The advantages of serverless integration are like the benefits of traditional cloud computing, cranked up to 11. But misconceptions about serverless have kept many architects from exploring it as a viable alternative to legacy and iPaaS solutions.
Let’s take a closer look at these advantages and explore how they might align with your specific environment needs.
Scalability as an issue can rear its ugly head in several ways. Systems can become slow, or you can hit the ceiling on what an app can handle. You may be using a monolithic application that isn’t flexible enough to respond to the increased load or easily add new services. Whatever the core reason, a problem with scaling can be better managed with serverless.
A common use case is the need to process a large number of messages or large data sets and handling bursts of traffic. In many integration models, this will slow down your ability to route messages or data, can delay information, and might even risk pegging your CPU capacity while large chunks of data are shoved through the integration. It’s a problem that only gets worse as you grow or as demand for the data increases — like when more teams begin connecting to a system of record or a client increases their message throughput.
With a serverless implementation, like on AWS Lambda, messages can be split across workloads processing individual messages faster and at a fraction of the cost. The best part is, the environment can scale almost infinitely. That’s because serverless microservices like AWS Lambda’s are built to scale horizontally so they can handle a massive number of concurrent workloads effortlessly. Serverless components, like those available with DynamoDB, are also ready to provide more capacity at the click of a button.
Scaling is “out of the box” functionality for many serverless services — including API Gateway, SQS, AWS Lambda, and DynamoDB — meaning you’ll need to spend less time thinking about, planning, and managing scaling events. Besides making scaling easier, it’s also the perfect choice for services that see spikes in traffic (including peaks and valleys), like customer databases, CRMs, or inventory management during peak sales periods.
The magnitude of the cost difference between a serverless solution and an iPaaS solution can be staggering. Licensing fees and hosting costs can run into six-figures, while a serverless integration solution may only cost one-tenth of that. Add on to that any number of challenges — poor ROI for your current solution, low margin, challenges devising a pricing model, or difficulty separating customer traffic for billing — and serverless computing begins to make a lot of sense.
If you run very low workloads, the advantages of scalability with serverless may be lost on you. However, with many serverless services, you are only charged for actual usage. Low workloads mean low usage, which means a lower cost.
A serverless solution results in a lower cost than an iPaaS as well. An iPaaS license is a fixed cost, and capacity for licenses is a guessing game — you either purchase enough or hit your ceiling at the worst time. A pay-per-use model means variable costs, but you’ll also only pay for what you use, and predicting traffic through a system is a common exercise that yields accurate cost models.
Working in technology has always been about learning something new and exciting. But the cloud isn’t about learning a new syntax or methodology. It’s an entirely new concept. One that serverless computing takes one step further.
As a result, some teams are timid when it comes to using the cloud, fearing they have the wrong skillsets to be effective. In reality, serverless allows teams to leverage what they already know and combine that with the democratized knowledge available through numerous tutorials available all over the web.
For instance, an architect familiar with building in a legacy environment can accomplish the same task in the cloud. Without a great deal of knowledge acquisition, they can get started building out the serverless infrastructure almost immediately.
The skills that your teams used to support legacy systems can be leveraged to architect a serverless solution and create resources. And, as mentioned, if their knowledge is lacking, there is a wide range of easy to access documentation readily available and the experts at Big Compass ready to help with the most complex serverless integrations.
Security becomes more and more important daily and requires increasingly specialized knowledge to stay on top of. If your teams are constantly updating your infrastructure’s security or you have known vulnerabilities in your legacy systems, it’s time to look at serverless.
Serverless solutions place the responsibility for security and risk mitigation in the hands of the service provider. An open port on a Linux server can lead to an attack on a legacy system — serverless components like AWS Lambda have no open ports to attack.
Serverless minimizes your overall threat surface, and your teams are relieved from managing infrastructure. They use common security best practices for identity management (IAM) and entry points, and serverless assets are completely configuration driven.
The reliability of components is the reputational currency of an IT department. When components of your system go down, or there are continuity issues, the trust with the rest of the business is damaged. At the same time, architecture and support teams have lost sleep on high priority incident management.
Within a region, many serverless solutions are highly available out of the box. The path to high availability is as simple as setting up the service. Plus, serverless components can be made highly available across regions during a catastrophe or natural disaster.
Disruption is everywhere, and for some businesses, the ability to innovate quickly is a do or die proposition. Excessive backlogs or lack of flexibility with your current solution can be stifling and cause increases in your time to market for new products and services.
Serverless solutions can be available in minutes on providers like Azure and AWS when using a template, following a tutorial, or using prior implementation knowledge. There is no need to deploy to a specific location, and rapid instantiation reduces the time to produce an MVP.
It also offers the ultimate flexibility, since your solution is built from the ground up using serverless cloud-native technology. Coding languages don’t restrict the solution and separating environments to create playgrounds or sandboxes is trivial. Plus, serverless gives you the ability to use conventional integration techniques: topics, queues, messaging backbones, and more.
Serverless is frequently misunderstood, even by seasoned architects. But don’t let misconceptions about serverless computing hold you back from exploring and planning a serverless cloud computing environment. The advantages are extensive and can solve most challenges modern integration solutions might face.