Going serverless is turning into a big trend this past year. Thanks to the nature of cloud computing, you no longer have to maintain your own physical servers or even settle for an always-on cloud computing service. Today, it’s possible for small businesses to set up a mix of cloud and on-premise as well as public; private; and hybrid architecture to be more efficient using on-demand serverless services.
Going down the serverless route comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. The boost in efficiency is certainly a huge plus, but you also have other factors to consider before finalizing your decision to go completely serverless. Let’s take a closer look at the advantages and weigh them against the challenges of going serverless.
Zero Infrastructure Maintenance
Serverless computing sees code or microservices as an entity to be executed once per call or request. It is completely hardware-agnostic; in fact, it is environment-agnostic. You don’t have a dedicated cloud environment to maintain.
The same set of environments is used by multiple code or services. You are basically ‘borrowing’ someone else’s computer to execute your microservices. Pay a small fee for every execution and you can completely forget about the complex tasks associated with infrastructure maintenance.
Another benefit you can gain from the nature of the serverless approach is improved cost-efficiency. With traditional cloud computing, you pay for the allocated resources whether you use them or not. Yes, the costs of cloud services are calculated hourly, but the previous statement is still true in most circumstances.
That is not the case with serverless computing. You basically pay for every execution of your code or services, but you get to spend $0 when you are not using any computing power. You will be able to reduce your server costs by a substantial margin.
There is even a minimum cap, so you can use computing power without spending a dime when you don’t exceed the minimum amount. Be sure to consult the serverless computing service provider for details about the minimum cap.
Higher scalability is, without question, one of the biggest advantages of serverless computing. You are no longer limited by the boundaries of a cloud computing cluster. You also have a larger network of servers and computing powers to utilize.
No matter how complex the execution is, a capable serverless environment can scale your app or service up infinitely. In fact, the entire process of scaling up your app or service can be fully automated. After all, you only need to worry about the small cost of executing your code.
That last part about automation is important to understand. Scaling up in a serverless environment doesn’t involve creating a new partition or making changes to the ecosystem. It is fully automated from start to finish.
A lack of restrictive environment parameters is the last benefit we are going to include in this list. There are no hardware limitations or specific server parameters to take into account when developing and deploying for a serverless environment.
This gives you extra flexibility and allows your services or app to be more robust when deployed. The flexibility alone will completely transform DevOps.
It adds an extra layer to Ops, with DevOps-serverless hybrid becoming an attractive option in industries like finance and retail. Add the fact that you can execute even the most complex code in a serverless environment, and we have the future of collective computing indeed.
Things to Anticipate
We’ve covered a lot of benefits you can gain from switching to a serverless environment. Serverless computing will only be more popular going forward, but that doesn’t mean you should jump in and join the movement and begin migrating your services or apps to a serverless environment.
Security should be of paramount importance as you begin looking into the serverless environment further. There are more security threats to mitigate, including insecure serverless deployment and DDoS attacks. A serverless environment also has more dependencies to third-party services and components, and those dependencies are among the things you need to review as well.
Debugging is also a bit more difficult in a serverless environment. You rely heavily on the tools provided by your serverless computing service provider to debug serverless services or functions. That process requires a lot of resources and will take longer to complete.
Vendor lock-in might be a consideration to factor in to account. If you optimize serverless architecture through one cloud service provider (e.g., Google Cloud Functions or AWS Lambda) you’ll have to make significant code base changes to move to another CSP.
Complex applications are also hard to build with serverless architecture. Managing and coordinating all the serverless function dependencies will be a tough challenge with large, complicated apps.
Latency issues are another drawback. If your application solution requires speed, such as ecommerce or search sites, then serverless may not be for you either. During periods of inactivity, the CSP tends to drop the container which runs functions. So, you will have to wait until the provider provisions a new container where the function will run when it’s pinged by an application—which may cause some latency. This is called a cold start.
Making Your Decision
So, is serverless computing the right approach for you? Take the benefits we reviewed in this article into account and make sure you consider the challenges along the way. Think about how you can handle the migration process or reach out to speak to us at Caylent today to discuss your options.
For more on going serverless, check out Caylent CTO, Stefan Thorpe’s post on Leveraging Serverless Architecture here.
Caylent provides a critical DevOps-as-a-Service function to high growth companies looking for expert support with Kubernetes, cloud security, cloud infrastructure, and CI/CD pipelines. Our managed and consulting services are a more cost-effective option than hiring in-house, and we scale as your team and company grow. Check out some of the use cases, learn how we work with clients, and read more about our DevOps-as-a-Service offering.