There’s still quite a bit of buildup surrounding the rise of serverless architecture. But as third-party vendors are better able to provide serverless solutions, the hype has given way to widespread affirmation of the benefits offered by the architecture.
“Serverless” is essentially a buzzword that refers to breaking server-side applications into functions that each accomplish a specific task. Servers are still involved, though they’re now owned and maintained by third-party organizations. Those components can then be monitored and operated at any scale, with each function running in a parallel “container.” This also means outsourcing various functions to third parties.
Enterprise companies are going serverless for the same reason companies have always adopted new technologies: an efficiency boost. Instead of relying on a team of specialized employees to maintain your company’s IT infrastructure, you can entrust server management — including failover systems, fault tolerance, OS updates, and auto-scaling — to your serverless provider.
The main cost associated with a serverless switch comes in the form of trust. Enterprise-level companies that rely heavily on the ability to quickly deploy services must clear the psychological hurdle that accompanies handing a critical piece of IT infrastructure to a third party. Providers likewise bear the burden of proving they deserve that trust.
Keeping the Faith
Reliability and security are a priority for any applications provider, and they become even more important at scale. With serverless architecture, each piece should work on its own and play nicely with other APIs and services.
Serverless architectures should be fully managed services that handle high availability, fault tolerance, server orchestration, and other issues you might encounter. All of this infrastructure helps ensure your app is reliable. Therefore, vendors must provide a service-level agreement that matches your business requirements.
Serverless APIs and services should be secure internally and in their communication with other APIs. It’s vital to pick the correct services and APIs, but you also need to look at how your data will flow. Based on that flow, you can identify spots where solid encryption is essential.
Security is always paramount, but it can be a challenge for serverless operations to ensure perfect security 100 percent of the time — in-house teams are in the same boat. Even if a serverless solution is completely secure, there are external factors that can cause security breaches.
For example, a large-scale cyberattack might take down the infrastructure behind a serverless operation, disrupting service to your business. While the downside is essentially the same, the clear benefit is that you can rely on your service provider to handle the breach rather than tackle it yourself.
The Bottom Line
The days of on-premise servers seem to be coming to an end. Teams that want to move quickly, ensure scalability, and be on the cutting edge of technology trends are increasingly going serverless. Here are three ways a serverless switch can help your organization:
1. Put your infrastructure in the hands of experts. Over the past decade or so, the benefits of a serverless model have led to the explosion of the software as a service industry. Serverless has similarly sparked the rise of platform as a service and infrastructure as a service companies.
We’re talking about the same cost-effective, subscription-based service model here, only now it’s function as a service. Companies that offer FaaS focus on a small piece of your tech stack, and their expertise means they can handle it better than an in-house team.
2. Liberate your developers. Serverless architecture liberates your developers to write code instead of spending time configuring, deploying, and maintaining servers. That means more features for your end users and more reliable infrastructure for your app.
Offering 100 percent reliability is difficult, but it’s even more of a challenge with an in-house solution. An absurd number of factors can affect your infrastructure once your app is deployed in the wild: different networks — including low-powered and ever-switching cell towers — security implications, a breadth of operating systems and devices, and a global user base all come into play. Serverless operations account for these challenges, as well as issues that haven’t yet emerged, meaning you’ll always be ahead of the curve.
Your developers shouldn’t waste their time trying to reinvent the wheel or troubleshooting on the back end when they can focus on what matters: building and deploying an app that customers love.
3. Avoid being locked into a monolithic provider. With microservices, you have a wide selection of independently deployable functions for your business, and your developers can write different parts of the software in different programming languages. Serverless APIs today are built to interact well with other APIs, meaning you have a flexible and evolving product without the need to maintain your own servers.
Making the decision to hand over your IT infrastructure to a third-party service provider can be difficult. But there are numerous reasons companies — even enterprise-level businesses and those building full-fledged apps — are switching to serverless. The boost in efficiency, scalability, and reliability that a serverless solution can provide has evolved from theory to reality. The right provider can make that initial leap of faith seem like the best IT move you’ve ever made.
Hi Wendy- Great post! I’m a big believer of this approach, and hacked on a couple of projects with the Serverless framework. I felt like there is a lack of comprehensive and detailed resources on the complete serverless stack like the one you covered here.
I decided (along with a friend) to put together a really comprehensive 60 chapter tutorial on how to build a serverless CRUD app using the Serverless Framework on AWS in ES6. It’s called Serverless Stack – http://serverless-stack.com. It’s a completely free resource for the community. I’m hoping you could take a look at it, give us some feedback, and possibly use your help spreading the word for it.