January 19, 2018

Serverless computing is not new, but it has yet to assume as much importance as containers. Will that change in 2018? The recent KubeCon event suggests serverless is about to explode as the next big thing in the microservices world.

What Is Serverless Computing?

Serverless computing refers to services that allow applications to execute code, usually in a cloud-based environment, without the necessity of maintaining a complete server environment.

It is “serverless” in the sense that the organization doesn’t have to set up or maintain a server in order to run code.

A (Really) Brief History of Serverless Frameworks

On-demand computing platforms that provide serverless services have existed since the mid-2000s, when solutions such as Zimki and Google App Engine appeared.

However, it did not start to go mainstream until the launch of Lambda, a serverless computing framework in the AWS cloud, in 2014.

Since then, the other major public cloud hosts have followed suit by creating their own serverless offerings, such as Azure Functions and Google’s Cloud Functions.

Future-Gazing

To date, serverless computing has been important, but not supremely important. It hasn’t acquired the mindshare of Docker containers, or been the source of as much disruption in the industry.

Although a few companies are using serverless frameworks to do things such as host websites, examples of real-world use cases are few and far between.

That may change in 2018. KubeCon and CloudNativeCon 2017 featured an entire track related to serverless computing, along with announcements like the availability of a new serverless framework, Fn, on Kubernetes.

There were also a number of talks (some of which you can find here) on topics including how it differs from functions as a service, and what its future could hold.

KubeCon is not representative of the IT industry as a whole, of course. But it was the most recent major event that focused on the container and microservices ecosystem. And for the first time, serverless computing emerged as a dominant topic of interest.

Does that mean 2018 is poised to become the Year of Serverless Computing? It seems a safe bet.

Christopher Tozzi

Christopher Tozzi has covered technology and business news for nearly a decade, specializing in open source, containers, big data, networking and security. He is currently Senior Editor and DevOps Analyst with Fixate.io and Sweetcode.io.