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What is Serverless Architecture, Popular Use Cases, the Advantages, and Limitations

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DhiWise

June 3, 2022
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DhiWise

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June 3, 2022
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The word “Serverless architecture” or simply “Serverless” is creating a lot of buzz over the last few years. The perks and benefits offered by cloud companies have started attracting organizations to adopt serverless technologies. 

The reason is simple!

Running an app on the high maintenance services can be very costly and has lots of other headaches. So, Going serverless can be a big relief for the dev team and dedicated DevOps engineers. Developers working closely with the backend, certainly don’t want to fall behind with the trends. 

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What is serverless architecture?

Serverless architecture is an approach to software development that enables backend developers and the DevOps team to build and run apps without managing the underlying app infrastructure. 

It facilitates a way to reduce the backend architectural responsibilities by providing the necessary features to automatically scale, store and maintain the database with necessary tooling options.  

According to the recent survey conducted by O’Reilly, nearly40% of the organizations have adopted serverless architecture. Similarly, as per the Verified Market Research, the Global Serverless Architecture Market size was valued to be USD 7.29 Billion in 2020 and is expected to reach USD 36.84 Billion by 2028, growing at the rate of 21.71%.

How does it work?

Serverless architecture is based on the Function as a Service Model, it is used by developers to execute specific functions. The model is also known as Compute as a Service, these are the stateless backend functions that are fully manageable, and scalable.  

Developers write functions that serve specific purposes in the app and then define an event that triggers the function to be executed, for example- an HTTP request. Finally, the cloud provider executes the code and sends the result back to the web app.

AWS Lambda, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and IBM OpenWhisk are the top providers of serverless services.

Popular use cases of serverless architecture implementation

1.Figma- A design tool with a collaborative interface

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Figma is a vector graphics editor, designing, and primarily web-based prototyping tool, and also has additional desktop and mobile applications. The company was established in 2012 and provides a good alternative to Adobe Photoshop.

Figma has the following features:

  • Cloud-based platform
  • Simplified data sharing and collaboration
  • Real-time data synchronization
  • Works on Android, iOS, and Linux 
  • Figma design files can be shared using the link

Figma serverless architecture allows millions of designers, developers, and other professionals to focus on the design and collaboration with much efficiency rather than manually managing the design files. All of it is a result of the right implementation of serverless technology.

2.Netflix- Online media streaming and production company

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Netflix is a very well-known broadcasting company in the market that has millions of customers all around the world. It uses AWS Lambda serverless technology to run its operations that otherwise require lots of planning and effort.

AWS has benefited Netflix in the many different ways,

  • The media encoding process is automated by the event-based triggers. 
  • Alters and shuts down the instances if unauthorized access is detected. 
  • Simplify media publishing, and encoding by using a series of rules and events.
  • Automatically detects the cause of an issue in the case something goes wrong. 

3.Nordstrom- A department store chain based in Seattle, Washington

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The company has adopted event-driven applications and created an open-source serverless architecture. The “Hello Retail” is the Nordstrom technology open source project that is a 100% serverless, event-driven framework, and the functional proof of concept based on the immutable, ordered, and distributed ledger. The approach is utilized to solve the problems in the retail space.

Advantages and disadvantages of serverless architecture

Let's look into the awesomeness and limitations of serverless architecture.

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Advantages

1.Servers are managed by cloud providers so the developers can better focus on product development.

Serverless computing runs on servers that are completely managed by cloud service providers. So you have zero server management with an easy scalability option.

2.CDN reduces latency issues

As CDN and edge networks enable you to run the serverless functions on the servers that are close to end-users around the globe, you can ensure faster content delivery.

3.Save cost, no need to purchase additional servers.

With the traditional server-based architecture, developers have to predict and purchase the additional servers to ensure your application should not face any bottleneck or downtime. However, with the serverless approach, the users will be charged for what they have used. 

Moreover, as the server maintenance is taken care of by the cloud providers, you don't have to pay the server maintenance and the hardware cost. 

4.Can scale endlessly and automatically

The app built with serverless architecture can scale as you need. So there is no need to worry about any spike in traffic that may cause performance downtime.

5.Dedicated to security

You might be thinking that allowing vendors to control the app backend may cause security issues. But you must understand that the cloud vendors are dedicated to providing the most secure, efficient, and high-quality service possible. Because for any business model it's important to enforce the best practices.

6.Faster development

Going serverless accelerates app development and enables rapid deployment which is critical in the case you need to launch apps faster in the market.

Disadvantages

Every evolving technology needs some time to meet perfection. The same goes true for serverless technology. The technology has a few disadvantages which are given below.

1.Vendor lock issue

With serverless architecture, you need to rely on the providers. You have limited control over your backend.

2.Inefficiencies due to long-running apps

Long-running processes can be more costly on the serverless application. So, in such a case it is always better to have a dedicated server. 

There are other issues like cold start and security but both the issues can be resolved with the proper tools and techniques. 

Conclusion:

After going through all this stuff, we can conclude that, though the traditional server-based model has its own benefits, going with the request-driven serverless architecture has a high potential to reduce your workload during app development and deployment. 

It benefits you by reducing the operational cost while accelerating the development process with faster setup, and backend operations management. So, get a clear idea about your app demands and be sure to adopt serverless architecture. 

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