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What is FaaS? Working, Principles, and Advantages

  • Ashesh Anand
  • Jul 06, 2022
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The growing popularity of Cloud computing has sparked a new technology revolution that includes a slew of cutting-edge technologies. Function as a Service (FaaS) and serverless are two such technologies that have risen to prominence as a result of cloud computing's popularity.


In the area of software architecture, function or functions as a service (FaaS) is a popular issue. By 2026, the market is expected to reach $31.53 billion. The developer community has been paying close attention to FaaS, which is one of the fastest-growing cloud delivery models. It's already affecting the way people buy technology, as well as how it's delivered and used.


What is FaaS?


Provisioning and administering virtual or physical servers, as well as operating systems and web server activities, is frequently required for hosting software applications on the internet. 


The cloud provider manages all physical infrastructure, virtual machine operating systems, and web server software automatically with FaaS. Businesses can run applications straight from the cloud rather than on a server.


FaaS (Function As A Service) is a completely new cloud concept that many consider being a game-changer. FaaS is a type of CCS (Cloud Computing Services) that offers users a platform to design, run, and administer applications, doing so without the time-consuming maintenance and infrastructure development that is often involved with app development and launch. 


A "serverless" architecture can be achieved by building the program using this concept. This model is mostly used to create microservices. FaaS (Function-as-a-Service) is a cloud computing service that allows users to respond to events by executing code such as Javascript, Linux, or HTML without having to develop any complicated infrastructure (i.e., the infrastructure associated with building and launching microservice apps).


Also Read | What is Hybrid Cloud Computing? Working System and Advantages


An In-depth Understanding of FaaS


To completely comprehend the FaaS paradigm and how it may benefit software developers, we must first define two key terms:


  • What is Serverless Architecture, exactly?


  • What is the definition of a function?


The term "serverless architecture" does not imply that the program runs without the use of a server. Any application deployment, it should go without saying, necessitates the use of a hardware host. 


A key characteristic of serverless architecture, also known as serverless computing, is that a cloud service provider manages application servers and dynamically allocates storage space based on user needs. Serverless architecture is only serverless for the developer in this sense; cloud service providers are still heavily involved in server maintenance.


A function is a task or activity that may be expressed as a separate piece of code and executed independently within an application. Functions can be thought of as microservice architecture extensions:


The monolithic architecture was used in the early days of application development. The program was designed as a single executable that was required to be run at the same time. Software developers increasingly chose a microservice architecture for application design as best practices improved. 


Applications were reimagined as a modular collection of microservices that could be tested, maintained, and deployed separately. A microservice could be considered a function if it can only do one action in response to an event. More complicated microservices with several activities can be made up of various functions.


Principles of FaaS


  1. Servers are completely abstracted from the developer.


  1. Billing is based on consumption and executions rather than the size of the server instance.


  1. Event-driven and immediately scalable services


How does FaaS Work?


The monolithic architecture was commonly used in early applications. As a result, the application was designed as a single operation that had to be executed all at once. Microservices have become more popular among developers over time. 


Microservices are a set of components that can be deployed independently. They are easier to test and maintain because they may be worked on separately.

A function is effectively a microservice that can only respond to one event with one action. When a function is invoked in FaaS, the provider will start a server. It will run the code and then turn off the server. When the server is turned off, the serverless services are only active when the function is being used, allowing the same computer resources to be deployed elsewhere.


Developers who use FaaS have access to a platform where they can run their applications' code. The strength of FaaS is its simplicity. To get the most out of FaaS, developers must make sure that each function only performs one activity. 


The function's scope should be constrained and efficient. Using too many libraries or requesting one function to call another will cause the program to slow down and cost more.


Also Read | What is SAAS? Services, Advantages & Challenges


Overview of FaaS


FaaS is a subset of the larger concept of serverless computing. Servers do exist, but they are abstracted to the greatest extent possible. You don't have to worry about upkeep, security, or elasticity. Everything scales as needed depending on the number of requests received.

All you have to do now is construct your function and assign it a trigger. The serverless computing service produces a container in milliseconds when triggered, which runs your code and gives the desired output. Among other things, the outcome can be a computational output or a JavaScript output.


Despite the fact that serverless computing is a relatively new idea, all major cloud platforms support FaaS. Even edge providers provide FaaS and reduce latency by executing functions as close to the end-user as possible.


You can deploy your own serverless framework with many different open-source alternatives, such as Knative, Kubeless, and OpenWhisk, in addition to leveraging FaaS provided by cloud providers. All of this is powered by a Kubernetes cluster, which you can set up on any public or private cloud, or on bare metal in your own data center.


Another advantage of FaaS is that it is designed to be highly available. It can only go down in two situations: 


  1. If your cloud provider goes down, or 


  1. If you make a change to the service that damages it and then deploy it to production without testing it. In that situation, you can still quickly roll back. 


However, in the first situation, the only way to avoid problems is to use a multi-cloud solution.


Also Read | Best SaaS Tools


Benefits of utilizing FaaS


  1. Increased developer productivity


FaaS allows developers to focus on building application logic rather than worrying about servers and deployments. This usually translates to a substantially shorter development timeframe.


  1. Scalability is built-in


Developers don't have to worry about designing contingencies for high traffic or heavy use because FaaS programming is inherently scalable. All scaling issues will be handled by the serverless provider.


  1. Cost-effectiveness


Serverless FaaS companies, unlike standard cloud providers, do not charge their customers for idle computing time. As a result, clients simply pay for the amount of compute time they utilize, rather than wasting money on over-provisioning cloud resources.


Drawbacks of FaaS


  1. Less control over the system


Having a third-party control part of the infrastructure makes it difficult to comprehend the entire system and complicates debugging.


  1.  Testing requires more complexity


Integrating FaaS code into a local testing environment can be tricky, making complete testing of an application more complex.


Also Read | What is Microsoft Azure and Why it is Used?


Relation between IaaS, PaaS, and FaaS


Cloud computing services include Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and FaaS. The distinction is the level of abstraction between the user and the infrastructure they supply.


The lowest degree of abstraction is provided by IaaS. Users who utilize IaaS have complete control over their infrastructure, as well as the software and tools that go with it, but they don't have to manage or control the physical infrastructure, such as bare-metal servers or data centers. 


IaaS allows developers to pick and choose which abstraction layers they want to use. They can opt to manage everything themselves, or they can layer in features like load balancers and managed services like Managed Kubernetes and Managed Databases to make it easier to maintain their application.


For the end-user, PaaS adds another layer of abstraction. Users that use PaaS don't have to worry about managing their application's operating system, runtime, or other infrastructure components, but they do have granular control over the underlying application and infrastructure options. 


For developers wishing to launch apps quickly, PaaS provides a completely managed infrastructure option. Developers who choose for PaaS can concentrate on their development work while the provider handles backend services and system administration.


FaaS provides the most abstraction for the user and the most particular functionality of the three. Developers have access to a platform that executes application logic on demand, and the service provider manages all application resources and other infrastructure components.


Also Read | What is Backend as a Service (BaaS)?


Points to keep in mind before choosing FaaS


From web apps to data processing and online chatbots to backend functions and more, FaaS can be used in a variety of ways. Consider the following before choosing a FaaS provider:


  1. Workloads: FaaS is a good choice for simple and repetitive tasks that don't require a lot of work or a lot of requests. Because FaaS is often charged per function executed, charges for heavy usage may be greater than if you used a PaaS solution. 


FaaS is a wonderful solution for simplifying provisioning and saving money if your workload is relatively minimal.


  1. Control: One of the most abstracted cloud products is FaaS. Think about how much visibility and control you want over your setups and infrastructure. Try a PaaS solution if you want a little more control than FaaS while keeping the same simplicity of use. 


A IaaS solution should be considered by teams who desire complete control over their production environment, as well as the design and behavior of their infrastructure.


  1. Vendor lock-in: It is a term used to describe a situation in which a vendor Migrating applications created by providers might be difficult. It's easier to move computing activities from one provider to another when you use open-source cloud technologies.


Difference between FaaS and Serverless


Initially, the terms FaaS and serverless were used interchangeably, but serverless has come to refer to a broader range of architectural patterns and practices that make substantial use of common services in addition to FaaS-encoded bespoke business logic.


Microservices and even classic programs can employ serverless as long as they can be containerized and follow the dynamic scale and state management criteria.


The phrase "serverless" is also applied to managed services, such as databases and messaging systems, where a developer or administrator is not necessary to administer the system because it is maintained by a cloud provider or a third-party organization.


The strongest benefits for serverless developers come from a combination of FaaS and common back-end services (such as databases, messaging, and authentication) connected largely through an event-driven architecture.


Also Read | An Introduction to Multi-Cloud


Servers irritate developers. The concept of serverless architectures is a godsend for programmers. However, we do not believe FaaS is a comprehensive replacement for traditional application architectures. 


As a result, a basic web application would require a large number of functions. There's a lot to like about serverless computing. It makes it simple to migrate to the cloud or create new services.


You can focus on your business, your application, and your logs without the hassle of managing servers, and you'll save money by just paying for what you need

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