- What is serverless computing?
- Top Cloud provider available in the market
- AWS Lambda
- Microsoft Azure
- Google Cloud Functions
- IBM Cloud Functions
- Cloudflare Workers
- Bonus – Alibaba Functions
What is serverless computing?
The backend services are provided to the end-users using an effective method called serverless computing. Businesses around the world shift their operational responsibilities to third-party services providers using this native cloud architecture. So that they don’t have to worry about the basic architecture as they write and deploy the code.
The serverless architecture model is one of the best cloud execution models. The computer resources and the storage needed to implement a certain piece of code are often changed and allocated by the cloud services providers under the cloud execution model.
Although the servers are used during the entire process, the provisioning and the maintenance of these servers are taken care of by the service providers. Users don’t have to concern themselves with these types of issues at all. Even though there are several cloud vendors who provide better products and services, the ultimate choice most of the business owners need to make comes down to Azure vs Lambda. Because they are not only the most popular and widely used serverless computing platforms but also the leaders of this particular market. So to consider long-term success you have to know how much they are useful to your business and application. For that, you have to compare their functionalities, service integrations, characteristics and limitations as well. Read more on AWS vs Azure.
In the early days of the web, people had to buy and manage all the physical hardware that is needed to run a server if they were to think about developing an application. As you can understand this undertaking was already unmanageable and very expensive. So when the cloud became a reality, it not only revolutionized the entire IT sector but also gave the developers a basic objective of providing convenience and ease to the users while handling the servers or app infrastructure.
Even in those times, the concept of serverless computing was coined as renting a fixed server unit space. In such cases, the service provider companies had to make sure that any spike in the traffic or other activities did not exceed the limits of their monthly services. because if that happens, their entire system could crash including the application. So it’s pretty clear now why rented server space was a complete waste after all.
But things are very different now. Today if you are talking about serverless architecture then it will be referring to the FaaS and BaaS offerings. Here, the businesses have to write their code that would pursue only their business logic which is later uploaded to the provider. Then leave the rest of the things for the provider to take care of like virtual machines, hardware provisioning, container management along with the tasks like multithreading which are mostly created inside the code of an application.
When you make a request then only you will be able to trigger the code which will be invoked because all the serverless functions are event-driven in common. So for any company that will be using serverless computing services then the price for the services will be based on the computation. You don’t have to pay for or need to reserve a fixed bandwidth or some servers because the serverless computing services are in itself autoscaling.
Top Cloud provider available in the market
Being a FaaS service vendor, AWS Lambda helps you run code without any need for provisioning or managing a server. When the function is about to be triggered, AWS lambda is the one that works at the time. Because it is an amazing and effective event-driven platform. The code executed by it loads directly to the function only.
Amazon web services are the provider of this efficient serverless computing platform. You can use it to create functions in several languages as well as write some self-contained apps. AWS Lambda also allows you to upload your coded functions on it to make sure that you get an effective, flexible, and efficient execution in return.
You can leverage this platform to discover a complete serverless space which could prove to be a standard on which other serverless services will be measured. Although the paid services are available from Amazon web services for this platform on a pay-as-you-go pricing model, you can always use the trial.
Microsoft Azure is a pre-made package containing more than 100 serverless tools for software development, deployment, testing, and administration. The platform does not rely on any kind of local resources and instead uses edge and cloud computing. Although Microsoft Azure has a distinct characteristic, it has a close connection with DevOps because their tools are focused on helping developers with continuous integration, testing, and deployment.
Microsoft Azure brings together hundreds if not thousands of development and deployment tools on a single platform. So, the price to subscribe to their services depends upon how much computing power does your app need, the size of the tools, what tools they use, and the technology stack of the project. The platform also features a price calculator that takes all the above-mentioned factors into account to provide an approximate cost of the Azure plan.
Some of the advantages of using this platform includes –
Cybersecurity: data security, risk prevention, network safety, identity management, and centralized visibility, this platform offers specialized tools for all kinds of things.
Scalability options: You can plan your project investment and can always check out the cost of the updated version.
Some limitations of the platform are –
Requires knowledge of server management: Azure provides more customized options than any other platform. But in return, it requires that developers and product owners have an understanding of server management.
Low-performance speed: Azure is slower than other platforms in processing requests.
Now let us consider some use cases. Every year, HP manages more than 600 million contacts just because its consumer support is empowered with Azure. It is a very challenging task to organize customer contacts, call data, and support information and it also takes up a lot of space. HP leveraged Microsoft Azure cloud and its serverless tools that are integrated with AI to create a conversational agent that can help them overcome this problem.
On the other hand, Asos wanted to enhance their services by making them more personalized so they decided to migrate to Microsoft Azure in 2016. They needed to respond quickly to the requests as well as execute different features in a short period along with their latest customer experience models.
Google Cloud Functions
You can run your code on the cloud or locally without worrying about server management ever again when you are using this serverless computing platform. You can also track your app or cloud solution easily using the delivery and monitoring features of Google cloud functions. More importantly, it helps the developers to concentrate more on writing code for their applications and not concerning themselves with other complex factors like creating, deploying, or managing their apps.
The companies who are already using Google cloud services will benefit greatly from this solution as it also offers effective integration with other Google services with a user-friendly interface. The pricing model includes – a pro version of this platform is available from $0.40/million invocations and a free Spark plan.
IBM Cloud Functions
IBM is relatively new to the serverless market in comparison to the other players. But the company has a stronghold in the market with a wide range of services to offer. IBM Cloud Functions is the single most managed infrastructure solution in cloud services.
The service provider would offer a set of services that would enable you to launch the app on the managed cloud infrastructure. You can also enjoy the advantages of the FaaS concept if you execute it all properly as IBM offers enough capabilities for it too.
Bonus – Alibaba Functions
If you are looking for an event-driven platform for programming, development, and other updates then Alibaba Functions is the right choice for you. Their services will help you enhance the computing power in real-time which will enable you to undertake seamless scaling. And the best thing? You have to only pay for the services that you use and there are no fees for inactive times. For hardware, if you want a CPU with a Linux-based instance with 2 GB memory then you could get it for $19 per month.
An easy trigger mechanism is used to start the functions. For that, developers have to either compute APIs or code a trigger in SDK. It is one of those rare serverless framework platforms that can allow you to access Chinese nods as it has business connections in China and Asia. This platform supports a large set of programming languages like Java, Python, and PHP.
Talking about limitations, the pricing plans of Alibaba are less flexible than other platforms and are more expensive than AWS. The functionalities of the serverless framework are also very limited in comparison to its more popular competitors like Azure or AWS. As Alibaba is based in China, it is hard to find an active English-speaking community. So finding guidance or educational resources or forums in English is also tougher than for other western vendors.
Ford decided to start using Alibaba services when it started actively promoting its products in the Chinese market. They migrated to the Alibaba cloud and opted for Functions Compute to deploy their Chinese audience-related content. Apart from that, when AirAsia wanted to secure their website and tickets booking application, they came to Alibaba to improve their round trip time and low latency performance. Air Asia is one of the biggest low-cost airlines in Asia and they are using Alibaba’s security resources to identify and prevent any suspicious access attempts.
If you are thinking about saving all the infrastructure management and hosting costs then going serverless is the perfect choice you can make. Although migrating your legacy apps to the cloud might be challenging, if you are working on creating a modern app then you should consider serverless architecture for it. Serverless computing is the future. What do you think?