The Impacts of Serverless Cloud

Aaron Lieberman
4 min readSep 3, 2021

Serverless cloud implementations aren’t for everyone. That’s not meant as some elitist statement. It’s also not meant as a word of caution because, for some companies, serverless is undeniably the best solution. The message is, like any implementation, make sure a serverless cloud implementation is right for you before diving in.

If your company has a culture of innovation, a growing list of integrations to support, the need to scale, and desires agility and the ability to move fast, serverless may be the technology fit. Serverless will support the development of new revenue streams, open you up to new audiences, and support your future business models.

Like any change, moving to a serverless solution for your integrations will impact how your teams operate. It will mean a change at the macro scale (how projects are planned and even if you use an iPaaS) and the micro-scale (including the intricacies of execution).

Serverless Allows You to Replace Your iPaaS

To be clear, sticking with your iPaaS — be it MuleSoft, Boomi, or another solution — is legitimate, viable, and potentially the right choice depending on your company’s business drivers. But, if you’re struggling with some of the limitations of your iPaaS solution, the impacts of serverless can look like a list of advantages.

  • Cost: An iPaaS solution can be costly, crossing over into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. With serverless, you’ll be paying only for what you use.
  • Scalability: When you start to reach the limits of what you’ve purchased for your iPaaS, you’ll see a host of issues, like performance slowdowns. Scaling with an iPaaS means another conversation with the vendor and putting more money into a license.
  • Flexibility: Whether adding instances, scaling up or down, choosing a coding language, or a host of other tasks, serverless computing offers a level of flexibility you can’t reach within the framework of an iPaaS.
  • Innovation: A serverless solution can be available to your team in minutes, without the restrictions around deployment locations. You won’t need to operate inside the confines of the iPaaS.
  • Eliminate Frustration: Whether your frustration is with running out of cores on your current iPaaS license or lack of agency on what to build, how, and when, serverless can alleviate the strain of a lot of things that your iPaaS might slow down.

Impact of Serverless Computing on Roles

Serverless might sound like the ideal solution so far but migrating to a serverless solution will impact every role in your technical organization, and a few in the business, too.

Developers

For developers, moving to a serverless solution is a significant change, but not an unwelcome one. Unlike the drag-and-drop creation of microservices in an iPaaS, developers will be writing actual code. But there is flexibility in the language used, including Big Compass’s preferred languages, NodeJS and Java.

Developers will also be able to create completely custom integrations, instead of trying to make a connector do what they want. Yet they will also have the option of using cloud-native components that can be spun up quickly and then configured, not coded.

Admins

Knowing the cloud provider’s systems and tools is the significant change for admins. That knowledge will be important for provisioning infrastructure and setting up IAM security and role-based access control.

Architects

Knowledge of the cloud provider’s offerings and capabilities is key for architects, too. But architects must go one step further and shift the way they think about spinning up environments and scaling.

Concurrency and de-duplication are critical considerations within serverless solutions for architects. Duplicated services can be a big “gotcha. Also, because services are running in parallel, architects need to think in terms of horizontal scaling instead of vertical. It’s no longer about throwing a lot of power at one process, but extending horizontally to allow many processes to run concurrently. This concurrency can have unintended consequences, so it’s important that an architect takes downstream flooding into consideration.

DevOps

A serverless solution to DevOps means that all of the assets are on a single platform. It’s therefore important — and fortunately easy — to spin up different environments to handle your application’s lifecycle. A single platform doesn’t mean your team should move away from having structured, separate environments for dev, testing, and production.

DevOps have several options for environment separation, including logical with a single account, physical separation across multiple accounts, and even physical separation by region. Regardless of the means used, a CI/CD process and promotion governance are still important to prevent changes from impacting users in production.

Stakeholders

Executives, VPs, and directors should be concerned with creating and maintaining a culture of innovation and growth to align with moving to a cloud-native strategy. These elements, along with scalability to meet nearly any volume, are the core of what the cloud provides. Without alignment to that vision, migration to serverless computing and integrations could move the business away from strategies that might better facilitate meeting the business’s drivers.

Users

The impact on users is an overall positive one. Fixes can occur rapidly. Improvements can be continuous. Because it’s simple to separate environments, users are less likely to be affected by issues or premature changes to the system. Overall, applications and services become easier to use and are quickly improved.

The switch to the serverless cloud isn’t the right decision for every business. But for those with the need for flexibility and support for innovation, it can be precisely the right decision.

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Aaron Lieberman

Aaron’s passion for technology drives him to find innovative ways to help advance organizations through technology.