One of the buzzwords that you’ll hear these days is “Serverless Computing”. There is an entire community of evangelists out there predicting the apocalypse for server based applications. They make some valid points: servers are complicated, servers are expensive, and servers are unreliable. Perhaps the most compelling reason is, servers aren’t “in” anymore. Or is that really the case? Let’s find out what serverless really means and if all the hype around it is worth paying attention to.

Tell More More About Serverless

When you hear the word “serverless”, you may immediately think that it means you won’t need servers to deploy your application. Yes, that is partly true. However, going serverless doesn’t mean doing away with the servers. Your code and resources will still live and breathe on servers located around the world. The only difference is that you leave all the server configuration in the hands of your cloud service providers (CSP). CSPs, like AWS, offer serverless computing to businesses with the convenience of NOT managing servers to host services, such as a database or a frontend application, in exchange for a pay-as-you-go plan. This trade-off has some exciting implications – especially for new businesses turning to cloud computing.

Why Should I Care About Serverless?

One of the most attractive benefits of serverless is its cheaper price point. Your costs become a function of the usage of your app. Sometimes, cloud service providers offer free pricing tiers for you to try. As a result, you may incur zero costs while developing your product. Using servers on the other hand creates some inherent expenses for your product, such as Devops and on-premise servers.

Similarly, scalability is a great benefit of going serverless. You don’t need to change a thing on the infrastructure whether your app has 5 users or 5 million users. Managing a fleet of servers that can scale in and scale out on demand is simple when you go with serverless because the CSP does it all for you!

Another plus of serverless is that it’s rather easier to debug issues and to introduce new features to your applications. Since you won’t need to deploy new code to servers, you’ll find it easy to isolate issues or work on features in an isolated workspace before testing your code. Not only does this approach make life easy for developers, but it also allows ample transparency for your QA team and business stakeholders to test new releases with relative ease.

What Use Cases Aren’t Ideal for Serverless?

While serverless seems like a great choice for MVPs and businesses with general computing needs, it may not be a fit for every business. Apps that rely on complex and memory intensive business algorithms, such as ML and AI applications, are better suited to using specialized servers to run those processes.

Similarly, certain businesses may enforce their own legal or tech constraints to run certain parts of their backend architecture within their own virtual private cloud (VPC). Such businesses are less likely to take a serverless approach.

The most compelling reason for using servers may come down to the need for predictable costs. As good as the pay-as-you-go model is, every single serverless architecture has a threshold of when it’s not cost effective. At that point, businesses may choose to go with a fleet of servers at a discounted rate from the cloud service providers in exchange for a prolonged period of commitment (usually 1 to 3 years).

The Bottom Line

Serverless provides a powerful alternative to the traditional servers for developing your next big idea. In fact, it’s got compelling advantages for cost and scalability. Regardless of your current tech stack, let us help you figure out how to build your next idea in the cloud! 

author avatar
Abhi
I'm Abhi and I help entrepreneurs and startups build apps and digital solutions. I like to talk about how startups can build simple, effective and scalable solutions without breaking their bank - something, we affectionately refer to as "Digital Common Sense". Follow me on LinkedIn.

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