Content, IT management, Networking

The Pros and Cons of Serverless Computing

Author: Kevin Rubin, president and CIO, Stratosphere Networks
Author: Kevin Rubin, president and CIO, Stratosphere Networks

With the future still uncertain because of the pandemic, many businesses are looking for ways to contain costs. If your organization still relies on on-site servers, going serverless is one potential way to spend less on IT. Even before the current economic downturn caused by the pandemic, serverless computing – which involves cloud providers taking on responsibility for infrastructure – had already become popular: It was the top-growing extended cloud service year-over-year for the second consecutive year in 2019, according to the RightScale 2019 State of the Cloud Report from Flexera.

However, like any IT solution, serverless computing has its advantages and drawbacks, and whether or not it’s the right choice for your organization depends on your specific situation. Here’s an overview of what you should know about this type of cloud service and some notable pros and cons of serverless computing.

How Serverless Computing Works

Essentially, serverless computing allows your organization to build or run applications without having to worry about managing infrastructure, according to “The CIO’s Guide to Serverless Computing” from Gartner. The term “serverless” is somewhat misleading since there are still servers involved in the process. Your company just doesn’t have to handle anything related to hardware: A cloud provider takes care of everything related to setting up, managing and maintaining the necessary infrastructure. Serverless architecture is often used as a synonym for Function as a Service (FaaS) offerings, according to the InfoWorld article “What is serverless? Serverless computing explained.”

Typically, a FaaS provider will only charge you for the actual compute time needed to execute your code, rather than asking you to pay a monthly fee.

Why Businesses Go Serverless

Serverless computing has numerous potential advantages for your business. Here are just a few notable pros of this type of cloud solution, according to Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and IBM Cloud.

  • Potential cost savings stemming from only paying for what you use, plus the lack of infrastructure-related expenses (e.g., maintenance)
  • Greater scalability compared to on-site servers, with the ability to quickly accommodate evolving demands
  • For developers, the ability to just concentrate on code and not worry about infrastructure

Potential Drawbacks of Serverless Computing

While switching to serverless can benefit your organization in various ways, it also has some possible drawbacks that you should carefully consider before implementing this type of solution. These are some problems you can run into while leveraging serverless architecture, according to IBM, the Network World article “Serverless explainer: The next generation of cloud infrastructure,” and the TechRepublic article “Top 5 things to know about serverless computing.”

  • Possible performance issues, since the code “spins down” when you don’t need it
  • The delays created by cold starts can be a significant problem if you’re trying to run low-latency apps
  • Increased difficulty in the areas of debugging and monitoring
  • Possible vendor lock-in and issues migrating apps created in a particular FaaS offering to other platforms

If you’d like to learn more about on-site servers versus serverless architecture, don’t hesitate to contact our team of trusted technology advisors.

Author Kevin Rubin is president and CIO at Stratosphere Networks. Read more from Stratosphere Networks here.