Severless Frameworks 101: What Are They and How Do They Work?

With human beings now creating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data a day, it’s no longer feasible for every company to hold on to that data.

Serverless frameworks have come to save us space and help create a more efficient data environment to service everyone. If you’re new to the concept of cloud computing or going serverless, you might need some assistance in preparing your company for this kind of architecture.

Understanding what it means to go serverless is complicated. Here’s everything you need to know before you take your business in that direction.

What is Serverless Anyway?

While some people don’t even understand what a server is meant to do in the first place, they might be perfectly fine with a serverless framework.

A server is where you store and process all the data that you use. If you run a company or an application where you have people log in, the server is going to be where they send their password. The server is going to check the password, and give them access to the sliver of data they have stored on there.

When you go serverless, you’re using a cloud computing solution where the cloud provider is going to manage the allocation and provision of data. There are going to be physical servers somewhere, but they’re going to be managed by a cloud provider that could be in a far away or off-site location. Every small business needs to have a platform that’s ready to grow when they are.

In the coming years, more companies and service providers are slated to go serverless. With the help of the latest coding frameworks, it’s possible to have fast services that don’t require standard server architecture.

Pricing Schemes are Different

When you go serverless, you’re likely going to save some money. The cost of provisioning servers, maintaining them, and replacing them by professional engineers is a major undertaking. Even if you ran a small business, you used to need an IT person on staff to manage those servers and keep them online.

The cost model when you pay for serverless architecture is going to usually be calculated in how much execution you have. You pay for a number of seconds of use related to the kind of memory that you require.

When you have a simple system that requires very little interaction and very little work on resources, you can get a lot of power for next to nothing.

The advantage is that if you have a low-volume month, you’re not going to pay the same amount as you normally would. Your payments go up with your usage, allowing you to save money when things get slow and to scale up as they get more intense.

Know Your APIs

When you’re working with a serverless system, you’re going to have to get chummy with private APIs. You can’t use serverless functions without an API gateway. You’ll need to have someone on staff who knows how to set these things up.

Under standard physical server systems, you’d be able to have people access your IP directly. In the absence of a physical IP, your API gateway takes its place. This won’t impact your pricing or process but has a lot to do with how things are set up technically.

There are a Lot of Potential Dependencies

Most every project you’d ever work on is going to have a lot of external dependencies. You’ll be relying on a lot of libraries build by third parties that you don’t have a lot of control over. They might use a different language or framework that you rely on, which can make things feel complicated.

However, this is becoming the standard with everything from image processing to data collection. The function of these libraries can be intensive and intrinsic to your project, meaning that you have to lean on them pretty heavily.

If you don’t have system-level access, you’re going to have to package these dependencies into the application on its own. Third-party libraries can save you a lot of time, and so if you just have a few, serverless architecture is no problem. However, if you rely on these pretty heavily, traditional architecture is going to be a better setup for you.

Beware of Timeouts

If you have a complicated new system that you’re still working out the kinks on, you might suffer more timeouts than the average application. However, when you go serverless, you’re faced with a hard 300-second limit. When you go beyond that for loading or processing data, serverless architecture is going to fail.

A hard timeout is going to hit you when you’re running a long function or trying to complete a big task. This hard limit makes serverless architecture the wrong choice for a lot of applications that have execution times that vary a lot.

If devices that connect or services that you use need a lot of data from an external source, you’re going to struggle. As your project scales up, you could see longer processing needs and if this timeout is constantly hanging over you, you could lose customers. You don’t get a chance to find out what the error is on larger production when you’re at risk of timing out.

If you end up working with AWS, check out this tool for AWS Lambda Debugging, as the error codes are constantly being expanded.

Serverless Frameworks Can Future Proof You

If you want to be prepared to be future proof and have a setup that easily integrated with what’s to come in tech, you should build serverless frameworks. You’ll be able to work more fluidly and provide faster service to your customers time and time again.

To make your life easier, check out our latest tips for some tech hacks to improve your workflow.