How Serverless Applications are Benefiting from Edge Computing

Serverless transforms both the technical and conceptual elements of application development; the same changes will enable the adoption of Edge Computing.

Edge Computing Explained

Edge computation is a concept in which computing and storage are brought closer to the end user. Currently, 10% of company data is produced and processed outside of traditional data center/cloud environments. By 2025, that figure is expected to rise to 75%.

The initial wave of Edge computing is represented by Content Distribution Networks (or CDNs). A CDN stores data required by users in many edge locations closer to the users, lowering transit time and enhancing performance. As CDNs have grown, the maturity of virtualization technologies has allowed code and storage to migrate beyond the cloud/data center. As a result, computing resources are now available as a service in Edge locations.

Edge computing is typically used for real-time and rapid data processing. In contrast to the Cloud, where "Big Data" is the name of the game, as we progress to the Edge, there is a far greater emphasis on real-time "Instant Data."

Edge computing is about reducing bandwidth, power, geographic distance, energy, latency, and traffic.

Edge computing's reduced latency can make some IoT, AI, and ML applications more feasible. Real-time training of autonomous devices, remote surgery, and face recognition are just a few of the emerging technologies that will use Edge computing to some extent.

The growth of 5G and speedier connections and gadgets, in general, is fueling the rise of Edge computing. While edge computing reduces latency by moving processing closer to the consumer, 5G reduces communication delay. Together, 5G and Edge computing have the potential to reduce latency to previously impossible levels, enabling a new generation of applications.

What Exactly is Serverless Computing?

Serverless allows us to design apps and services without having to worry about the underlying servers. It's an imprecise moniker for a wide range of services, but at its heart is an architectural effort to boost agility via lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

Lambda is the most well-known Serverless service. Lambda has altered the way we develop applications, and the variety of triggers for Lambda functions has allowed beautiful event-driven architectures to emerge.

Technology is cyclical in Nature

As an example, consider web apps. Initially, much of the logic resided on the server. When a web page was loaded, a framework and templating engine would populate the dynamic elements of the page with data from a database. The produced HTML page would then be delivered to the client and displayed. As user experiences became more complicated, SPA frameworks like as React and Vue emerged, with a lot more business logic migrating to the client side. As time passed, we began to see the drawbacks: the user experience was sluggish, and SEO suffered. Frameworks like React "reinvented" Server-Side Rendering (SSR), and we witnessed a return to server-side rendering.

A similar cycle has occurred in the way we design complete apps. Computing began on mainframes, then shifted to the client side with the emergence of more powerful PCs, and we are now seeing a return to central cloud providers.

We're set to go through another round.... a shift to the edge.

Edge Computing in the Real World

Edge computing applications include smart CCTV cameras, medical equipment, IoT devices, and CDNs. We're bringing processing closer to where the data is created. In the instance of CCTV, this might be the application of instant fall detection using a model trained to recognize a person falling over – there may be nearly zero latency in the inference of a fall event, which in a manufacturing environment could instantaneously halt machinery.

Edge computing is not without danger. With the fast adoption of IoT across all industries, it's difficult to spend a day without hearing about the security risks of "smart" gadgets. Edge computing services' scalability helps minimize some security issues such as DDoS, but the core computing architecture must adapt to functioning in less trusted contexts.

The Serverless Edge... CenterLess?

Serverless, as previously stated, is all about abstraction. Programmers can write codes of applications without paying attention to technological details. FaaS solutions' pay-per-use pricing structure and ephemeral execution paradigm provide a parallel conceptual model to the Edge environment.

In the realm of the Edge,

•We don't have control over the hardware, thus abstraction is essential.
•Because it is an untrusted environment, we require strict sandboxing.

We frequently analyze uncertain real-time data at scale, thus we require a highly scalable and elastic computation architecture.

Because the usual machines utilized at Edge locations must be tiny and inexpensive, we are working in a low resource environment, compared to contemporary Server sizes, in terms of RAM, CPU, and disk – therefore we must have computing efficiency and compact memory/storage footprints.

All of these problems are Serverless difficulties, implying that the technology, conceptual model, and best practices are complementary to Edge.

Since its start, serverless has grown significantly. The tooling, both on the vendor and open-source sides, has vastly improved. Practitioners have also established best practices and mental models for working in a Serverless environment. All of these advancements will pave the way for the advent of Edge computing.

Developers have become accustomed to developing in a stateless and abstract runtime environment, as well as elegantly interfacing with Serverless databases and third parties. The shift from a Serverless computing model to an Edge computing model is minor, however, moving from a typical Server or even Kubernetes environment is a considerably larger jump–both in logic and technology.

Edge will be Enabled via Serverless Computing

We've observed that Edge computing services are already utilizing Serverless technology. This tendency will continue, but it is nothing compared to the conceptual evolution that Serverless has caused.

Developers adopting a stateless, event-driven, pay-per-use, and distributed attitude is a paradigm change brought about by Serverless. This paradigm shift will also be critical in enabling Edge computing adoption. Furthermore, many of the technologies and best practices that we've been creating for Serverless will serve as the foundation for Edge Computing.

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