Serverless components of the cloud feel a lot like cognitive dissonance. How does an application exist and function without a server?
No one really thinks that’s what serverless means, of course. Instead, it’s a way to express the lack of required awareness or need to manage infrastructure for your applications and services.
The cloud is available for any kind of initiative you can imagine, from security and networking, infrastructure and AI, and so much more. At Big Compass, when we talk about leveraging serverless cloud, we’re referring to its ability to help with integration and transformation challenges. And serverless can play an important role in those initiatives.
Understanding how a technology can fit into your integration and digital transformation landscape can be as much about learning what it is as clearing up misconnections about it. And there are several misconceptions about serverless cloud that can hold you back from taking advantage of everything it has to offer in on-prem, cloud, and hybrid environments.
Misconception: We need servers or an iPaaS for integration.
Let’s just get this out of the way first — an iPaaS solution is not always necessary. Serverless cloud can be the vehicle that powers your integrations in a different way than an iPaas provider. Depending on your larger architectural plans and roadmap, an integration platform might be what you want or can even play a partial role in the grand scheme, but the power of serverless cloud with providers like AWS or Azure can allow an organization to do more with less.
Serverless integration services can be created using cloud-native tools, tools available in your cloud environment, or you can roll your own. Transformation layers can be built using any number of languages, and there are a lot of open-source libraries available that can reduce the lift required. Whether you’re converting from JSON to XML, CSV to JSON, EDI 850 to XML, or any number of other transformations, there are libraries that can provide the bulk of the functionality.
Not only do you not need an iPaaS, but you also don’t need servers to power your integrations at scale. Serverless cloud implementations are architected in a way that make them always available and always ready but are only used when needed. This makes serverless cloud a perfect candidate for integration projects and platforms.
Misconception: Serverless means all of our business processes must change.
Another misconception is that your business processes will need to change to accommodate a new serverless architecture. The truth is, the use of serverless integration components should be completely opaque to the business user, and business processes won’t need to change at all.
Serverless components allow you to connect anything to anything. It may change the way you develop your integrations or how they are invoked behind the scenes, but the processes driving that functionality shouldn’t need to change to map to new integration implementations.
Misconception: Serverless is less secure.
Two significant concerns with serverless are that you’ll lose control of the environment your services reside in and that overall, serverless architecture is less secure.
In truth, serverless cloud is inherently secure in part because there is less to manage. The responsibility of securing the infrastructure the serverless component runs on is now the responsibility of the cloud provider like AWS or Azure. That does not alleviate the responsibility of the developer to create APIs and services that execute securely, but that would be true no matter the environment.
Control for the environment comes from your Identity Access Management (IAM). Typically, your cloud provider offers Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) that manages access to resources and services and the degree to which those roles can interact with those resources.
Misconception: We’ll need specific cloud knowledge and skills to use serverless.
This one is tough because the answer is “kind of.” Yes, you need some knowledge of the cloud. And eventually, you’ll need some cloud-native expertise within your organization to correctly implement a solution. But you’re likely to have some knowledge and experience already — enough to plan and get started, or at least to communicate effectively and allow consulting experts to take on the heavy lifting.
Most people in IT already have at least a little knowledge and experience with what the cloud is and how it operates. This knowledge lessens the obstacles in getting the business to understand the positive impact of moving to serverless cloud and how it can benefit the company.
Also, a lot of knowledge is transferable from legacy integrations to the serverless cloud. Moving components to a serverless architecture isn’t reinventing the wheel; it’s just learning how to use a new, slightly different version of the wheel. What’s key to remember is that integration best practices transfer to the cloud, too. The core elements of building an excellent integration architecture and executing on that are the same no matter where you’re creating your services and APIs. Serverless isn’t a big, scary technology that will require you to change how you run your business completely. Don’t be afraid to explore how a serverless cloud implementation could benefit your integrations. With the right strategy and guidance, you can incorporate serverless into your digital transformation planning and design.