Serverless computing offers an alternative to traditional compute methods and infrastructure, which frees up time for IT personnel to dedicate to more important tasks. As such, serverless computing is becoming more popular in industry and market trends.
An O’Reilly survey found that 40 percent of respondents worked at a company that had adopted serverless architecture. And a Datadog survey discovered that 50 percent of AWS users were using the serverless function. Furthermore, Precision Reports projects the global serverless architecture market size will reach $10290 million by 2026, from $3570 million in 2019, at a CAGR of 16.2 percent during 2021–2026.
In a market that’s growing so rapidly, it can be difficult to determine which serverless vendor is right for you. Keep your business’s unique needs in mind as you evaluate each solution’s key differentiators.
Top serverless providers
The top serverless providers include:
- Red Hat
- Cloudflare Workers
- AWS Lambda
- Oracle Cloud Functions
- Microsoft Azure Functions
- Google Cloud Functions
- IBM Cloud Functions
Red Hat provides serverless capabilities through Red Hat OpenShift Serverless, which is offered as part of an OpenShift subscription. It provides one-click installation on OpenShift via an Operator.
Apart from the command-line interface (CLI) experience, it provides the serverless develop-and-deploy experience through the DevConsole of OpenShift.
- Containers are made easy with a simplified developer experience to deploy applications and code on serverless containers, abstracting infrastructure and focusing on what matters.
- Perform canary, A/B, or blue-green testing with gradual traffic rollout without difficulty and while following best practices.
- There is no need to configure the number of replicas or idling. With built-in reliability and fault-tolerance, users can automatically scale to zero when not in use or scale to thousands during peak.
- OpenShift Serverless can be deployed on-premises and in public or hybrid cloud environments, allowing users to leverage data locality and SaaS when needed.
- Build loosely coupled and distributed apps connecting with a variety of built-in or third-party event sources or connectors powered by Operators.
- OpenShift Serverless is offered for on-premises installations of the OpenShift Kubernetes platform or in a hybrid context in combination with hosted OpenShift installations.
- As a Knative distribution, it shares benefits such as container-based packaging format, scale-to-zero, sophisticated autoscaling mechanism based on HTTP consumption, production-grade support for event-driven serverless applications backed by Apache Kafka, and support for a functional programming model.
- Cloudflare promises that it needs less than five minutes from signup to global deployment.
- The code runs within milliseconds.
- There is no need to configure auto-scaling and load balancers or to pay for unused capacity.
- Traffic is automatically routed and load-balanced across thousands of servers.
- Code is powered by Cloudflare’s network.
AWS Lambda is a serverless, event-driven compute service that lets you run code for virtually any type of application or back-end service without provisioning or managing servers. You can trigger Lambda from over 200 AWS services and SaaS applications, while only paying for what you use.
- Use Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to trigger AWS Lambda data processing in real-time after an upload, or connect to an existing Amazon EFS file system to enable massively parallel shared access for large-scale file processing.
- AWS Lambda processes data at scale.
- Code is executed at the capacity the user needs.
- AWS Lambda scales to match data volumes automatically.
- Event triggers can be customized to users’ preferences.
- Users can run interactive web and mobile back ends.
Oracle Cloud Functions
Oracle Cloud Functions is a serverless platform that lets developers create, run, and scale applications without managing any infrastructure. In addition, Oracle Cloud Functions integrates with Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, platform services, and SaaS applications.
And because Oracle Cloud Functions is based on the open-source Fn Project, developers can create applications that can be ported to other cloud and on-premises environments.
- Code based on Oracle Cloud Functions typically runs for short durations, and users pay for only the resources they use.
- Users can write and deploy their own code.
- Oracle will automatically provision and scale resources.
- Oracle Cloud Functions automatically packages code as Docker images.
- Advanced developers can use Dockerfiles, install native libraries, and customize the function runtime environment.
- With support for Python, Go, Java, Node, and other languages, developers can choose the most appropriate language for each task and easily integrate their serverless applications.
- Users can use the managed service or self-managed, open source-based Fn clusters deployed on-premises or on any cloud.
Back4App, built on the Parse open-source platform, offers a low-code back end to build applications. It can be used to store and query relational data in the cloud and make it accessible over GraphQL and REST.
- Back4App is easy to integrate on mobile and web apps.
- Users can store and query relational data through GraphQL, REST, or Parse SDKs.
- Business logic can be added using cloud functions.
- Apps can be made faster without managing infrastructure.
- Users can build relational data models in minutes.
- Users can perform complex relational queries in a truly serverless platform.
Progress Kinvey is a serverless application development platform that provides developers tools to build multichannel applications utilizing a cloud back end and front-end SDKs. It provides solutions to development needs such as a data store, data integration, single sign-on integration, and file storage.
- Developers can focus on building what provides value for their app—the user experience (UX) and business logic of the application.
- Apps built in Kinvey are made up of several decoupled parts that work together.
- The client application is the front-end, user-facing part of a Kinvey app.
- The client SDK is the interface between the client and the Kinvey service back end.
- The back-end app contains all APIs and services—data, auth, server-side logic, etc. available for a front-end client app.
- Each backend app can have one or more environments to support the development lifecycle.
Microsoft Azure Functions
Microsoft Azure Functions offers a complete serverless application development experience. From building and debugging locally to deploying and monitoring in the cloud, Microsoft Azure Functions extensions on Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code can be used for faster and more efficient development on a local machine.
- Microsoft Azure Functions can be fully integrated with the whole Azure platform.
- Users can set up continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) with Azure Pipelines.
- Users can get intelligent and proactive insights about the performance of serverless applications in production from Azure Monitor.
- Users can build, debug, deploy, and monitor with integrated tools and built-in DevOps capabilities.
Google Cloud Functions
Google Cloud Functions enables users to run code in the cloud with no servers or containers to manage. Google Cloud Functions is a scalable, pay-as-you-go functions-as-a-service (FaaS) product designed to build and connect event-driven services with single-purpose code.
- Build and deploy a Google Cloud Function with only a web browser using a Quickstart guide.
- Serve users from zero to large-scale.
- Google Cloud Function offers a simplified developer experience and increased developer velocity.
- Write code and let Google Cloud Function handle the operational infrastructure.
- Write and run small code snippets that respond to events.
- Streamline challenging orchestration problems by connecting Google Cloud products to one another or third-party services using events.
IBM Cloud Functions
IBM Cloud Functions is a FaaS platform based on Apache OpenWhisk. It enables developers to run application code without servers, scale it automatically, and pay nothing when it’s not in use.
- Namespaces can be explicitly managed and show up on the dashboard.
- Pay for what time you use down to one-tenth of a second.
- Run actions thousands of times in a fraction of a second, or once a week. Action instances scale to meet demand exactly, then disappear.
- Allow mobile developers to access server-side logic and to outsource compute-intensive tasks to a scalable cloud platform.
- Implement functions in languages like Swift, and consume server-side functions using the iOS SDK.
The Knative open-source framework is used by many other serverless environments. For example, Red Hat OpenShift Serverless is built on top of Knative and runs on Red Hat OpenShift, Red Hat’s enterprise distribution of Kubernetes.
Knative, then, is an open-source, incubating Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) project that offers a container-based serverless solution on top of Kubernetes.
- Knative provides free usage as an open-source platform.
- There is no vendor lock-in.
- It is a platform-agnostic solution for running serverless deployments.
- Users have the ability to scale down to zero and up from zero.
- Choose your rollout strategy depending on your needs.
- Handle events from many sources.
- Run serverless containers in Kubernetes with ease. Knative takes care of the details of networking, autoscaling (even to zero), and revision tracking.
Parse is an open-source platform often used as the foundation for other serverless offerings. It is used to build applications faster with object and file storage, user authentication, push notifications, and dashboards. In addition, Parse Server is an open-source back end that can be deployed to any infrastructure that can run Node.js.
- Parse Server uses MongoDB or PostgreSQL as a database.
- Deploy and run Parse Server on your own infrastructure.
- Develop and test your app locally using Node.
- The platform is easy to run using MongoDB and Parse Server locally.
What is serverless computing?
Serverless computing provides a way to build and run applications and services without the need to manage the underlying server infrastructure, according to Naina Singh, principal product manager at Red Hat. While servers are involved, they are dealt with by a cloud provider. A serverless architecture, therefore, involves allocating compute resources to satisfy user demands.
This frees up in-house IT staff for other responsibilities without having to be concerned with time-consuming duties. Serverless computing alleviates the burden of configuring and maintaining equipment, capacity planning, and fault tolerance. It also handles the management and scaling of containers, physical servers, and virtual machines.
“The serverless name comes from the fact that the tasks associated with servers, such as provisioning, scaling, and managing the infrastructure that is required to run the application, are offloaded from the end-users, making the servers invisible,” said Singh.
Read more: What is Serverless Architecture?
Benefits of going serverless
The benefits of a serverless architecture include:
- Ease of deployment: Instead of weeks to select, procure, and deploy physical servers, serverless computing can be ready in hours. This raises productivity, as time is spent primarily on coding, development, and other duties rather than internal infrastructure.
- Cost: As it is a pay-per-use model, it is often less expensive to rent serverless than to maintain a fixed quantity of servers.
- Scalability: Cloud providers enable storage and compute as well as other physical resources to be added or subtracted at will as a business scales.
- Process independence: A serverless environment is a good way to isolate parts of an application due to its use of an event-based system. Problems, therefore, are contained within a finite area.