing for agile development and innovation.

Reduced Operational Concerns: Since the cloud provider manages the servers, you don't have to worry about server maintenance, updates, patches, or server failures.

Serverless Architecture vs Container Architecture

Developers can deploy application code through serverless or container architecture, though several significant differences exist. Developers using container architecture need to spend more time updating and maintaining every container they deploy, including its system settings and other dependencies. The benefit of using serverless architecture is that all these are handled by the cloud service provider, leaving the developers to focus on writing code. Moreover, serverless applications can scale automatically, whereas container architecture needs to be managed on a platform like Kubernetes.

Developers prefer serverless functions, especially trigger-based events like payment processing, for which they are best suited. However, for applications that witness high traffic or while migrating to the cloud, developers may find that they have better control over the underlying operating system and delivery environment.

From fledgling start-ups to large corporations, the preference is for serverless architecture because:

  • Costs are affordable as cloud providers charge per invocation, and there is no need to pay for unused server space and virtual machines.
  • As function instances get triggered automatically depending on traffic variations, scalability becomes effortless.
  • Developers and engineers can focus on writing code as they need not worry about server management, resulting in accelerated delivery cycles.

Also, Read: Serverless vs Microservices – Which Architecture to Choose?

Challenges in a Serverless Environment

However, serverless architecture does have some manageable challenges. In any serverless scenario, you do not have absolute control over the software stock your code is running on. You may face intermittent data outages, unforeseen hardware faults, and other similar issues impacting your servers. The cloud service provider will resolve all such difficulties promptly.

A serverless environment may be affected by cold starts leading to latency for several seconds at any point in time. Functions need to be invoked after each period of inactivity, though the cumulative loss of time is negligible.

Also, testing in a serverless environment could pose challenges. While developers can run unit tests on function code without difficulty, evaluating the interaction of frontend and backend components through integration tests is quite complicated in a serverless environment.

The bright side is that organizations can considerably reduce their go-to-market time, leading to easy scalability, lighter applications, etc. Some large organizations prefer a hybrid atmosphere, especially when they have long-running processes where they must use containers for handling bulk requests and serverless architecture for shorter tasks and database storage.

Serverless Architecture Use Cases

Serverless architecture is best suitable for organizations needing to perform short-lived tasks. They can easily manage workloads with thin and unpredictable traffic.

The serverless architecture use cases include:

Triggered Tasks

Any events triggered by user activity, or even a series of such events, can be easily handled by serverless architecture. A simple event like a user signing up on your webpage could instantly trigger a database change, leading to an automated welcome email being triggered. All the backend work can be handled using serverless functions.

Building APIs

You can build RESTful APIs by leveraging Amazon API gateway serverless architecture, and scale accordingly when the demand increases.

Handling Behind-the-Scenes Applications

Serverless functions are useful for asynchronous processing, and it is easy to handle application tasks like transcoding videos after uploading them and rendering product information with uninterrupted application flow and zero latency.

Security Checks

With serverless architecture, especially when you spin up a new container, it is easy to invoke a function to check for vulnerabilities and misconfigurations. Developers can set up two-factor authentication or SSH verification to make the environment much more secure.

Uninterrupted or Continuous Integration and Delivery

Almost all the stages in continuous integration and delivery can be automated with serverless architecture. While pull requests trigger automated tests, code commits trigger functions to create a build.

Developers generally prefer migrating to a serverless environment in stages to avoid interruptions in day-to-day functions. They may move some parts of the application to serverless while holding some on regular servers. The advantage of serverless architecture is that they are extensible, and introducing additional functions as and when required is quick and easy.

Also, Read: AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud - Choose for your Enterprise


So, there you have it! Serverless Architecture - a game-changer in the world of computing. This might seem like a complex jigsaw puzzle at first, but once you understand its essence, it's truly an intriguing concept. A 'behind-the-scenes' hero, it ensures you focus on crafting your applications, while it takes care of the backstage tasks. It's about time we embraced this innovative approach that's redefining how we think about servers and cloud computing. With serverless, you have the power to write code without the hurdles of managing servers, and that's what makes it so powerful. It's like being a magician with a cloud as your magic wand! Ready to take a step into the future of computing? Let's make magic with serverless!

With SoluteLabs' Serverless Computing Services, you're just one click away from unlocking scalable, efficient, and cost-effective solutions tailored to your needs. Dive into the world of serverless with us, and let's transform your digital journey together.

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