Serverless App Architecture: Pros and Cons

Today, serverless computing has already become all the hype. More and more companies are hopping on this trend. Netflix, BlackBoard, New York Times – just to name a few adopters of the serverless architecture. But wait. Why exactly is it so popular? And do modern businesses benefit from serverless applications? Let’s compare the pros and cons of a serverless app to find out the answers.

What exactly is a serverless app architecture?

“Serverless” doesn’t stand for “no servers.” That’s right. Serverless architecture doesn’t mean that servers are all gone for good. It actually means that a company doesn’t need its own hardware to host an application anymore. Instead, your company can use third-party services to link an application to the backend cloud storage – Backend as a Service (BaaS). Or, it can just run the code on a cloud computing platform – Function as a Service (FaaS). In both cases, your company gets help from a third party who takes care of the server infrastructure management. This allows your workers to focus more on product development.

Serverless application and the IT community 

The idea of a serverless application has been haunting the IT community for a long time. But it wasn’t until 2014 when the concept turned into a reality. Amazon launched its AWS Lambda, introducing the world’s first serverless FaaS. The event-driven platform allowed businesses to pay only for the application’s runtime and made the companies’ own servers unnecessary. Two years later, other big players entered the market – Google Cloud Functions and Microsoft Azure Functions.

Nowadays, an entire application can run on third-party services, and serverless computing has many different use cases. According to Statista, in 2016, the leading applications of serverless architecture included Web services, Data Processing, and the Internet of Things.

The advantages of serverless app architecture

  1. Reduced cost. Clearly, serverless app architecture is attractive because of its price. Simply put, you don’t have to pay for your own server infrastructure anymore. What you do is rent one which allows for saving money. Also, when outsourcing the server management, you don’t cover maintenance, installation, and other operational costs. Moreover, serverless app architecture is cost-effective. If you use a serverless cloud platform, your company doesn’t pay a fixed price. Instead, you pay for the service usage only, without taking the idle-time into account.
  2. Infinite scalability. A serverless application is no longer limited by your server’s capacity. In other words, it can scale dynamically to serve a different number of users. Now, your developers can save time and not scale the application manually. If lots of users start working with the app, the cloud vendor will manage the scaling automatically. This way, you don’t ever have to worry about the overload and the inconsistent traffic.
  3. Rapid updates and fast time to market delivery. Serverless app architecture means easy application deployment. It allows your development team to deliver the product to market faster. Also, the serverless architecture makes any updates to the app quicker and easier, which leads to high team agility and responsiveness.
  4. Better product quality. With third-party taking care of infrastructure management, your development team can focus on other tasks. Take the application logic, for instance.

Truth be told, serverless app architecture comes not just with positives. It has some drawbacks too. Let’s take a look at the main cons of serverless architecture.

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Cons of serverless architecture

  1. Lack of control. Using a third-party serverless solution always means giving up some part of control over your system. You don’t have direct access to the server infrastructure. In this case, your cloud vendor will be responsible for taking care of it. And a lot can go wrong if you choose an unreliable partner. For instance, system downtime, loss of functionality, or sudden changes in cost are the problems you may face. Moreover, security issues can and do happen. It’s always better to go with well-known serverless platforms and not to put your company at risk.
  2. Vendor lock-in. Unfortunately, it’s always hard to move a serverless app from one cloud service to another. To change a serverless vendor, you will have to rewrite some parts of the code. Too bad, in some cases, you may even need to change the design and the architecture of your app.
  3. Multi-tenancy problems. Since many cloud vendor’s customers usually use one infrastructure, multi-tenancy problems occur. For instance, an error in one software can cause failure in another serverless application. Or one customer’s high traffic app can slow down the performance of a different one.

Wrapping up

It’s no wonder that serverless computing has recently acquired so much attention. The fact is, serverless app architecture is highly beneficial. It helps modern businesses to save both time and money. Also, it reduces expenses on infrastructure management and makes the scalability a lot easier. It makes rapid application updates possible and shortens the time to market delivery. However, you have to keep in mind that serverless app architecture has some weaknesses too. You may accidentally choose the wrong third-party service for your app and suffer from many problems as a result. Also, moving between different services is always very painful. Also, you may face the multi-tenancy problems with a serverless app.

It’s up to you whether to go with a serverless app or not. But if you’re ready to try out the benefits of the new architecture approach, don’t forget to choose your partners wisely. Contact Skelia to get an expert consultation on the up-to-date, reliable serverless solutions.


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About Skelia

Skelia, a Nortal company, is an international leader in building cross-border IT and engineering organizations and affiliate companies in Eastern-Europe. For over a decade, we have provided staff augmentation services to a diverse range of clients—from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. We operate in Luxembourg, the UK, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Poland, and the US.