Serverless vs. Microservices Architecture: What Does The Future of Business Computing Look

08 Sep 2020

Overview

Serverless computing, which is commonly referred to as just Serverless, is a promising cloud-based technology model that has emerged on the app development and software architecture horizon in recent years. Trying to avail themselves of the huge serverless frameworks potential, many big-time market players have been quick to jump on the cloud services bandwagon. Such software giants like Google, Microsoft, IBM and Amazon already offer the customers to migrate all the local business operational efficiencies to be hosted on their flagship serverless platforms like AWS Lambda and Azure Functions.   

Simply put, serverless architecture is an event- and request-driven tech solution allowing application developers to create actionable working environments in the cloud that have all the necessary computational resources needed for a smooth coding flow. This framework comes in handy especially when time is an issue and the tasks assigned are quite resource-intensive.

Moreover, while opting for serverless services to streamline your application development processes, you can drastically improve your other business optimization initiatives along the way – like DevOps and Agile practices.

Traditional vs Serverless Architecture

Serverless and microservices model: What’s the difference

On the one hand, these two architectures possess similar functional properties – that is, they can minimize operational costs as well as the application deployment cycle, handle ever-altering development requirements, and optimize everyday time- and resource-sensitive tasks. On the other, there are some striking differences between microservices and serverless models you should definitely get to know.

  • Microservices. This tech-enabled solution is a smaller type of SOA (service-oriented architecture) that provides programmers with full access to relevant libraries hosted on cloud servers and lets them deploy various functional modules along with multiple protocols and API, such as JSON, RESTful, AMQP, SOAP and more.

As a rule, the microservice architecture enables data containerization through software executable packages like Docker, with all the necessary data getting unpacked on demand as developers access a given API. Numerous microservices patterns ensure the continuous deployment of applications via operations run on the cloud platform.

Also, you should remember that utilizing microservice architecture may turn out to be quite pricey for business owners, since even sitting idle microservices are, in fact, active – therefore, you’ll have to pay for host servers capacities on a daily/monthly basis.

  • Serverless. The serverless architecture is way more promising for application developers as it provides the execution of cloud-based working environments on demand. It means that serverless functions are triggered only when a certain event is getting set. This done, the functions execute a sequence of operations depending on the commands that users have input. Then the serverless platform applies a set of preconditioned algorithms and rules to process computations and come up with actionable results.


After all the operations are through, the environment you’ve been working in folds up at once until the next task is requested, which apparently gives us the right to call the serverless architecture a real on-demand app development environment.

All in all, the microservices are way better to be employed for such use cases as eCommerce websites, where the containerization of various large-scale data sets is a priority. Serverless showcases its great potential when it comes to optimizing development costs and time.

Also, it is more preferable to opt for serverless architecture if your business flow is event-based and you don’t need to run your operational tasks all the time. This holds true especially for IoT-fueled applications where time-critical alarms and notifications usually take place. To get a clearer picture, let’s have a closer look at some serverless beneficial features and characteristics.

How Serverless works

Serverless as a development model driven by preconfigured events, utilize a number of distributed cloud-based services to streamline the software deployment workflow. Usually, it embodies two complementary service models:

  • Backend as a Service (BaaS)
  • Function as a Service (FaaS)

Let’s delve into some of their peculiar features. So, BaaS is all about leveraging third-party multitenant architecture capabilities to enhance your own application deployment and delivery efficiencies. Its common features are usually provided as SDKs or API gateways and all the needed actions are executed in the cloud only and are usually referred to as pieces of your legacy on-premise infrastructure or code data. This solution enjoys a truly fast development cycle and shifts full responsibility for software and infrastructure maintenance on BaaS provider’s shoulders. What’s more, its capacities are virtually endless, which enable app developers to scale up the deployment flows on the go.

FaaS platforms like AWS Lambda, for example, are types of event-driven development architecture that ensures robust hosting services while using a pay-per-use model and getting triggered only when some functions or events predetermined by users are slated for action. The common triggers for activating FaaS functions are prescheduled events, file uploads, new commits to a repository, emails, database updates, HTTP API calls and the like. 

The main criteria programmers are paying attention to when choosing a FaaS solution are the simplicity of development and support by the cloud provider. These and other factors of importance are presented on the graphics below.

Data according to The New Stack Serverless Survey 2018

 

When working in duo, the BaaS and FaaS models can help developers to handle complex resource-intensive tasks that involve hosting of your data, infrastructure as well as business logic elements. This said, serverless comprises both of these two approaches, thus giving users a wide scope of functional benefits. The scheme below is to clarify the difference between serverless and other popular cloud-based service solutions (according to TheNewStack Survey).

Serverless: Core use cases

Once serverless architecture has taken the baton from microservices, DevOps and other technology trends, it’s gaining widespread adoption across small- and medium-sized companies and large-scale enterprises. Today, businesses opt for serverless solutions striving to capitalize on faster product launch times, lower operational costs, and boost overall performance. With all its huge potential that yet to be discovered, there are already some areas of serverless utilization where its practical significance for business is indisputable.

  1. Automatic website scalability. After switching to serverless architecture, the provision of infrastructure will be not your pain in the neck anymore. Developers can easily write their code, and create and deploy actionable apps and websites for lesser periods of time. On top of this, this cloud-based solution enables users with fully automated scalability if additional computing resources are needed.
  2. Big data analytics. Serverless can be extremely effective when it comes to orchestrating massive disparate sets of analytical data assets that used to be scattered on local servers and were not unified among back- and front-office teams. Instead, a separate application can be written to gather and process siloed datasets across all business channels. Such a serverless app provides the big data collection, classifying and analysis within a single database.
  3. Enhanced connectivity between IoT devices. Integrating IoT-based devices like various sensors, RDID tags, smartphones, and other gadgets have become a mainstay for most businesses. Here’s where serverless functions come into play, thus helping end-users to avoid frustrative issues with low internet traffic in some problematic areas. What’s more, auto-scaling capacities make it possible to economize on operational expenditures, reduce latency and as a result – greatly improve user experience.

Benefits of using Serverless

Serverless vs microservices architecture for business

The efficiency of EDA (event-driven architecture) that stands behind serverless computing is quite obvious for professionals, since it enjoys the following competitive advantages:

  • Auto-scalable by design. The solution brags about great flexibility allowing to scale up its computational resources and capabilities whenever there is a specific need. And the other way round – regarding lesser processing loads the working environment shrinks when peak time is over.
  • Improved deployment. With serverless capabilities it becomes quite easy and more comfortable for coders to develop and deploy their applications. They no longer have to think about side activities like infrastructure maintenance or timely data syncing. A flexible nature of serverless architecture enables smooth automation of most work processes.
  • Stability. Serverless architecture passes on the lion’s share of your data and infrastructure management responsibilities to your cloud service provider. It frees up a great deal of your team’s business time allowing not to care about facilitating infrastructure, orchestrating and allocating code data, and handling downtime issues as you used to do on your legacy on-premise software platform.
  • Cost-effectiveness. Cost minimization is what really makes serverless stand out from the crowd of other cloud-based solutions, as its pay-per-use approach helps avoid unnecessary app development and deployment expenses. You pay only for the server’s running periods when some scheduled events give rise to respective actions in the cloud.
  • Latency cutback. Due to the fact that all the data assets of a company are hosted on cloud-based servers, it allows an organization to allocate its resources on the nearest available for end-users servers. This ensures smooth connectivity and interoperability of data, without any time-critical failures and system downtimes.

At the end of the day, you are free to choose between utilizing either microservices or serverless frameworks. Moreover, you can easily have them both aligned for your business needs. And ByteAnt is here to help you out with finding the most efficient integration solution, just drop us a line to get a personalized insight and hands-on assistance.

Whether you are creating a cloud-based or a hybrid solution, we have the technical expertise you need.
About the Author
Valeriy is CEO of ByteAnt with over 15 years of experience in software development always focusing and embracing new technologies IoT and SaaS. Besides leading the ByteAnt, Valeriy is a public speaker on tech talks, events, and meetups; mentor and marathon runner.
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