Ever heard of serverless architecture or computing? When thinking of IT infrastructure, the words server, compute, storage, and network instantly pop in every mind. So, having the words “serverless” and “architecture” put together may sound very unusual, potentially misleading, or technically incorrect. In this article, we will go beyond the simple explanation of the serverless architecture concept and compare it with other infrastructure options.
Serverless Architecture Exists in the Context of Software Development
Usually, companies that create software need to invest money and time building the servers to host their development environments. Continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) best practices recommend having four different environments to build software solutions: development, test, user acceptance testing (UAT), and production.
Traditionally, software companies have had the choice between on-premises and cloud infrastructures. In both cases, the costs to deploy and maintain the necessary environments can grow very quickly.
This is where the serverless architecture concept comes to help.
What Is Serverless Architecture?
The serverless architecture model allows you to execute services without having to set up and manage the underlying infrastructure yourself. These services can be code functions or databases. The term “serverless” comes from the fact that there is a layer of abstraction between the server and the end user.
In a serverless architecture, a service provider is responsible for hosting and managing all the infrastructure. The model basically requires:
- A web server (from where end-users can access the services)
- Functions (blocks of codes that can be run)
- Authentication and authorization (to secure the access)
- Databases (for management and storing data)
Now, let’s compare the architecture with other infrastructure options.
Serverless Architecture vs. Traditional Infrastructure
Setting up and managing a traditional infrastructure requires skilled staff. For instance, here is a list of tasks related to deploying and maintaining your own infrastructure:
- Build a data center or a server room with proper cooling and power redundancy
- Purchase network switches, routers and firewalls
- Proceed with network cabling and equipment configuration
- Identify and purchase servers and storage for the company needs
- Select and purchase virtualization software and licenses
- Select and buy operating systems and licenses
- Set up servers, storage and virtualization if necessary
- Provision virtual machines and containers
- Set up backups and DR equipment
- Monitor the infrastructure
- Apply patches and updates
- Replace legacy systems
- Set up integrations
- And more!
You get the picture. With a traditional, on-premises infrastructure, it can take months before you get your first server ready.
Depending on the case, having to take care of your infrastructure can be a good option. You definitely have complete control over every aspect of your servers. But it also means spending a lot of time implementing, troubleshooting, and performing several tasks, just to keep your servers running.
In contrast, going serverless totally frees you from this load. You never have to interact with your hardware directly, which means a lot less work on your side. You get to lower your capital and operational expenses too. Of course, you may lose the ability to customize. But, most companies are willing to make that trade-off due to the overall benefits of going serverless.
Comparing Serverless Architecture & Cloud
Cloud-based infrastructure, also known as “Infrastructure as a Service” (IaaS) goes hand in hand with virtualization. Opting for IaaS gives you access to servers through a web browser or a client application. The providers pre-install and pre-configure everything in their data center, so you won’t have to bother with hardware and virtualization matters. You only need to hit a button to start a new computer, delivered as a virtual machine.
You can modify the virtual machine and interact with it as you want. Everything being software-defined, you can set up and configure virtual networks and storage. You get exactly the same features as for a traditional infrastructure, but with less effort.
The issue is, in the cloud model, you still get to deal with servers even if they are delivered as virtual machines. You need to configure the operating system within the servers, install applications, configure them for your development projects, etc. Moreover, you still need to estimate server capacity for peak usage and set the resources accordingly. Even by setting auto-scaling, when it is available, your resources are still scaled up or down within a server or server farm.
Enhancing the cloud model, a serverless architecture provides computing that is totally abstracted from the underlying infrastructure. No server, be it a virtual machine, is necessary. Developers directly get to run and pay for blocks of code and databases instead.
Comparing Serverless Architecture & Containers
Containers are lightweight, portable sets of libraries, system settings, and other elements that an application needs to run. They are independent from the operating system and the server, be it physical or virtual. They offer the ability to use microservices.
Containers can easily be moved around and deployed anywhere. This makes them very easy to work with, and ideal for testing and deploying applications. When it comes to scalability, containers require setup and configuration, and part of this process includes capping the number of deployable instances.
The serverless architecture model requires no setup and management efforts. It allows providers to charge for used services only, not for the server resources that power them. Scaling up is not limited, ensuring your applications will always deliver the best level of service. Consequently, going serverless considerably slashes the overall cost of running software development environments.
Wrapping Up with the Benefits of Serverless Architecture
Are your DevOps teams struggling to control costs, deliver products quickly, and maintain an aging physical infrastructure? As long as you do not need granular customization that can only be done on back-end servers, the serverless architecture model is your best option. You get access to tiny, “nanoservices” that are even more flexible than container microservices. Here we sum up the benefits of serverless architecture:
It Will Lower Your Costs
There is no need to purchase hardware servers or entire virtual machines. You no longer have to hire highly skilled systems administrators. You pay for blocks of code (functions) and databases you run, not the back-end server resources. This results in lower CapEx and OpEx.
It Offers Better Scalability
Serverless computing is designed to automatically scale and provision new computing resources on demand. It does not require your intervention or configuration.
It Shortens Your Deployment Times
To start using functions and databases, all you need to do is sign up with the provider. Your environments become available within milliseconds – resulting in extremely fast deployment times.
It Decreases Latency
Providers that offer serverless computing use powerful, low-latency internet connectivity. This ensures high responsiveness for your environments.
Are you a cloud service provider looking to offer serverless computing? We can help! Contact us now to start the discussion.