In October of 2008, The Economist published a special report on a then relatively new, rapidly growing IT development, - cloud computing. In the lead article, technology editor Ludwig Siegele defined cloud computing by first giving a very succinct history of computing:
“In the beginning computers were human. Then they took the shape of metal boxes, filling entire rooms before becoming ever smaller and more widespread. Now they are evaporating altogether and becoming accessible from anywhere… Now,… computing is taking on yet another new shape. It is becoming more centralised again as some of the activity moves into data centres. But more importantly, it is turning into what has come to be called a ‘cloud’, or collections of clouds. Computing power will become more and more disembodied and will be consumed where and when it is needed… It will allow digital technology to penetrate every nook and cranny of the economy and of society…”
I was reminded of Siegele’s decade-old article when recently learning about another, relatively new, IT innovation, - serverless computing, - a name that connotes the increasingly disembodied nature of computing. I first came across the term in a Forrester report on the Top Emerging Technologies to Watch in 2018.
Serverless is an approach to software development for quickly building and deploying applications as a collection of loosely coupled modules and microservices. According to Forrester, “Firms report a better software development experience, rapid scaling of services that compose applications, lower costs, and better infrastructure utilization when workloads are variable. They also spend less time maintaining cloud infrastructure.”