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Why serverless technology is the next big movement

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Over the past decade, we’ve seen serverless computing take the cloud computing world by storm. Serverless is a cloud computing application development and execution model that enables developers to build and run application code without provisioning or managing servers or backend infrastructure.

By Jason McGee

When developers first started using serverless technology, they were mostly only using it for Function-as-a-Service, or FaaS. This was useful for event-driven functions, but it was very limited. Recently, we’ve seen serverless expand far beyond FaaS: there is a lot more value by using this technology for more large-scale, compute-intensive workloads. This can include supporting large container-based architectures or even running batch jobs at scale.

As we head into KubeCon 2023, we’ve identified several trends to watch around serverless. We’ve also asked our colleagues at MongoDB to weigh-in with their thoughts on this transformative technology.

Serverless is a developer-first technology

As the role of the developer continues to evolve to meet increasing demands, it’s crucial for organizations to adopt technology that simplifies and enhances the developer experience. Serverless is one of those technologies that is improving developer efficiency. Since serverless platforms often utilize pre-made integrations, developers can quickly utilize application functionality and accelerate market deployment. It’s allowing them to push new boundaries without hindering performance.

At IBM, we’ve built a single, unified serverless platform that is driven by developers who liked the idea of not managing servers, but also disliked working within the small space that FaaS supports. It also allows them to concentrate on coding by freeing up time that was spent managing the infrastructure. IBM Cloud Code Engine takes serverless to the next level. With IBM Cloud Code Engine, developers have a single deployment experience whether they’re running containers, building and deploying source code, or submitting larger batch workloads to the IBM Cloud with a common API and user experience, from one management dashboard, leveraging a simple pay per use consumption model.

Serverless can prevent vendor lockin

IT professionals across industries have a desire for flexibility and adopting technology that don’t create vendor lock-ins. Recent IBM research found that nearly 80% of C-suite executives said workloads being completely portable with no vendor lock-in​ is important or extremely important to the success of their digital initiatives.

While some serverless technology is proprietary and creates vendor lock-in, recently there have been more serverless solutions built on open-source technologies such as Kubernetes, Istio, knative and Paketo. This means that the workloads running are more portable compared to the proprietary options. IBM believes that today’s organizations need to work with an ecosystem of partners to succeed, even if they’re competitors. Our partner ecosystem approach upends the traditional paradigm of competition, moving away from rivalries toward a more fluid and collaborative path to success. Through this lens, serverless can help put an end to complexities brought on by vendor lock-in.

Serverless supports compute intensive workloads

Enterprises today are rapidly adopting more compute intensive technology, such as High-Performance Computing (HPC) and AI. While these technologies can be incredibly valuable, the costs and skills associated with these solutions can prohibit adoption. For example, HPC users tend to have domain expertise — such as EDA, simulations, financial modeling — but they don’t have the skills to provision, manage and secure infrastructure. Serverless does all that for them. AI workloads need to come to the market quickly because of tremendous competitive pressures. They’re also usually very expensive, so businesses want an infrastructure that enables rapid enablement and pay-per-use models, which serverless achieves.

We also had Chris Shum, Director, Product Management, MongoDB weigh-in with his thoughts on where serverless is going:

“We’re seeing a paradigm shift where serverless is becoming a developer’s best friend for building modern applications. With databases being the backbone of applications it’s important that they too, embrace this shift to deliver a developer-first experience. At MongoDB, developer centricity is a cornerstone of who we are as a company and our mission is to make developers’ lives easier when working with data – so for us, embracing serverless is critical. Not only in ensuring our developer data platform, MongoDB Atlas, can be seamlessly integrated into serverless architectures but that the core tenets of serverless are also embedded into everything we offer. This enables developers to focus on what matters — building innovative applications rather than managing their database. Together with partners like IBM, we can give developers solutions to capitalize on the benefits of serverless with a modern, elastically scalable database alongside a fully managed containerized environment to run their code, so they can meet the demands of the most dynamic applications without being bogged down by infrastructure complexities.”

IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider, helping clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM's hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently, and securely. IBM's breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM's legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity, and service.

For more information, visit: www.ibm.com.



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