What is serverless computing? Real world examples

Serverless computing is an easily scalable, cost-effective, cloud-based infrastructure that allows enterprises to adopt cloud services by focusing their time and resources on writing, deploying, and optimizing code without the burden of provisioning or managing server instances.

How serverless architecture works

Serverless architecture is largely based on a Functions as a Service (FaaS) model that allows cloud platforms to execute code without the need for fully provisioned infrastructure instances. FaaS, also known as Compute as a Service (CaaS), are stateless, server-side functions that are event-driven, scalable, and fully managed by cloud providers. 

DevOps teams write code that focuses on business logic and then define an event that triggers the function to be executed, such as an HTTP request. The cloud provider then executes the code and sends the results to the web application for users to review. 

AWS Lambda, Microsoft Azure Functions, Google Cloud Functions and IBM OpenWhisk are all well-known examples of serverless services offered by the cloud providers. 

The convenience and cost-saving benefits associated with on-demand auto-scaling resources, and only paying for services as they're needed, makes serverless frameworks an appealing option for DevOps teams and business stakeholders alike.


Examples of serverless

The growing popularity of cloud computing and microservices combined with the demand for greater innovation and agility without increasing costs has contributed significantly to the prevalence of serverless applications.  Notable use cases include: 


Serverless is ideal for independent task based applications such as chatbots and can save on operational costs since billing is based on the actual number of requests. Slack, a popular, cloud-based business communication platform, uses a serverless application called marbot to send notifications from Amazon Web Services (AWS) to DevOps teams through Slack.


Reducing development time and server costs while simplifying the build process are goals that universally appeal to business teams and IT teams. HomeAway relied on Google Cloud Functions to develop an app that allowed users to search and comment on the recommendations of travelers in real time, even in areas without an internet connection. The cloud services available through Cloud Firestore and Cloud Functions made it possible to set up the infrastructure within minutes and deploy the app within six weeks with just one full-time developer. 


Garbage pick-up and disposal is an industry that may not seem to require innovative technology, but GreenQ took a sophisticated approach to streamlining and improving waste management by using IBM OpenWhisk to create an IoT platform that uses hardware installed on garbage trucks to collect key metrics such as pickup time, location, and load weight. The auto-scaling available through serverless was particularly valuable due to the fluctuation of infrastructure demands based on the number of customers and trucks at any given time.


Soft drink giant Coca-Cola has enthusiastically embraced serverless after its implementation in vending machines resulted in significant savings. Whenever a beverage is purchased, the payment gateway makes a call to the AWS API Gateway and triggers an AWS Lambda function to complete the transaction. Since vending machines must communicate with headquarters for inventory and marketing purposes, the ability to pay per request rather than operating at full capacity had a substantial impact on reducing costs.

How AppDynamics can help

AppDynamics helps in optimizing the user experience that leverages serverless functions to support sudden bursts of requests based on end-user demands. We provide visibility from front-end to backend application performance with full business context using a consolidated yet comprehensive monitoring platform.

  • Migrate to the cloud with confidence using data-driven metrics that compares pre and post-migration performance. 

  • Quantify the impact of your transition to the cloud on user experience as well as business objectives with AppDynamics Application Intelligence Platform. 

  • Simplify hybrid cloud applications by managing them with a single interface that includes end-to-end transaction tracing and anomaly characteristics across complex application ecosystems. Proactive performance monitoring improves infrastructure visibility.

“The ability to trace a transaction visually and intuitively through the interface was a major benefit. This visibility was especially valuable when Nasdaq was migrating a platform from its internal infrastructure to the AWS Cloud.”

Heather Abbott, SVP Corporate Solutions Technology, Nasdaq

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