What is Function-as-a-Service (FaaS)?
22 Aug

What is Function-as-a-Service (FaaS)

Mahipal Nehra

One of the predominant words which are taking up the horizon of Cloud computing by storm is Functions as a Service (FaaS) and Serverless. Firstly, let's understand what Serverless and FaaS are and why people often use Serverless and FaaS interchangeably. The major truth is that FaaS is basically a member of serverless and is a subset.

Here the pivotal goal of serverless is to provide and assist in any service category be it storage, database, API gateways and other related aspects.

Whereas on the other hand, FaaS acts as the most vital technology in serverless architecture and focuses solely on the event-driven computing paradigm. So let us understand the concept of Serverless and Functions-as-a-Service in detail.

Read: Best Practices for API Security

Serverless computing is a pivotal aspect of computing where the cloud provider completely takes care of the allocated resources and there's no vital need for an application architect. As the name suggests, Serverless, so does that mean serverless is without any server?

The answer is No, serverless still has servers however they are preoccupied away from application development. The service provider takes care of the routine work of provisioning, maintaining, and scaling the server infrastructure allowing the developers to concentrate on code for deployment.

On the other hand, the FaaS has now become a hot topic in the world of software architecture, adhering towards gaining a pivotal amount of attention even outside the developer community since the coming of AWS lambda back in the year 2014.

FaaS since then has dominantly formed a change towards looking at the way the technology is being bought, delivered and operated.

The importance gained by FaaS has been huge, especially in terms of the features it provides and the significant impact it has gained which has provided numerous profits to the business.

Read: AWS Comprehend

An enormous increase in the application development activities is being witnessed and a major shift is adhering whereas a shift from DevOps to serverless computing is on the humongous rise.

Additionally, the rise in the requirement in order to eliminate server management challenges has naturally pushed the high rise growth of the FaaS market.

FAAS Statics

The size of the global Function-as-a-Service market was estimated at $3,017.00 million in 2018, and it is anticipated to grow to $24,007.00 million by the year 2026, at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 29.7% according to the report released by Allied Market Research.

The research provides a thorough analysis of the competition landscape, key winning tactics, business performance, important sectors, and changing market dynamics. Whereas North America has put forward the highest share and is said to be maintaining its dominance throughout the forecast period.

Additionally, the region of Asia Pacific is expected to grow at the highest CAGR of 34.1% from the year 2019 to 2026. Whereas on the other hand, the serverless computing market is being anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 26% during the period 2020-2029.

What is FAAS (Function-as-a-Service): An Overview

FaaS also known as Function-as-a-service is a type of cloud computing service which permits one to execute code in adherence to various sets of events without the complex infrastructure which is vehemently associated with the construction and launching of the microservices application i.e., it allows developers to write code on the fly which can then be executed in response to an event, such as a user clicking on an element in a web application which makes it easier to scale code.

Read: DevOps and Software Architecture

FaaS not just simply deploys the application to the cloud but also keeps performing various types of functions on demand. It simply allows the developer to build, compute, run and manage application packages without having to maintain a long tiring process of infrastructure.

Over here the developer just writes a function and doesn’t have to bother about things like deployment, server resources, and scalability. Why? Because that is what FaaS does. It looks after everything.

Read: Microservices States, Scalability, and Stream

Imagine owning a car and being responsible for everything from maintaining, cleaning, and servicing to driving it yourself whenever you need to get somewhere. All of these things are quite expensive, and all tasks must be completed by you or someone else.

On the other side, there is the normal cab, which does not require maintenance or repair and delivers you off at your destination for a very low fee. As a result, the regular cab job is FaaS, where all functions are performed at a low cost and with ease. The process of FaaS in the evolving era of technology has become much more pleasant and simple with the growing times.

How does Faas Work?

However, there is always a major question that strikes everyone: how does the FaaS work?

FaaS mostly provides developers with abstraction to run web applications in adherence to events without managing servers.

The FaaS infrastructure is generally metered on demand by the service provider which is primarily through an event-driven execution model, so whenever their use is required, it will be there. However, FaaS doesn’t require any server processes to be running regularly in the background.

Read: Event Driven Microservices

Earlier applications were typically written with the usage of monolithic architecture, that is the application was designed as a single execution where the function has to be triggered all at once. However, with the evolving time, developers are increasingly shifting towards using microservices.

Microservices are a collection of independently deployable modules. Therefore, as they can be worked on independently, they are much easier to test and maintain.

Whereas a function is essentially a microservice which can perform one action in response to an event. With FaaS, the provider will spin up a server when a function is triggered and will execute the function and shut down the server.

Hence developers which are using FaaS have enabled access to a platform that permits them to execute the code for the apps. Additionally, while using FaaS, a developer must ensure that each of the functions only performs one action which should be limited and efficient. Using too many libraries will slow down the application and will also increase the cost.

Read: Why Microservices Architecture

The most prominent examples of FaaS are AWS Lambda, Google Cloud Functions, Microsoft Azure, and IBM Cloud Functions.

Amazon Lambda:

Launched in the year 2014, Amazon Lambda has developed into one of the most vital services. With Lambda one can directly run their code without having to manage the servers.

For example, if you're uploading an image to the server the Lambda function will do its work and will mechanically resize the image in line with the device the user is using be it a laptop, mobile, desktop or tab.

Additionally, it is the platform for Alexa Skills Development and is a useful mechanism for accessing many of AWS’s monitoring features. It has native support for Java, PowerShell, Go, Node.js, C#, Python and Ruby.

Google Cloud Functions

Launched in the year 2018, the Google Cloud Functions permits developers to write codes and to extend and connect to various cloud services which is Google's public Cloud.

The website developer with the Google cloud function can call out one particular function which can perform a determined task that when triggered gives a specific response. It has made it easier for every developer to do coding as they can now just focus more on the coding part rather than maintaining the infrastructure for the application. Google’s function supports JavaScript, Python, Ruby, Java, .NET and PHP.

Microsoft Azure:

Launched just a couple of years after Lambda, Azure has gained a prominent impact since then. The design for Azure by Microsoft has been done keeping developers in mind. The services provided by Azure assist developers to accelerate the application designing and development process.

The pivotal notion behind building this FaaS was to dismiss the time consumed by the application infrastructure development process. Now that time is being reduced one can easily create the software application and upload its code easily. Unlike the other FaaS, where the code only runs when it gets triggered for Azure the developer needs to set the trigger function as well.

IBM Cloud Functions:

Based on Apache Open Whisk, IBM Cloud Functions is a Serverless computing service by IBM. The pivotal aspect of this service is that it accelerates the speed of application development.

The FaaS service assists in building lightweight codes which are solely executed when demanded. This service is vehemently similar to that of Lambda and Google Cloud functions.

Advantages of using Function-as-a-Service

What are the advantages of using FaaS?

Cost efficiency:

one of the very vital advantages of using FaaS is its cost efficiency. Unlike traditional cloud providers, serverless FaaS providers do not charge their clients for idle computation time i.e., one can pay only for the resources they use.

Therefore, when the action has been completed, everything stops - no code runs, no server idles therefore no costs are incurred. Hence the client only pays for as much computation time as they use and one does not need to waste their scrupulous money over-provisioning cloud resources.

Additionally, FaaS is the only model with resource limits on code size, memory, run length and concurrent activations.

Improved developer velocity:

With the usage of FaaS a developer can spend enormous time writing application logic and lesser time worrying about servers and deploys. This advantage of FaaS allows one to focus on the application code which dramatically reduces time to market.

Extremely fast:

FaaS runtime is extremely fast and just takes a millisecond. Many of the systems take minutes and hours however FaaS is charged at a granular level and is billed by the millisecond at blocks of 100, unlike the other models which vehemently take longer hours.

Scales up and down automatically:

With the usage of FaaS, functions are scaled automatically, independently as required. Also, when the demand drops FaaS automatically scales back down.

Requires no capacity planning: FaaS does not require any capacity planning, unlike the other models which are dependent on them.

Major drawbacks of FaaS :

Security issues:

With great advantages come great disadvantages too. A vital drawback FaaS opens up is grievous security issues like hacking and data leakage. If elements such as Lambda functions are running on a multi-tenancy server, a user can easily access each other's sensitive data which leads to data loss and a high risk of cyberattacks.

With less responsibility comes less system control:

With great power comes great responsibility however in the case of FaaS it is with ‘less responsibility comes less system control’. The crucial drawback of using FaaS is the monitoring function applications as how often they occur, the time they take and understanding the pivotal reason why they might be slow.

Therefore there is no possibility of monitoring software as users do not have servers over which they have control or the ability to manage the resources on them.

Signing up to vendor lock-in:

All Cloud provider approaches FaaS unevenly, be it public cloud or open source. Hence while FaaS is being used, moving these services from one cloud to another is not easy. Whereas signing up to a long-term vendor introduces the risk of committing to a cloud which doesn't offer the features end users and it might require in the future in order to deliver business value.

Testing hurdles: It can be very difficult to incorporate FaaS code into the local testing environment, making thorough testing of an application a more intensive task.

Changing scenarios in the Post Pandemic world!

The shift of various industries into a data-driven paradigm as a result of quick technical advancements and innovations has created enormous potential.

Additionally, enterprises that are using this technology to improve their operations in order to promote productivity and cost-efficiency are contributing to the considerable surge in IoT usage.

In the expanding IoT landscape, serverless computing has found use cases in data processing and other major areas as well.

COVID-19's Effect on the Function-as-a-Service (FaaS) Market: During the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in demand for function-as-a-service to develop, execute, and manage application functions rather than having to construct and maintain a complicated infrastructure to provide "work from home" facilities.

The IT sector has embraced function-as-a-service because it offers serverless computing through serverless architecture during the lockdown period, allowing all operations to continue seamlessly and safely.

If you are an entrepreneur who wants to build a FaaS-based web application for your business, then hire experienced developers from Decipher Zone Technologies now.

Posted by Mahipal Nehra | Posted at 22 Aug, 2022 Web