As Ryan Kroonenburg prepared to apply for a solutions architect job at Amazon Web Services in 2015, he was stunned by the cost of training required for the necessary certifications. Many online courses cost $2,000, with as many as five required for each credential he needed.
The situation sparked an idea to create his own training courses. The first one, which he recorded in his London apartment, was a viral success. That’s when he knew he needed a scalable platform to take his venture to the next level. After enlisting his brother, a software developer, to help, the two realized they didn’t have the funds to pay for dozens of physical or virtual servers needed to run their fledgling business. That’s when they discovered Lambda, an Amazon “serverless” platform that offers almost infinitely scalable computing.
“Serverless is the next big revolution,” Kroonenburg said in a video interview at AWS Summit 2017. “You don’t have to worry about servers; you can just focus on your code.”
That’s possible because serverless abstracts away most of the burdensome, often repetitive tasks like provisioning infrastructure. It allows operations to focus on the business logic at the heart of an application, explained Nande Konst, a developer, in a contributed article to Medium.
Kroonenbug also discovered that the cost for serverless was “ridiculously cheap.” He said workloads that would have cost him $30,000 per month on cloud servers were now a small fraction of that, thanks to a combination of promotional pricing and the much lower cost of serverless functions.
The cost plummets with the serverless public cloud model because it allows users like Kroonenburg to pay for the actual amount of resources consumed by an application, rather than having to pre-purchase units of capacity. The cloud provider owns and runs the server and dynamically manages the allocation of machine resources, keeping a tally and charging only for usage.
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In this way, serverless advances cloud computing’s “pay by the drink” model with pricing that’s pegged to the service rather than the overhead of the supporting infrastructure.
Serverless computing allowed the Kroonenburg brothers to found A Cloud Guru, which has more than 850,000 customers who pay less than $30 per month for unlimited access to a growing library of more than 60 courses. The infrastructure cost is a fraction of conventional servers and scalability has never been an issue, allowing the Kroonenburg brothers to run their small business on a tight budget.
Making Infrastructure Invisible
Whereas cloud computing made the management of physical servers invisible to the user, serverless computing does away with the need to set up and administer servers altogether by supplying software functions as a service.
Unlike full-blown software-as-a-service applications, functions can be tasks, such as checking a credit card number against a list of stolen accounts. Users access software functions without knowing or caring where they run. Developers can be more productive because they’re freed from the need to attend to infrastructure. Businesses benefit from lower costs and the ability to build applications that are easier to scale and modify.