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    Why ‘serverless’ is more than just a buzzword

    Understanding how serverless can help speed up processes and make for more efficient marketing is vital. Matthew Thomas, senior PHP developer, backend development team at Rawnet, explains how. 

    Computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee established the first internet network server in 1990. With this breakthrough physical server, team members could effectively organize, delegate and manage tasks at work with newfound proficiencies.

    However, the digital climate has changed dramatically since those early network days. The pandemic brought on an accelerated digital transformation as the workforce adapted to working remotely.

    These days, going beyond the limitations of a server-based infrastructure with serverless technology has become a rule rather than an exception as we navigate the modern digital economy. You can significantly improve your organizational cost savings and efficiency by outsourcing infrastructure management to a vendor with a customized and meticulous approach.

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    What is serverless?

    Serverless refers to an efficient computing practice that leverages the specialized services of a backend vendor. A serverless framework involves on-demand software resources, rather than conventional on-premise or cloud-based servers. 

    Essentially, by going serverless, you can streamline processes such as maintaining software updates, managing data and safeguarding your most precious documents without time-consuming and tedious server management. The efficiency of a serverless system depends on your preferred vendor and selected subscription plan, where pricing and user features vary.

    Harnessing the benefits of a serverless framework

    Serverless computing provides greater efficiency by taking server management entirely out of the equation. Essentially, serverless architecture provides your organization with greater flexibility, scalability and agile product management, expediting your software launches with significant cost savings.

    A serverless framework offers a feature known as decomposition, which breaks your applications down into smaller bits for improved observability. Enhanced observability enables you to hone in on specific software problems for speedier remediation and maintain optimal system performances.

    Through a serverless system, your team will no longer need to worry about the constraints of server capacity, as the vendor’s trusted server manager scales operations according to your data needs. Serverless plans function through a pay-as-you-go model, so you will never spend more than you need on costly bells and whistles. 

    The code of a serverless system scales according to your operations through the power of automation and software containers. With a serverless framework, you save time calculating and purchasing server space as required by your projects. This means you can free up schedules to invest more time and effort in developing premium products and services.

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    Understanding the drawbacks of serverless systems

    Despite the benefits of a serverless framework in the digital economy, they pose several concerns and may not suit all scenarios. Although a backend server manager takes a substantial load off infrastructure and resource management processes, these may lead to other complexities, including:

    • Cybersecurity: A serverless system puts sensitive data at greater risk than server-based networks through exposure to multiple data channels shared with other organizational systems. These multi-tenancy arrangements could lead to network-wide vulnerabilities when they lack proper configuration and monitoring practices.

    • Price versus performance: Some serverless vendors may provide inefficient coding practices, resulting in cold starts and other technical issues that compromise performance. With serverless services charging based on the duration of running code, a constantly running application might result in higher costs than server-based alternatives.

    • User control: Taking your system serverless reduces the visibility of testing and debugging practices, as you rely on your vendor’s automation and server manager protocols. These arrangements may lead to disruptions and miscommunications during development.

    Is serverless technology right for you?

    When considering the pros and cons of serverless systems, the infrastructure works best in scenarios where users aim to reduce go-to-market time while managing applications with inconsistent usage. However, sticking with a dedicated server might be more cost-effective if you run predictable workloads.

    Who is using serverless systems?

    Many top industry leaders have integrated serverless solutions into their software stacks. The transition from a monolithic server-based structure to dynamic resources on demand has enabled these brands to adapt to rapidly-changing tech and the market landscape.

    For example, California-based open design platform Figma offers users a serverless experience where they can conveniently create and share designs across multiple mobile operating systems. The platform eliminates the chore of server management, so designers can focus on producing projects with quality results.

    From a more technical perspective, German consulting partner Superluminar applies serverless solutions in modernizing the applications of IT companies. Superluminar redefines its client’s system capabilities by replacing server-based infrastructures with code-based alternatives. 

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    AWS, our preferred serverless provider

    When we first started looking for a hosting provider we reviewed Google Cloud Platform, Azure, Digital Ocean, Alibaba Cloud and AWS.

    We found AWS stood out not just with its market position, but also with its stability of wider offerings. According to the State of Serverless 2022 Report, 70% of surveyed companies use AWS as their preferred vendor with over 200 fully-featured services.

    Now circling back to serverless, AWS provides a wide range of serverless services, such as:

    Compute

    • Lambda

    • Fargate

    Application integration

    • Eventbridge

    • Step Functions

    • SQS

    • SNS

    • API Gateway

    • App Sync

    Data store

    • S3

    • Dynamo DB

    • RDS Proxy

    • Aurora Serverless

    Each of these serverless services provides a unique solution to an everyday business application need. For example, let’s talk about Aurora Serverless and a scenario:

    Your application could be a worldwide e-commerce platform with a spiky unpredictable user flow. In traditional database management, you would review your database metrics and ensure you are always catering for the highest potential workloads, and probably then some.

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    This is extremely costly, and scaling the database up and down as the site demand shifts can cause downtime and become extremely costly in another way. Manually managing database capacity can take up valuable time and can lead to inefficient use of database resources. With Aurora Serverless, this will automatically grow to meet the demand but then also shrink, meaning more resilience, no operational overhead and a happy finance team.

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