VirtualizationServerless Architecture: What Are the Benefits and Challenges?

Serverless Architecture: What Are the Benefits and Challenges?

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Before cloud computing became mainstream, development teams maintained their own server hardware and took care of their own software and security updates. This was time-consuming, cumbersome, and expensive.

But, thanks to the advent of cloud computing and serverless computing facilitated by third-party companies, development teams are able to build and run their services without having to worry about the infrastructure supporting this activity.

Read more: What Is Serverless Architecture?

How Serverless Computing Works

With serverless computing, typically a function written by a developer is executed based on a trigger. If no server is running, one is started up and the function is executed. All of this is handled on the side of the third-party service.

For example, say you wanted to verify customer data, you could use serverless computing to achieve this. The customers would upload their files, and then a function to ensure all of the files from a particular customer batch are ready would be run to validate the structure of each file.

Why Use Serverless Computing?

Without serverless computing, even if you are using a virtual server, you still have to worry about maintaining infrastructure. However, with serverless computing, you can limit your focus to your code and ensure that it does its job.

A third-party serverless computing provider will take care of the physical hardware, operating system, and web software management. Examples of providers who offer serverless computing functionality include:

  • Twilio Functions
  • AWS Lambda
  • Microsoft Azure Functions
  • Cloudflare Workers
  • Google Cloud Functions

One of the more popular serverless computing architectures is function-as-a-service (FaaS). With this architecture, developers arrange their code into separate functions that perform specific tasks which are executed by events such as incoming emails or event HTTP requests.

This article mainly focuses on this architecture. However, most serverless computing providers offer database and storage services as well.

Read more on TechRepublic: The Best Serverless Computing Solutions

Benefits of Serverless Computing

The use of cloud computing is surging globally, with both smaller companies and even multinational corporations making use of the technology. Here are some of the benefits of using serverless computing architecture:

  • Cost-Effectiveness: With serverless computing, you are only charged based on your actual usage, so you don’t have to spend money on unused servers.
  • Efficiency: By using a serverless architecture, you won’t have to worry about maintaining servers, meaning that your team will be able to dedicate their focus on your codebase.
  • Scalability: It’s easy to scale up code according to your demands. This is handled by your provider.
  • Reduced Time to Market: Since your team only has to worry about the codebase and not about the server infrastructure, the time to get products to market is reduced.

Read more on IT Business Edge: Improving DevOps with Serverless Computing

Serverless Computing Challenges

While there are several benefits of using a serverless computing architecture, you should also consider the challenges associated with this technology when determining if it’s a good fit for you.

  • Lack of Control: With serverless computing, you don’t own or have any control over the server infrastructure. This means that hardware faults, software errors, or other issues affecting your server could drastically impact your operations.
  • Possible Compatibility Issues: You may want to use cloud services from several vendors. While this is possible in theory, if you use one provider for your serverless architecture but want to use their functionality with other cloud services, you may experience compatibility issues.
  • Possible Performance Impacts: When a function hasn’t been used for a while, it is killed. This means that when it is called again, the time it takes the code to run is temporarily slowed, also known as a cold start, which could affect your operations.

Read more on Serverless Functions vs Microservices

Serverless Computing Use Cases

In general, serverless computing is well-suited for teams that want to have smaller functions that need to be hosted. Serverless computing is ideal for several use cases, including:

  • Trigger-Based Tasks: An event that needs to be run based on some trigger is ideal for serverless computing. A good example of this is a welcome email being sent based on a user signing up for a service on your website.
  • Asynchronous Tasks: Serverless computing can take care of back-end processes such as image processing after they are uploaded to a website.
  • Building RESTful APIs: Serverless computing facilitates the building of RESTful APIs, which you can scale up on demand.

Using Serverless Computing to Your Advantage

If you have small functions that you typically host on your own or even on virtual servers, it might be worthwhile for you to look into the advantages of using a serverless computing solution.

You will eliminate the need to have to worry about maintaining your own servers, and you will reap benefits such as cost savings, reduced time to market, and better scalability.

Read next: Best Enterprise-Grade NAS Solutions

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