Serverless architecture: how to prepare for change
Serverless architecture is an increasingly popular computing model that allows businesses to offload the management and maintenance of their servers and other critical infrastructure components. Serverless architectures, such as AWS Lambda, Azure Functions, and Google Cloud Functions, enable businesses to focus on quickly developing new applications or improving existing ones without worrying about the underlying server infrastructure. In this article, we will explore the key features of this architectural style.
Serverless architecture is an emerging trend in cloud computing that offers several benefits over traditional server-based systems. Serverless systems are composed of functions that are triggered by events, rather than constantly running. This makes them more scalable and efficient, as servers can be turned off when they are not needed. Serverless architectures also tend to be more cost-effective, as users only pay for the time their functions are running.
Although serverless landscapes boast many benefits, there are some potential drawbacks to consider before making the switch. This article is a great complement to the last one on microservices architecture.
Serverless Architecture Paradigm
A serverless architecture is an application that runs on dynamic infrastructure, which means it can scale up or down quickly to accommodate changes in demand. Serverless architectures are powered by code that runs ins in third-party servers, known as Functions as a Service (FaaS). AWS Lambda is the best-known vendor of FaaS, but other vendors like Google, Azure, and IBM have strong solutions as well.
With serverless computing, the need for long-term server management and infrastructure setup costs are eliminated and companies can focus their resources on development rather than having to pay overhead fees for physical hardware or cloud-based virtual machines. This type of computing gets its name from the fact that businesses or individuals who use this system do not have to procure, rent, or establish virtual machines (bare metal) for their backend code. (To be frank, we think the term “Serverless” is rather deceiving).
The primary benefit of Serverless Architecture is cost savings. With the pay-as-you-go model, the companies pay whenever the process executes and the code is running, rather than pre-provisioned virtual machines.
Not to mention, a quality Serverless also reduces the time wasted on configurations and maintenance tasks. This shift allows your software developers more opportunities to build innovative services. Plus, they gain the ability to monitor production code with little effort. Now your operations staff can focus less on bridging the gap between operations and development (a goal of DevOps practices) and invest that extra time into making deployments easier than ever before.
Graphically, we can summarize everything as follows;
On one hand, there would be no Infra maintenance required and all efforts can go into logic development. This sounds like an ideal situation, however, you want to consider some key points before making any rash decisions:
- Hidden Costs: One possible downside of Serverless applications is that they rely heavily on API calls, which can become costly. Another potential issue is increased network usage from sending data back and forth, which can also get expensive.
- Maintenance: A FaaS-architecture (Microservices) can be beneficial, but it also means that each piece of software must communicate with the others. This often leads to increased maintenance costs.
- Dependency: A serverless architecture could be more cost-efficient, but it is limited to working with only one cloud provider (Moving data within different clouds can be costly). Depending on the situation, this might be a big risk from an operational standpoint.
- Testing & Debugging: We all know the fairy tale; Testing/Pre-productive environments are a copy of Productive environments. Well, turns out that this would mean that for testing purposes, all the FaaS architecture should be perfectly cloned across all testing environments, which is rarely the case for making proper QA/UATs.
Finding the best route
But how can you decide if serverless and microservices architectures are a good fit for your organization? There are several key factors you must think about before making any fundamental architectural decisions;
- Quality Assurance: If you want your code to perform well, it is necessary to assess the quality of the code. If the performance in VMs isn’t good, FaaS will be extremely slowed down.
- Application Use Case: Before you move an application or infrastructure over to a serverless platform, be sure to perform a use case analysis. This will help you understand which resources are critical and need to be pre-provisioned.
- Project Service Use: It is important to estimate the number of times an API will be called per request, as well as the cost for each of them. Without this information, expenses related to upkeep can quickly spiral out of control.
- Networking: If most of your application’s spending is on networking and data transfer, serverless will not save you any money.
- Compare different serverless providers: Always compare the price to quality relation of any FaaS provider, just as you would with anything else.
At BIT Technologies we believe that transitioning to a serverless architecture can save you both time and money. As with any big decision, it’s crucial to look at the potential benefits and drawbacks before making a change. This specifically goes for cost analysis and operational efficiency.
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