We’ve barely caught our breath from the emergence of containers, and already serverless is picking up as a notable trend in the world of enterprise applications. And big vendors are not wasting any time in catching on. As software pros gear up for Oracle OpenWorld 2017, they may want to keep their ears open for announcements around what the goliath company plans to do around serverless.
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“We do believe that serverless is the future,” Said Bob Quillin, vice president of the Oracle container group, in an interview I recently conducted with him about the company’s plans around contianers and other infrastructure trends. “There’s a whole set of technologies that we’re investing in currently. We’ll be making some announcements around that at OpenWorld, so stay tuned there.”
Interesting that the company is already making announcements around serverless when the industry is still in the throes of adopting Docker and other technologies needed for application container management. And while Quillin does admit that while the sample size for utilization is still relatively small, the potential makes it worthwhile to the company to support.
“Probably 5% to 10% of applications may fall into the serverless kind of patterns that you could use today,” Quillin said. “But it’s tremendously exciting, and I think it’s an area that we’re definitely investing in.”
While it’s hard to say how much of a role serverless plays in handling enterprise-grade production application workloads, the buzz around this trend may be rapidly pushing it into enterprise application environments. In fact, 451 Research has already released a report that found that this infrastructure approach offers a lower cost of ownership than both virtual machines and containers for the majority of new applications — quite an endorsement.
“Obviously, it all depends on that precise situation,” explained Owen Rogers, research director at 451 Research. “But if you’ve built in a brand new application, maybe in that situation, serverless is going to be better value because you can build it the serverless way.”
So how does it save organizations cash? While it does not eliminate the need for servers, as the name might suggest, a serverless approach will utilize a third-party’s servers for the purposes of application development. This means that the organization will not have to rent or provision servers or virtual machines to development applications. The developers can write their code in response to events as they arise, and won’t have to worry about building and maintaining their own infrastructure.
Though Rogers says that large organizations are putting serverless to use for some day-to-day operations, such as automating processes based on events, identifying and logging events and transferring files, it seems like serverless is still a little ways off from becoming the standard for enterprises. This is especially true, he said, considering that there are still plenty of organizations who have yet to make the transition from virtual machines to containers.
“I don’t think serverless is going to take on the world,” Rogers said. “People have been saying that about containers for the past year, but we still see virtual machines everywhere. There’s so much legacy, so much stuff on virtual machines and containers, not all of them are going to shift to serverless overnight.”
Quillin also said that since many are still playing catch up with other development trends, serverless may take its fair share of time to catch on. However, he is inspired by the work he sees being done even at a small scale by some of today’s organizations.
“It’s at breakneck pace, and many companies are just getting into Docker and DevOps. But there are people who are leveraging serverless in a very powerful way,” Quillin said. “The potential is huge; the less you have to deal with infrastructure in the long-term the better. But there is some work that needs to be done.”