Serverless architecture vs. microservices: Future of business digitalization

serverless architecture

Serverless architecture and microservices are becoming the driving force behind the rapid digital adaptation for many companies around the data-driven world.

In practice, companies have to put enormous investments into server development, which commonly exceed the financial capacity of almost every organization. In this case, some giants would host servers and microservices serving other businesses adopting scalable targets. Instead of owning three fundamental indicators of monolithic architectures, software development companies currently leverage serverless architectures for project executions.

In this article, we indicate the concept of serverless architecture vs. microservices. Moreover, how do companies benefit from it?

Related article: An introduction to Microservice

Serverless architecture – The beginning

The traditional approach imposed that monolithic architecture is building from three pillars. From which they are central databases, web servers, and the browser. Accordingly, app development companies must pursue those assets to deliver an app. The user interface or the browser refers to the part commonly eating only small costs. However, hosting a web server or building a physical database is rarely an easy task in the context of any business.

Even when a company has enough money to invest in a physical server/database, it might lack an in-house development team to build and maintain it. The financial and technical gaps are the key driving force of serverless architecture vs. microservices development.

The concept of serverless architecture and microservices

Serverless architecture same as its name, meaning no need for any physical server in the software development process. Thus, the company could execute tasks without any investment in building and maintaining physical hardware. Instead, serverless cloud computing by third-party could be a considerable and affordable solution.

When it comes to serverless architecture, you should notice two sides:

  1. FaaS- Function as a Services: That allows developers to run their code module in third-party environments
  2. BaaS – Backend as a service: this model leases all backend elements, including databases, servers, and more. In which, software developers could hire those infrastructures as using vendor services. In many cases, using BaaS means you use backend development outsourcing services.
Related article: Top useful Agile Metrics for measuring the development process

So, what are microservices? Microservices tend to be separated and independent functions connected by APIs. In fact, each microservices own its fundamental elements, allowing it to run independently without any other triggers. Basically, each microservices have three elements, including database, libraries, and templates.

In practice, software development teams would break down a whole app development project into small functionality, which can be independently developed. The purpose of this action refers to speeding up the development process when several teams could develop parts of projects simultaneously. Since each functionality can run independently, it is known as a microservice. A software development project can be done by assembling from available microservices instead of new development processing.

Accordingly, the microservice architectures enable easy-to-fig and easy-to-deploy. Hence, it becomes more and more popular in the software development infrastructure. 

serverless architecture patterns
Related article: Microservice Architecture – Concept, Pattern and Elements

Serverless computing examples

As mentioned above, serverless architectures could be an essential part of the IT development sector. The popularity of cloud computing also accelerates the widespread of serverless services. So, what are the real-world examples of serverless computing?

Serverless computing examples Description
Amazon Web Services (AWS) Popular cloud computing service, trusted by many large software development companies
Google Cloud Functions Zero-server management services for code running
Azure functions Microsoft serverless computing services for solving complex orchestration problems
AWS API Gateway and triggers an AWS Lambda function Serverless computing for payment transactions, used by Coca-Cola
Oracle Fn Project Serverless platform supporting all programming language
Kubeless A serverless framework provide cloud underlying infrastructure

A prevalent team communication tool, Slack is benefited from using serverless architectures. It leverages the Marbot serverless application to connect the Dev-Ops team and the AWS. Its architecture allows Slack to process an enormous number of requests in real-time.

Everyone knows the Beverage manufacturer Coca-Cola, but not all people know that it also used serverless cloud computing for its distribution channel. The management board realized using API gateway in payment transactions could save the cost of running vending machines. That’s why they choose the AWS lambda function.

Related article: Integrating Mobile app payment gateway

Serverless cloud computing

A part of cloud computing where users have to handle all the elements in software development, serverless cloud computing helps them forget all except the code. On the other hand, cloud computing only provides an environment or data center. And serverless cloud computing is a more specific service inside cloud computing.

Serverless computing meaning and BaaS – Backend as a service

Where serverless architecture involves two sides, functions and backend, serverless computing refers to the backend side. Thus, when it comes to serverless computing meaning, it can be seen as cloud backend services. Software development companies adopt serverless computing by a serverless vendor, which provides cloud servers for auto-scaling.

Returning in the initial time of web and mobile app developments, companies had to invest in underlying infrastructures (servers/ physical hardware). From which, it was expensive, deterring the scalability.

In the concept of serverless cloud computing, software companies would not need to buy, but rent a number of remote servers. Obviously, the cost for hiring will be significantly cheaper. Dedicated development teams only need to define the hired unit, ensuring load capacity for each project. Moreover, remote servers also benefit software outsourcing projects, empowering scalability and flexibility.

Serverless architecture Traditional server architecture
Remote cloud server by serverless computing providers The company invested in physical software
Code execution-only Buring machine resort for running code
Pay for hiring fee Need initial investment to buy the whole system
Complex management process of access control via API Simple management by local control
Scaling with cheap cost by hiring more cloud server Expensive in upgrading current server architecture
Less latency by available datacenter around the world Higher latency due to hosting in a premises server
Enable rapid development since only code needs to be a concern The development progress would be slow with monolithic architecture

Pros and cons of serverless architecture

Serverless architecture vs. microservices is expected to change the gage of DevOps by closing the gap between development and execution.

What benefits of using serverless architectures?

  1. Operation cost-cutting: serverless architecture means outsourcing all infrastructure costs, which helps businesses deter the risk of hardware issues and maintenance. Startups with a limited budget would be more beneficial from the serverless architecture concept. In which, they adopt the latest technology and infrastructure with minimum hiring cost.
  2. System security and benefits focus: Serverless architecture clearly divides the role of each business within its models. Each part plays a different role that reinforces the collaboration among companies. They now focus on their core business. More particular, server provider businesses could launch their service for leasing infrastructures, while other companies focus on their software development solutions or the logic side of the app.
  3. Continuous delivery: The philosophy of serverless architectures refers to executing web and app development projects that follow microservices. Hence, a project would break into small parts (microservices). Accordingly, updated or added new features could be applied to some parts instead of the whole software solution. That’s why the app could be running during the update and improvement process.

What drawbacks are behind the popularity of serverless architecture?

  1. Long learning curve: Despite having several advantages, companies also suffer from challenges coming from the technician shortage. In fact, serverless architecture vs. microservices is new advancements that are young. It needs to be further developed. In this case, having talents to handle those services might trouble software development companies. Using serverless architectures induces difficulties in management and debug compared with testing code in the local environment.
  2. Vendor constraints and lock-in: Since serverless technology is young, serverless providers are under mature currently. They are not perfect and sometimes suffer issues in operation. Take AWS as an example. Its Lambda function services restrict time to 5 minutes. Also, lack of integration and signorine refer to other significant challenges in serverless architectures. Each provider has its own specification and implementation. Hence, app and server migration might induce risks.

Serverless architecture vs microservices: Future of IT industry

Step into the new digital world, preparing knowledge about serverless architecture is significant to developers growing their career path. Here are some examples:

Serverless architecture patterns

Since each serverless architecture provider follows its own implementation, the design for Serverless architecture patterns varies depending on particular services.

Simple Web Service 

serverless architecture diagram for simple web service

Robust API: using API gateway connect lambda function with third-party API 

Streams and Pipelines for data streaming with a lambda function 

serverless architecture diagram for data streaming

What should companies need to prepare for the era of serverless architecture?  

You could see the current market for serverless architecture providers has restricted in limited dominated players. Due to the huge gap in technologies, financial capability, and talents, the serverless market today is becoming more the lucrative cake for some tech giants (Amazon, Microsoft, and Google). However, other entrants are sharing the cake, they are the second-tier players.   

Security and vendor restraint will be expectedly solved these days. As the fundamental part of projects, delivery is secured network and drive. With poor security performance, serverless architecture could not expand their audience group. The concern about cyber security in serverless services deters software companies from choosing this solution. Currently, a survey proved that roundly 20% of serverless projects suffered vulnerable operation issues, from which hackers could attack to damage the whole software solutions.   

Additionally, instead of technical and business context, the future of serverless would pursue the global issue, which is the environmental impact. The green project for serverless computing would take into account. We expect to see several further research and investments in hardware reducing toxic radiation. 


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