Technology runs on servers, right? Then so, what’s this “serverless architecture” idea all about? Turns out, it’s less about excluding servers, and more about changing where (and by whom) they’re managed. (Of course, there are a lot more essentials details to it!)
In this post, we’ll talk about what is serverless architecture, how it’s grown, and what are its pros and cons. If you’re someone who’s trying to decide if serverless computing is right for you or not, this article can provide you guidance.
Table of Contents
What is Serverless Architecture?
Without having to manage the actual servers, Serverless Architecture offers a way to manage apps and services.
Although “Serverless” is in the name, it does not imply that servers are out of the picture. Its called serverless because now you no longer have to deal with the infrastructure. Instead, the charge falls on the cloud providers.
This allows companies to focus more on product development and achieving business goals. Infrastructure goes out of the picture. Since the early days of computing, software systems have evolved remarkably.
Computers continued to become more and more robust with time. So, it became more likely that server tasks would not demand a dedicated computer to perform them. This drove to the next phase of the evolution of services: virtualization.
What is Virtualisation?
Sharing a computer’s resources among several independent OS using software is Virtualisation. It enables you to use a system’s full capacity by distributing its capabilities among many users or environments.
The Current State of Serverless
Serverless generally refers to an API that depends on microservices, with code, hosted FaaS platforms. Amazon Lambda, Google Cloud Functions, Microsoft Azure Functions, and IBM Cloud Functions are a few examples of FaaS.
Amazon provides serverless computing offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS). With Amazon Lambda, you can directly run your code without having to manage the servers. For instance, you upload an image on the server. Now the Lambda function will automatically resize the image according to the device you are using.
Pros and Cons of Serverless Architecture
Serverless computing has its benefits but it also brings along a few disadvantages. Let’s take a look at them
Pros of Serverless Architecture:
Wondering why the emphasis is being put on switching to serverless computing?
We all know that hosting software usually includes managing server infrastructure. This means a virtual or physical server is to be managed. Using a virtual server from a cloud provider such as Amazon or Microsoft means the elimination of the physical hardware concerns.
1. Reduced Costs
When going serverless, there are no hardware costs and null costs for when your services are not in use. This is one of the main advantages of going serverless. The cost of provisioning servers and managing that 24×7 server team is gone. With serverless, you are charged for the number of executions.
2. Fewer Things to Worry About
You no longer have to be checking if the latest technology has been applied. Since now your servers are now being managed by the third party, it is their job to keep up with the technology and to fix bugs.
3. Enhanced Scalability
You may want to build an app as viral as Instagram. With serverless computing, you don’t have to think twice about provisioning the infrastructure. It automatically scales with the traffic volumes.
Scaling is also dependent on the location of users and their web connection. Serverless providers diminish delays and enable apps to function as they should, regardless of your geographic location.
4. More Focus on User Experience
Your users don’t care much about infrastructure; all they care about are the features.
With server maintenance out of the picture, you can spend more time and effort to improve the customer interface elements. A quality UX design is essential to keep users engaged with your app.
Cons of Serverless Architecture:
Sometimes traditional architecture comes out on top, regardless of all the great features that serverless offers.
Some potential drawbacks of going serverless are:
1. Vendor Lock-In
You’re going by their rules now. You lose control over the run times, hardware, and updates. This limits the resources you have available and can create issues inconsistency.
When you commit to a service provider, you are stuck for the long-run. If you build your application on one serverless infrastructure, and then you want to switch to another party, they don’t make it easy to switch. It is a very difficult process. They may even ask you to re-engineer your application if you wish to do so.
2. Unsuitable For Long-Term Tasks
Serverless is great for short-term or real-time processes like sending out emails. However, for long-duration tasks, where functions are running constantly, you’ll find yourself paying more for compute time than when paying for a reserved case. A task like uploading large files would need extra functions to be called on.
For example, Lambda gives you five minutes to finish a task. If it takes longer, you need to call another function, and then on until the task is complete. Lambda also imposes a limit on what percentage simultaneous functions are often running, so if you execute too many functions you’ll DoS your production applications
3. Cold Starts
You only pay for what you employ. But if you don’t use your function often, you may pay with a dramatic production penalty. Hosted functions suffer from a cold-start penalty and may be very slow the 1st time they’re called in a while.
However, you can minimize cold starts by keeping your functions small and precise. (cold starts to increase with code size and memory). This can help keep your functions warm. (The downside is that it’s complicated and inefficient to manage numerous small functions).
The learning curve in the serverless applications could be a steep one. Units of integration with serverless are smaller than with other architectures. this needs time beyond regulation to travel into organizing the functions so that they add line together with your data. There may also be problems with deployment and versioning.
AWS functions are time-restricted, allowing you a maximum of 5 minutes. If you have got a task that needs a huge amount of information that might exceed these runtime limits, a huge effort will go in rewriting the code in another architecture. You must deploy a separate piece of code for each function in your entire logical application.
Some frameworks allow you to deploy a set of AWS resources. Although it’s tougher to update multiple functions than to update a monolithic architecture. Yet, if you want to migrate your application over to serverless, you should tackle the complicated task of splitting your monolithic application to microservices.
So, to sum up. What is Serverless architecture? Well, it is a new way of writing and deploying an application that allows developers to concentrate on code. Such an approach can lessen the time to market, operational costs, and system complexity. While serverless leverage third-party services such as AWS Lambda to diminish the necessity to set-up and configure servers, it also secures in the application and its architecture.
In the future, we can await more movement towards the union of FaaS APIs or frameworks such as IronFunctions that will assist to avoid vendor lock-in and allow us to operate serverless applications on different cloud providers or even on-premises.
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