Modern applications increasingly use Kubernetes as the “operating system of the cloud” because it abstracts the underlying cloud platform and coordinates the activities of multiple Docker containers.
In fact, Kubernetes radically simplifies the deployment and management of distributed multi-service applications. However, there is a significant learning curve and managing large his Kubernetes clusters can be challenging.
Serverless platforms offer a compelling alternative to his Kubernetes for distributed applications. Serverless platforms try to abstract all the underlying infrastructure and just provide a black box in which your application code runs. A serverless platform allows developers to focus entirely on their application code instead of the application infrastructure. The serverless platform lacks some of his Kubernetes features, but greatly reduces management and deployment overhead.
A serverless platform is perhaps a logical extension of the Platform as a Service (PaaS) cloud model. PaaS platforms like Google App Engine hide the platform’s underlying VM architecture, which includes always-running server instances and often doesn’t scale automatically.
In contrast, in a serverless environment, the infrastructure is not running all the time, but merely fulfilling temporary service requests. Not all applications are designed for serverless deployments, but applications built on modern microservices patterns often work well with serverless frameworks.
Amazon’s Lambda framework was his one of the first popular serverless services. Lambda is a Function as a Service (FaaS) offering that enables on-demand execution of functions written in several popular programming languages. All scaling is done automatically by our serverless infrastructure.
While FaaS restricts the languages and runtime environments developers can use, a new generation of “container-as-a-service” (CaaS) systems can use containerized microservices like serverless platforms.
A serverless platform reduces the administrative burden, which can reduce staff costs. And while Kubernetes and PaaS deployments typically incur hosting costs even when idle, serverless deployments are typically billed based on actual usage rather than peak usage, so hosting costs are also reduced. I can do it.
However, like many platforms that offer a higher level of abstraction, serverless platforms offer less flexibility but more simplicity. Serverless platforms work well when applications are made up of independent containers that are completely stateless and do not interact with each other.
If your application has no persistent storage and consists of short-lived microservices that don’t need to interact with each other, serverless is a great solution. However, if your application relies on long-lived services that have their own local storage, it can be difficult to achieve a completely serverless solution. Additionally, serverless platforms can impose limits on container size and supported programming languages. Also, if you run into problems with a serverless platform, you’re more dependent on the platform provider than your Kubernetes environment.
Serverless platforms are offered by all major cloud providers.
- Google Cloud Run provides container functionality as a service, and Google Cloud Functions provides functionality as a service.
- Amazon AWS Lambda is a Function-as-a-Service offering, while Amazon Fargate is a containerized solution similar to Cloud Run.
- Microsoft Azure Container Apps is a containerized serverless platform available in the Azure cloud.
- Knative is a Kubernetes-based platform that provides a serverless experience inside your Kubernetes cluster. This allows organizations to deploy a serverless experience within their private Kubernetes-based cloud, or provide an easy deployment experience for developers with access to Kubernetes clusters.
There are also various serverless platforms offered by smaller companies for more professional purposes. For example, EDJX offers a serverless “edge” platform. EDJX application code must be written in a compiled language such as Rust or C++. The result is a very small runtime footprint, which in turn improves scalability for the high frequency and volume of traffic that can occur in IoT scenarios.
Serverless platforms are not suitable for all applications, but they greatly improve scalability, developer productivity, and operational costs for migratable applications.