Serverless Cloud products are trending a lot right now. You have serverless computing, serverless storage, serverless databases, serverless messaging, and so much more. What’s this hype all about?
What is a Server?
A server is a computer that is designed to run 24/7 and to provide services to other people on the network. If you’ve been using the internet in any way, you’ve interacted with thousands of servers. Web servers load web pages, file servers store your files, mail servers for communication, and game servers for entertainment. Servers are designed to be fast, have a lot of memory, and a very speedy internet connection. They are usually housed in massive data centers.
The problem with servers is that they are not flexible. Hosting your website on your server is great, but if you only have a handful of visitors each day, the server side will be idle most of the time. This is called Over-Provisioning. You’re paying for a server that has a certain capacity, but you are not using it. So most of it goes to waste. The opposite of this is Under-Provisioning.
With so many visitors at once, your server gets overwhelmed. The server will run out of capacity and then crash. Predicting how many resources you will need to run an online service is almost impossible. Your service could turn into an overnight success, or it might grow slowly for many, many years. If you under anticipate the traffic, your service will be slow and it will go down. Overestimate, and the server costs will burn a hole in your pocket.
Apart from scaling, servers require a lot of maintenance. You have to update the software, replace failed hardware, and make sure that the server has a reliable internet connection. All of this means you will focus less on developing your website or service, and worry more about your hosting.
Cloud providers introduced serverless products to solve these issues. They allow you to run an online service without worrying about servers or underlying infrastructure. This helps you to focus entirely on your application.
Want to create a file-sharing service? Use a serverless storage product, and you can store millions of files without having to worry if you have enough hard drives to store them.
Want to keep track of your sales? Use a serverless database, and you will be able to store, create, and fetch millions of records every second.
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There are three main benefits of Serverless Architecture:
- You only pay for what you use
Serverless products charge you only for your actual usage. For instance, it charges per gigabyte of stored data, or 100 milliseconds when your code is running. That is advantageous when you don’t use the same amount of resources all the time. This is quite common. Websites see ups and downs in traffic usually. A business website might see a lot of traffic during business hours, but almost no traffic at night. While using regular servers, you would have a fixed cost throughout the day, regardless of whether you have a lot of traffic or not.
- You can easily scale up and down
Serverless products are built in such a way that they can cope with huge demands. Hosting a small website with just a few visitors is fine. And if your website suddenly starts to get thousands of visitors, that’s fine too. Behind the scenes, the provider will allocate more servers to your website, and as traffic goes down, the number of servers will go down as well. Hosting your servers makes this task much more complicated, challenging, and time-consuming. So, by going serverless, you never have too little or too much capacity. It’s always just right.
- You don’t have to manage the servers
You don’t have to buy any equipment, don’t have to worry about the latest security patches, no hassle when your hard drives die, and most importantly, you do not have any growing pains when your website or service sees a spike in traffic. You also don’t have to worry about upgrading and replacing your equipment at the end of its lifespan, which, for servers, is every 3 to 5 years. How relaxing!
In addition to web applications, serverless architecture can be used to develop mobile applications.
Serverless might be the right answer for you but you should also be aware of its limitations. Let’s discuss some of them so that it helps you make the right choice.
- Tricky Pay Structure
Since serverless products scale so easily, and they only charge you for what you use, it might be tricky to estimate how much you will have to pay. Every product has a certain amount of features that are priced differently as you use them. Renting or buying traditional servers is more predictable than serverless in this case. For a given price point, you can get a certain amount of server capacity, no more or no less. But with serverless architecture, you can be charged with unpredictable, massive bills as well.
- Limited Compatibility
Each Cloud provider has a specific set of serverless products, and it’s difficult to find products from different providers being compatible with each other. It means you can also be locked by the Cloud provider. You may become dependent on them, and switching to another provider might become an expensive and huge effort. Serverless databases are a great example. All Cloud providers have it, but all of them support different features. When you depend on such a feature, it might be impossible to move to a competitor without having the whole architecture changed for your site or service. Serverless products are the best way for Cloud providers to tie you to their platforms, making you dependent on their products. However, some tools and techniques exist to overcome this challenge and build Cloud applications.
- Serverless isn’t a “One Stop Shop” Solution
Serverless isn’t a solution for just about anything. To give a few examples, serverless databases often put limits on how you can query your data. Serverless computer products limit how long your code can run to just a few minutes or so. At times, serverless products are slower because they are dynamically changing the capacity allocated to your website. With that being said, new products are frequently announced and existing ones are getting better.
Hosting a website or a service, on your server or making it serverless is a job that requires responsibility. Hosting sensitive data of your users and managing the infrastructure on a day-to-day basis should be carried out precisely and safely. Although you might have an idea on how to host your service, a detailed discussion with a professional with more than a decade of experience will only do you good. Feel free to connect with us to immaculately strategize your website hosting. We’re here to lend a hand to you with our expertise.