What is Serverless? Pros & Cons

The term serverless is heard frequently, but what does it really mean to build an application with serverless? No servers? Not really. We break down the concept and list some of the pros and cons.

Serverless means that companies can administer their applications and services without caring about the underlying servers. How much computing power, memory and virtual hard drives your application needs is not something you need to worry about, but the cloud provider is responsible for handling all this. You only pay for how much power your application uses.

The popularity of developing applications with the help of serverless computing has exploded in recent years and each supplier provides their own solutions, all of which are structured in much the same way. The AWS variant is called Lamda while Google and Microsoft call it features.

What are some benefits of serverless?

LOWER COSTS: With serverless you only pay for what you use. You avoid the risk of paying for servers that are not used.

INCREASED SCALABILITY: With serverless you do not have to think about what traffic volumes your application will have. No matter what traffic (with some reservation for extreme cases) and no matter where a user is, your application will work.

LESS CONCERN: You no longer have to worry about your operating system being updated with the latest patch or bug fix. With serverless, your cloud provider handles security.

FOCUS ON USER EXPERIENCE: By spending less time administering servers, you can spend more time developing the design and function of your application.

What are some disadvantages of serverless?

NOT GOOD FOR BIGGER TASKS: If you have features that need to be run for a long time and often, costs can often be greater than managing your own servers.

COLD STARTS: Each function must be “started up” the first time it is used, which can cause delays. Cloud providers have several solutions to remedy this problem (eg pre-warm starts) and by writing exact smaller functions a lot of time can be saved.

DEPENDENT ON SUPPLIER: With serverless, control is lost over the type of hardware, operating system, etc. used and you also build your application to work for a specific cloud provider. For example, switching from AWS to Google Cloud is often an expensive affair.

What should you pick? The answer may not be unexpected – it depends. How is your application structured today? Do containers run? Requirements for UI? Do you use the cloud? Who develops the application? What is the company’s strategy?

One thing that is certain, however, is that we have only seen the beginning of how much serverless can facilitate and improve and it will be exciting to follow AWS, Azure and Google’s offers in the future. Do you have questions and want guidance? Don’t hesitate to contact us.

Subscribe to our newsletter