A Small Business Owner’s Guide to the Pros and Cons of Serverless Architectures

For a small business owner, the overhead costs of maintaining in-house servers are hair-raising. Not only do you have to pay for the servers themselves, but any servers need employees to support them, driving up your labor budget. 

That’s why serverless architecture is an absolute boon for small business owners. The servers still exist in “serverless” architecture, but you’ll never have to deal with them. In the serverless model, you essentially pay to rent space on someone else’s server, and they take care of the backend maintenance for you. 

Like any other architecture, serverless has its advantages as well as disadvantages. If you’re on the fence about outsourcing your hardware, here’s the small business owner’s guide to the pros and cons of serverless architecture. 

Pros of serverless architecture

Without a doubt, serverless represents a significant edge for your IT needs. Besides numerous benefits for application development, serverless can also positively impact your workflow by cutting downtime spent on the backend. 

If you’re already chomping at the bit to sever your servers, Akka Serverless from Lightbend is an excellent way to capitalize on the benefits of serverless architectures. 

Here are some notable advantages of serverless architecture:

Reduced costs 

One of serverless architecture’s most significant claims to fame is its low cost. 

Business owners only pay for the data they actually use, eliminating the costs associated with bulky, unscalable in-house servers. You can scale up as your data needs increase or cut expenses as they decrease. Either way, you’re never stuck holding the bandwidth bag for space you don’t even need. 

Enhanced scalability

The serverless architecture model allows automatic scaling of any business application. 

For example, if app usage increases or the user base expands suddenly, the app will scale automatically. Users’ location doesn’t matter as serverless providers are almost everywhere to ensure no delays in the app performance.

Fewer worries

First, a business owner doesn’t have to pay for any maintenance costs. That’s because the business isn’t managing any backend infrastructure. The cloud provider takes charge of all maintenance problems.

Secondly, security is not a concern. The service provider takes care of potential hacks, patches, and updates.

Allows for more focus on user experience

Your users aren’t interested in the backend infrastructure. Users care about your app’s features, so why shouldn’t you do the same?

Now that you don’t need to worry about server maintenance, you can channel your time and effort towards enhancing customer-facing elements. Look for ways to make the user experience in your app even better and more engaging.

Cons of serverless architecture

Sadly, despite the many benefits serverless architecture brings, it has some disadvantages. Some of the downfalls of going serverless include:

Vendor lock-in

Unfortunately, handing over your server management also means handing over your data. This arrangement can make negotiating with your serverless provider challenging. 

Why? The resources at your disposal are limited. In case of system downtime, undesirable upgrades, and so on, there’s very little you can do to influence what your third-party providers are doing.

Additionally, serverless infrastructure vendors make it difficult for businesses wanting to switch to another vendor. 

Another risk of this vendor-operated environment is that the vendor may change the terms of service and pricing or even stop offering the services altogether. If your business can’t absorb that hit, it could be detrimental. 

Read any contracts thoroughly to ensure that your vendor won’t be taking your data hostage if you ever decide to switch. 

Time limitations

Serverless is not suitable for long-term tasks that require constant runtime. It may end up costing way more than what you would typically pay for reserved computing timing. 

Serverless is ideal for short-term processes such as email. But tasks such as large video file uploading may require you to call additional functions.

Complex

Learning how serverless works is a daunting task. Compared to other architectures, it has small integration units. Hence, one needs more time to organize the functions to align with your data.

Versioning and deployment only add to the confusion.  

Any business owner considering switching to serverless must be ready to face the rabbit hole undertaking of splitting their monolithic application into several microservices.

Wrap up

Serverless architecture might just be the extra piece your business missed. However, the efficacy of serverless strategy will depend on each business’s individual needs. If you’re on the fence, consult a few serverless providers and get different quotes. 

A Small Business Owner’s Guide to the Pros and Cons of Serverless Architectures was last updated September 7th, 2021 by Amanda Greenberg

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