Skip to main content

You are here

Submission #15

Submission information
Submitted by Michael Howell
Fri, 04/13/2018 - 7:40pm

Hot Tech Topics Series – Serverless Computing

Michael Conlin, Institute for Innovation, Innovators Circle Initiative Leader, DXC Technology

Serverless computing is a workload execution model that requires far fewer servers and significantly less effort to engineer, provision, and manage them.

Let’s start with a familiar scenario – the Automated Teller Machine (ATM). Suppose you go to your nearest ATM, put in your card, enter your PIN, and select Account Balance. A request goes off to the bank’s data center to query the account balance. The result is displayed on the ATM screen. To make this happen the bank needs adequate machine resources on-hand, idle and reserved for account queries. This requires an up-front investment. Now suppose the bank operated in the cloud. With Serverless Computing the account query function could be implemented as a few lines of code – an atomic element of business functionality – without the need for machine resources to be on-hand, idle and reserved. When a customer selects Account Balance at the ATM, the cloud provider turns on the code and machine resources, performs the query, and releases the machine resources. The bank only pays for the specific resources used for the specific event.

Thus our definition - Serverless Computing is a workload execution model in which a cloud provider dynamically manages the allocation of machine resources. Pricing is typically based on the actual amount of resources consumed by an event. It is a fine-grained form of utility computing in which even the most atomic element of business functionality can be processed on a per event basis. So the term Serverless doesn’t mean there are no servers; it means there are less of them and there is significantly less effort involved to engineer, provision, and manage them.

Why is Serverless Computing such a hot tech topic?

Serverless Computing offers one very big value proposition, along with one medium and one small value proposition. The very big value proposition is accelerated time to value. Machine resources don’t create business value. Applications create mission value, because they provide users with the features and functions they need. So any practice that shifts IT people away from machine resources and toward mission functionality means the mission can change faster. With Serverless Computing your IT department (and partners) can focus on developing new applications – new mission functionality – instead of managing servers, storage, networks and data centers. And since that functionality can be tightly focused, it can be developed, tested, deployed and changed faster than with traditional software. That’s mission value.

The medium value proposition is improved decision making. Because Serverless Computing makes it possible to utilize – and more importantly pay for – only the specific resources used for a specific event. There are no fixed costs, few indirect costs, and less overhead. That all adds up to greater transparency to the actual IT costs of a mission event, which means managers can now make budgeting decisions with greater confidence.

The small value proposition is a material reduction in the volume of under-utilized machine resources. Remember our ATM scenario? In order to provide an acceptable user experience (UX) the bank has to have adequate machine resources available and idle. Note that ‘available and idle’ means ‘paid for but not generating value’.

Caveat Emptor

Your mileage may vary. One size does not fit all. Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.

Michael Conlin, Institute for Innovation, Innovators Circle Initiative Leader, DXC Technology

Return to Newsletter