I don’t think it’s that com­pli­cat­ed: If you can’t see the servers in the ser­vice, then it’s server­less. Yeah, they’re still there, but the whole point is that you can most­ly not wor­ry about them.

[This is part of the Server­less­ness se­ries.]

That doesn’t work just for func­tion­s: Lots of ser­vices, for ex­am­ple RDS (in cer­tain fla­vors), Elas­ticSearch, and Ama­zon MQ, re­quire that you pick an in­stance that the ser­vice runs on be­fore you start. Let’s ex­tend the nomen­cla­ture a bit; if any­thing re­quires that you pre-provision IOPS (or oth­er unit of ca­pac­i­ty), then that’s not so server­less.

Launching an Amazon MQ broker

It’s a great ser­vice, but it’s not server­less.

Ety­mol­o­gy · Sev­er­al peo­ple, start­ing with Wern­er Vo­gel­s, have griped about the name “serverless”, find­ing it ill-conceived and point­ed in the wrong di­rec­tion, pre­fer­ring pos­i­tive rather than neg­a­tive names. Fair enough, but too bad, English is not just a liv­ing lan­guage but a hasty, im­pul­sive, pig­head­ed one, and it’s set­tled on “Serverless” now, so just deal.

By the way, any fool can plain­ly see that the op­po­site of Server­less is Server­ful, with just one trail­ing “l”, just like faith­ful, sin­ful, and skill­ful.

It’s not bi­na­ry · I hearti­ly rec­om­mend Ben Kehoe’s The Server­less Spec­trum in sup­port of this point. Let me il­lus­trate by ex­am­ple: Your ba­sic en­ter­prise Or­a­cle de­ploy­ment is the most server­ful thing imag­in­able; with the pri­ma­ry, fall­back, and stand­by in­stances, it’s triply server­ful! RDS Auro­ra Server­less is more server­less, and while Dy­namoDB has al­ways been even more server­less, with the ad­vent of On-Demand mode, it’s re­al­ly server­less.

Another ex­am­ple: An EC2 in­stance is hard­ly server­less, a Dock­er con­tain­er launched in Far­gate is re­al­ly pret­ty server­less, while a Lamb­da func­tion is the epit­o­me of server­less­ness.

I think we are past the time to ar­gue about what “serverless” mean­s.


author · Dad · software · colophon · rights

December 10, 2018
· Technology (85 fragments)
· · Cloud (15 more)

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