Both serverless and microservices technology have been designed to host highly scalable solutions. But they are not the same thing. In this blog, we will look at what serverless architecture is, its benefits, challenges and if Serverless Architecture is right for you?
A Brief History of App Development:
Like everything in technology, microservices and serverless are responses to specific problems. The traditional way to build web-based applications is to implement the monolithic architecture, which essentially consists of: i) A central database, ii) A web server and iii) A user interface. This required hosting the physical database and web server on-premises as well as employing an in-house technical team to maintain the architecture.
As the scale of the enterprise expands, this architecture becomes unscalable. Due to the high technical overheads, they were less adaptable, more resource-intensive and generally more expensive to manage. To overcome this problem, companies needed an agile, scalable, and cost-effective architecture while maintaining performance. These requirements have spawned serverless and microservice technologies that are designed to host highly scalable solutions.
So, What is Serverless Architecture?
Serverless architecture provides a way for companies to build and run applications without having to manage the infrastructure. It provides a way to remove architectural responsibilities from the workload, including provisioning, scaling or expansion, and maintenance. Scaling can be automatic; you only pay for what you use. The real meaning of serverless is that the organization does not need to invest or maintain physical hardware. Instead, you rely on a trusted third party to manage the maintenance of the physical infrastructure, including servers, networks, storage, etc. This method allows your organization to develop applications without managing infrastructure. A few popular third-party serverless platforms include i) AWS Lambda, ii) Microsoft Azure Functions and iii) Google Cloud Platform Functions
- A recent O’Reilly survey found that 40 percent of organizations adopted serverless architecture.
- Another 2020 survey found that 50% of AWS users were using the serverless function.
- The serverless market is expected to be at $7.7 billion at the end of 2021, up from $1.9 billion in 2016.
The main reasons behind the adoption include reduced costs, scalability, developer productivity, and more, per the chart below.
Serverless Includes Two Different Perspectives:
Function as a Service (FaaS):
An evolved model that allows developers to run application code modules (functions) instantly without worrying about back-end infrastructure or system requirements.
Backend as a Service (BaaS):
A model in which the entire back end of the system (database, storage, etc.) is processed independently and provided as a service. One can consider outsourcing back-end services to a third party for maintenance and management, allowing their organization to focus on development of core functions.
On the notion of adopting serverless on a large scale by all most organizations, the research uncovered concerns about safety, fear of the unknown, and the lack of suitable employees. Since, serverless is relatively easier, team expertise and skilled competency is still required.
What are the Advantages of Using Serverless Architecture?
- The main advantage is that your developers can focus on core product development. They no longer need to be responsible for managing and operating servers. Components such as the network configuration or the physical security of the server are handled by the vendor, not your team.
- Decomposition drives have better observability-with serverless, you can decompose your application into smaller and smaller parts, called decomposition. In this way, you will get better observability throughout the application. For smaller parts, less knowledge is required to make changes or create bugs and fixes.
- Serverless is event-based-Serverless uses an event-based system instead of a stream-based system. Using an event-based architecture, each subsection of the application is independent. Events trigger each other. In stream-based services, each service has a connection. If a failure occurs, it will only affect the event and not the entire log.
- You can quickly deploy applications in a matter of hours because no infrastructure can overwhelm you. As the speed of deployment increases, so does scalability. By using such an agile architecture, you can be very flexible in the release. With serverless architecture you get faster deployment, greater flexibility and accelerated innovation.
- Because this is a faster process, you can accelerate innovation and this flexibility is especially valuable in emergency situations. In response to this pandemic, these types of scenes are spreading all over the world. The organization must change its focus to meet emerging needs.
- Since there are no servers, the organization is actually outsourcing server and database management, it reduces the cost of architecture. You are no longer responsible for the huge investment required for internal architecture management. Ultimately, your use case will define how much you can save.
- If your application has end users (and they might do), they have high expectations for the digital experience. If you no longer care about the architecture, then it will leave more time to deal with the user experience (UX). You cannot help but invest in the user interface, so serverless can provide you with a way to reallocate resources.
Challenges of Serverless Environments:
- Applications or functions that have been inactive for a long time may require a cold start to run, which requires more time and effort to initialize resources
- Sign long-term contracts with management third parties
- Business logic or technical changes may make the transition to other vendors challenging
- If/when adjacent tenants deploy error codes, the multi-tenant serverless platform may introduce performance issues or errors in the pooling platform
Is Serverless Architecture the Right Option for You Then?
Serverless architecture is just one more option for deploying applications. Being able to monitor and troubleshoot serverless is also critical. Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages of serverless architectures. Determining which architecture to go with comes down to analysing your company’s business goals and product scope. If cost and a quick deploy-to-market are your priorities, then serverless is a better option. Every industry, from manufacturing to finance to education to even government, can benefit from serverless architectures. Your employees and clients will be asking for serverless solutions sooner rather than later. For those looking to build event-based apps quickly and efficiently, serverless computing is the way to conserve resources, increase efficiency, and boost productivity. To know more about how we can engineer a serverless architecture for you, contact us today.