Serverless Architecture: What It Is & How It Works

This increases your surface area for malicious intent and ups the likelihood of a successful attack. Embracing a Serverless approach opens you up to a large number of security questions. Here’s just a very brief smattering of things to consider—be sure to explore what else could impact you. So, dear reader, I hope you enjoyed your time in the land of rainbows, unicorns, and all things shiny and nice, because we’re about to get slapped around the face by the wet fish of reality.

Let’s look specifically at the benefits and limitations of serverless architecture. Applications and software that run in the serverless environment are by default locked to a specific cloud vendor. By now, it should be clear that serverless architecture leads to optimal resource consumption.


Then, we also face challenges with the traditional tools of debugging, monitoring, and managing applications. But, on the positive side, we are able to rely on the native capabilities of the FaaS service provider to create and manage the function instances only as needed. Once deployed, serverless apps respond to demand and automatically scale up and down as needed. Serverless offerings from public cloud providers are usually metered on-demand through an event-driven execution model. As a result, when a serverless function is sitting idle, it doesn’t cost anything.

serverless application architecture

These types of scenarios are playing out all over the world in response to the pandemic. Another example is the adoption of customer-facing applications like those of retailers and restaurants. By using such an agile architecture, you can be very flexible in your releases. Get more value from your data with hundreds of quickstarts that integrate with just about anything. Oracle Cloud offers a serverless version of its Oracle Autonomous Database, which is the Autonomous Transaction Processing service. Nutanix offers a solution named Era which turns an existing RDBMS such as Oracle, MariaDB, PostgreSQL or Microsoft SQL Server into a serverless service. Google Cloud Platform created a second serverless offering, Google Cloud Functions in 2016.

Popular Serverless Platforms

I’m glad to say that has now been fixed, but it’s still something that’s worth checking if you use a less mature platform. These problems are not unique to Serverless systems—they exist in many other service offerings that use multitenancy. AWS Lambda is now mature enough that we don’t expect to see these kind of problems with it, but you should be on the lookout for such issues with any service that is less mature, whether it’s from AWS or other vendors.

Some organizations choose to operate their own FaaS environments using open source serverless platforms, including Red Hat® OpenShift® Serverless, which is built on the Knative project for Kubernetes. Serverless is a new cloud-native model with significant efficiency and productivity gains, but it requires planning. Get the cloud-native strategy guide for architects and IT leaders, including insights to prepare for a serverless approach.

The Future of Serverless

This execution process is abstracted away from the view of developers, who focus on writing and deploying the application code. Both serverless and container architectures allow developers to deploy application code by abstracting away the host environment, but there are key differences between them. For example, developers who are using container architecture have to update and maintain each container they deploy, as well as its system settings and dependencies. In contrast, server maintenance in serverless architectures is handled entirely by the cloud provider.

  • Once you’ve built your serverless application, you’ll need to monitor its health and performance.
  • That means if someone, somewhere, in your organization performs a new type of load test and starts trying to execute one thousand concurrent Lambda functions, you’ll accidentally DoS your production applications.
  • These activities may not come naturally to many developers and technical leads, so education and close collaboration with operations folk is of utmost importance.

Container platforms have traditionally still needed you to manage the size and shape of your clusters. Generally with a PaaS you still need to think about how to scale—for example, with Heroku, how many Dynos do you want to run? Even if you set up your PaaS application to auto-scale you won’t be doing this to the level of individual requests , so a FaaS application is much more efficient when it comes to costs. Most providers also allow functions to be triggered as a response to inbound HTTP requests; in AWS one typically enables this by way of using an API gateway.

Why Serverless Architecture?

I’m sure other vendors also have some pretty ugly skeletons barely in their closets. Each Serverless vendor that you use increases the number of different security implementations embraced by your ecosystem.

What is serverless and what are its advantages?

Serverless computing allows developers to build apps without the headache of managing infrastructure. More specially, it enables them to write in serverless code without having to: Provision a server. Ensure its functionality. Create test environments on a server.

This doesn’t work for all contexts, but it can be a surprisingly effective tool for many teams. Certain drawbacks to Serverless FaaS right now come down to the way platforms are implemented.

What are the pros and cons of serverless computing?

Serverless architecture is ideal for asynchronous, stateless apps that can be started instantaneously. Likewise, serverless is a good fit for use cases that see infrequent, unpredictable surges in demand. With PaaS, your application is deployed as a single unit and is developed in the traditional way using some kind of web framework like ASP.NET, Flask, Ruby on Rails, Java Servlets, etc. You can decide to run multiple instances of your application to handle additional load. I talked earlier about “Serverful” FaaS platform—being able to use FaaS-style architecture for some of our projects, but submitting to compliance, legal, etc. reasons to run our applications on premise.

  • If using a BaaS database directly from your mobile platforms you are losing the protective barrier a server-side application provides in a traditional application.
  • Some mobile application teams have found it makes sense to have the client communicate directly with a server-side database.
  • The evolution of a standard API interface based on REST has enabled complex business logic to be encapsulated within globally available services that are callable by any application with the appropriate security credentials.
  • Although it’s possible to mix and match elements from different vendors, services from a single provider are designed to integrate most seamlessly.
  • It may make more sense to migrate small pieces of the application into serverless functions over time.

More importantly, since consumer of a serverless platform does not have to worry about the infrastructure, it can result into much lower cost of operations for the consumer. There are quite a few cloud-services vendors available today that boast of a very mature catalog of serverless services. Since we can define serverless in quite a flexible way, the services provided by these vendors are also very distinct. The concepts of serverless architecture and FaaS have grown hand-in-hand with the popularity of containers and on-demand cloud offerings.

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