One of the trademark characteristics of the ongoing digital revolution is the ever-accelerating innovation that constantly reshapes the software development landscape, changing the way we build, deliver, and maintain digital products and services. One of the latest trends to gain broad acceptance is “serverless architecture,” an approach to software design and development that allows engineers to build and run services without having to manage the underlying infrastructure. There are many benefits associated with serverless architecture and only a few drawbacks, which is why it has become so popular of late. In this article we will explain what serverless architecture is, then explore the pros and cons of using it, so you can better decide whether it might be right for your organization.
Defining Serverless Architecture
The first thing to understand about serverless architecture is that it is not truly serverless. Rather, it is a software development method that aims to free developers from the hassle associated with managing the server software and hardware that are required on the back end. Instead, a third-party vendor is engaged to take on the responsibility of managing the underlying infrastructure. That means developers can focus on writing and deploying code, while a cloud provider such as AWS Lambda provisions the servers needed to run their applications, databases, and storage systems. These providers charge their clients on a pay-per-usage model, which can be exceptionally cost-effective for their client.
The two most popular serverless architecture models are FaaS and BaaS.
What is FaaS?
The most common form of serverless architecture is called FaaS, or Function-as-a-Service. FaaS is an event-driven execution model that runs small pieces of code. In this model, software applications are composed of discrete functions that can be invoked independently. Each of these functions is hosted by the FaaS provider, and can be scaled automatically as function call frequency increases or decreases. The FaaS architecture allows developers to create self-contained, purposeful functions that respond to specific events, such as an HTTP request, and the provider charges a fee each time the function is triggered. This allows for dynamic scaling, increased observability, and cost-effective processing.
What is BaaS?
Another popular serverless architecture model is BaaS: Backend-as-a-Service. The BaaS model allows developers to focus on frontend application development while the service provider handles backend development tasks such as hosting, cloud storage, and database management. As with FaaS, BaaS serverless architecture relieves developers of the need to write code for server-related tasks and functionalities. They can also leverage the BaaS providers’ APIs and Software Development Kits to enhance and shorten the software development process.
Why Serverless Architecture?
In any business, success depends on the efficient management of money and time, so let’s look at how serverless architecture can increase profitability by reducing costs and speeding time-to-market. When an organization runs its applications on its own servers, developers face multiple challenges such as server allocation, capacity provisioning, infrastructure support planning, scalability, and server hardening. These tasks can prevent developers from focusing on their primary responsibility, which is building the core product. Serverless architecture takes the load off your developers, so they no longer have to be concerned about managing and operating physical or virtual servers. Major components of infrastructure management, such as network configuration, provisioning, and security, are handled by vendors. This allows developers to concentrate their efforts on doing what they do best: writing code.
As discussed, the primary benefit of serverless architecture is that it gives engineers more time to focus on product development. But there are other benefits as well:
With serverless architecture, the expense of internal architecture management is minimized. With no servers to manage, overhead is reduced and financial resources can be allocated to more critical needs. At the same time, FaaS pay-per-usage billing optimizes financial outlay, since the company only has to pay for the execution of the code that is triggered.
Because the application is divided into individual components, observability and transparency are improved. This in turn facilitates testing, trouble-shooting, and bug-fixing.
Thanks to the division of the application into independent functions, a failure in one component does not necessarily affect the others, which makes the application as a whole more robust and reliable.
Serverless architecture doesn’t just allow for faster software development by increasing productivity; it also enables speedier application deployment and greater release flexibility. With command-line infrastructure, code can be deployed in minutes.
Your application’s success is often proportional to the caliber of its user experience. Adapting to serverless architecture can free your engineers from the high maintenance of back-end work, allowing them to focus their efforts on improving the user experience and creating a user interface that exceeds expectations.
Though the advantages of serverless architecture outweigh the disadvantages for most organizations, there are some cons that can make serverless architecture the wrong choice in certain scenarios. Here are a handful of reasons to think twice before switching to serverless architecture:
One downside of serverless architecture is that your application is now reliant on a third-party provider. While the major serverless architecture providers like Twilio and Microsoft are dependable, it’s important to choose your provider with care.
Certain software applications and users require the very highest levels of security, which means outsourcing the maintenance of critical infrastructure may not be ideal.
Performance & Latency
Depending on the requirements of your application, some types of serverless architecture can impose unwanted constraints on performance, or increase latency. Cold starts can also be an issue that negatively impact performance.
Though building a software product based on serverless architecture can yield real benefits, pre-existing products that were not created with serverless architecture in mind can be difficult to migrate to a serverless architecture model.
While using serverless architecture is not the best approach for every software application, it does provide a multitude of benefits that in many cases can save time, effort, and money. By offloading the responsibility for infrastructure management to third-party cloud providers, serverless architecture decreases the burden on software developers, allowing them to concentrate their energies on making better products.
If you’re wondering whether serverless architecture is right for your organization, Tringapps can help. Our experts have years of experience with every software development methodology, including the FaaS approach that often works best with serverless architecture. We will guide you through every step of the process, from evaluating your company’s needs to choosing the right cloud service provider. But that’s not all – we can also work with you to design and develop your software product, then bring it to market and continue to maintain it for years to come. We have partnered with companies around the globe to give them a competitive edge, enabling their success with our own behind-the-scenes expertise. We can do the same for you! To learn more, contact Tringapps today.