What is Azure Serverless?

Cloud Migration

Azure Serverless is an approach to software architecture where systems can be built and run on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform without having to manage infrastructure. Applications do actually still run on servers but servers are abstracted away with Azure services such as Azure Functions so that you do not have to worry about the maintenance and management of hardware. The actual hardware is managed by Azure. This approach can remove common server related issues such as operating system patching, maintenance, redundancy and scalability.

Azure Serverless is the most modern of a number of architectures available on cloud platforms. A common approach in the past has been to simply virtualise existing applications into servers on the cloud. However this approach still requires some management of operating systems on the virtual machines or management of containers.

The serverless approach which represents a state of the art approach to modern, scalable software systems and products is built from a number of abstract services managed by Azure. For example Azure Functions provide a compute service to run code, CosmosDB provides database resources to store and query data and many other services allow other aspect of a software system to be modelled without any thought for the hardware the service runs on. A useful analogy would be that you do not need to worry which generator is providing power to your home on an electrical network. You only worry that there is electricity. In a similar way with Azure Serverless you can forget about the actual physical hardware and just be assured that you are receiving a service that runs somewhere in the Azure cloud.

The Azure Serverless architecture is a more modern take on  service oriented architecture and microservices architecture. In these types of architecture software systems are decomposed into loosely coupled services which each handle one specific area of system functionality. This does add some additional complexity to applications but the serverless approach can lead to more scaleable and reliable systems which can be developed in an agile manner leading to quick time to market and lower overall total cost of  ownership (TCO).

The benefits of Azure Serverless

Azure Serverless removes the task of maintaining and managing servers as well as application framework installations. With this approach developers can  focus on building software systems and products without the concern of redundancy and scalability of servers.

Azure Serverless is also billed in a consumption model which means you only pay for the quantity of service you use. Again similar to the charging mechanism used for decades by utility companies.  Historically server based architectures would have a constant cost of maintaining the infrastructure so even on quiet days the hardware is often sized for the maximum predicted traffic. If twenty machines were needed to accommodate a holiday traffic peak on your website then usually you would be running twenty machines in a post holiday period with idle processing capacity sitting unused.

Based on consumption, Azure Serverless can run at small costs when traffic is light but scale as traffic ramps up with costs only increasing with usage.

Additionally there are a huge number of ‘off the shelf’ Azure Serverless services which can be put together to deliver applications. These include services for storage, compute, database, artificial intelligence and many more.

Azure Serverless can give organisations the ability to deliver more services in a scalable way and in a more agile manner. The ability to deliver services more quickly and competitively has never been more important and Azure Serverless is a tool that can help facilitate this agility.

Are you interested in how Azure Serverless could benefit your organisation? Get in touch and we will offer a completely free consultation on what this could do for you.

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