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The Great Serverless Shift: Decoding the Journey from Traditional to Serverless

serverless architecture

Amidst the conventional and obvious methods for creating and launching applications, an individual proposed the craziest idea of going serverless. The question that arises is whether this approach truly eliminates servers altogether. From my perspective, the answer is both YES and NO. On one hand, servers aren’t perpetually running in the cloud. However, on the other hand, the server briefly activates for mere milliseconds in order to execute the code.

Why serverless?

The paradigm of Serverless Architecture has emerged as the latest approach for developing and deploying applications. Over time, we have progressed from the utilization of bare-metal servers, VMs, and containers, to now embracing Serverless Architecture. With each passing day, there is a growing inclination towards automating mundane and iterative tasks, and constructing reusable services that can be seamlessly implemented. In keeping with this trajectory, Serverless Architecture follows a similar trajectory towards optimized efficiency and streamlined development.

The Serverless Architecture approach presents an optimal method for infrastructure management and utilization. Servers are activated exclusively as required, and costs are incurred only for their usage, thus significantly reducing effort and the need for infrastructure management. Moreover, employing Serverless Architecture facilitates swift and efficient app/service development, self-scalability, and easy maintenance. This, in turn, results in cost savings, lower memory consumption, and reduced electricity usage when compared to traditional server-based architecture.

But, things can turn the other way around if you don’t do it in the right way or if you don’t have the required skill!

It is going to be challenging.

What strategy does serverless architecture follow?

The Serverless Architecture strategy revolves around accomplishing three essential responsibilities necessary for deploying applications, regardless of the technology or language employed. Namely, accepting input/requests, enabling the environment for code execution, and responding accordingly. Historically, the setup of a server has been the default solution to fulfill these responsibilities. However, the Serverless Architecture approach offers an alternative that not only satisfies these requirements but also provides additional benefits as mentioned earlier. 

This approach is characterized by designing applications to execute small, self-contained functions in response to specific events. Nevertheless, when building independent code snippets in Serverless Architecture, there may be a risk of producing duplicate code, which could increase overhead.

To cope with this new approach, we must adapt our standard methods of development that we have adhered to for many years. This transition requires effort and time, particularly in the initial stages. Adopting Serverless Architecture demands disciplined development practices. Any attempts at taking shortcuts or neglecting necessary checks could result in undesirable outcomes, including the possibility of losses. 

In the event of any unforeseen circumstances arising within the system, one should anticipate the unexpected costs that may be incurred as a result.

Traditional Vs. Serverless

Although Serverless Architecture has many advantages, it cannot fully replace the more conventional architecture that relies on servers. The lack of state in Serverless Architecture is a drawback that makes it inappropriate in some scenarios. Moreover, we have become accustomed to developing applications in a conventional manner, so it is not feasible to abandon traditional server-based architecture is not possible right now. 
Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that preexisting applications will meet the requirements of Serverless Architecture, making the process of migrating them difficult. Instead, it is advisable to extract a small, independently functioning code snippet and incorporate it into Serverless Architecture.

Who, How, When & When should not?

It is best to use a serverless approach only if you possess the necessary expertise. During the switch to a serverless architecture, it’s important to set up a monitoring system so that you can decide when to stop these services in a smart way. Stop-loss measures must be put in place to make sure that important data and resources don’t go missing.

Serverless architecture is ideal for bursty applications that experience spikes during a specific event, as well as applications composed of small, independent, or asynchronous tasks. However, when considering serverless architecture for applications that rely heavily on third-party APIs or services, care should be taken because these calls may introduce latency issues. I the same way, applications that use callbacks or webhooks should stay away from serverless architecture, since a server’s life depends on a request and will not wait for a callback.

In addition, due to the cold-start issue that can increase latency time, applications that demand speedy responses should avoid serverless architecture. In summary, while serverless architecture has many advantages, it is crucial to assess the specific requirements of an application before deciding whether or not to use it.

What is the future?

There are some drawbacks to serverless architecture despite its many advantages. These include less overall control, challenges when debugging, cold starts, vendor lock-in, and security concerns.

Does it stop you from going serverless?

Despite these concerns, you should still give serious thought to going the serverless route. It is the priority of service providers to address these concerns and eliminate any hindrances that might propel users to look elsewhere for their needs. Furthermore, as serverless technology develops, it is expected that its use will grow in both popularity and demand. This scenario is helpful to both service providers and users alike, allowing providers to generate revenue while offering users with increased flexibility and usability.

The future of serverless architecture is indeed a bright one and is only going to increase as more businesses adopt serverless computing. As ground-breaking technologies emerge, their capabilities will expand, and their accessibility to programmers will grow manifold. 

In light of these developments, serverless architecture is poised to become a crucial part of modern software development processes.