One of the buzzwords that you are likely to hear these days is “Serverless Computing”. There is an entire community of evangelists out there predicting an apocalypse for server based applications. There are some valid points. Servers are complicated, servers are expensive, servers are unreliable. Perhaps the most compelling of them all : Servers are just not cool anymore. Or is that really true? Let’s find out what Serverless really means and if all the hype around it is worth paying attention to.
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 does not mean that you actually do away with the servers. Your code and resources still very much live and breathe on some servers around the world. The only difference is that you don’t configure or choose the kind of servers that you may need to power your business. Cloud service providers like AWS offer serverless computing to businesses in the hope that they can pass on the convenience of NOT managing servers for resources like databases or for hosting 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.
One of the attractive benefits of Serverless is its cheaper price point. Essentially, your costs become a function of usage of your app. Sometimes the cloud service providers offer free pricing tiers as well. This could very well mean close to zero cost while you develop your MVP. Using servers on the other hand creates some inherent expenses for your product that you can probably do well without.
Similarly, scalability is a great benefit of going Serverless. You don’t need to change a single 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 seems like a tedious task in contrast to the simplicity offered by Serverless.
Another awesome aspect of Serverless is that it is rather easier to debug issues and introduce new features. Since we are not deploying new code to servers, it is rather easy to isolate issues or work on features in isolated workspaces before testing your code. Not only this approach makes life easy for developers, this allows ample transparency to the QA team and business stakeholders to try and test the new releases with relative ease.
Now that we have gone over the benefits of Serverless Computing, there might still be some reasons why businesses use servers today. While Serverless seems like a great choice for MVPs and businesses with general computing needs, it may not be a great fit for every business. Apps that rely on complex and memory intensive business algorithms may be better suited to using specialized servers to run those processes. Similarly, certain businesses may have legal or tech constraints ro run certain parts of their backend architecture within the virtual private cloud (VPC) of their organization. Such businesses are less likely to use a Serverless approach as opposed to building on existing resources within the VPC in compliance with the organizational requirements. A compelling reason for using servers could also come down to the need for predictable costs. As good as the pay-as-you-go model seems to be, the costs do tend to add up as the usage of the app increases. To offset some of the costs, 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).
Serverless provides a powerful alternative to the traditional server based approach for developing your next big idea with some compelling advantages for cost and scalability. Irrespective of where you stand on the Servers vs Serverless debate, let Uplancer help you figure out how to build your next idea in the Cloud.