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FaaS Vs. Serverless: Resolving the Dilemma

  |  May 1, 2023
FaaS Vs. Serverless: Resolving the Dilemma

In the vast ever-changing world of technology, Serverless and Faas are the two new categories of cloud computing services. Both FaaS and Serverless have helped organizations in saving money, refocusing developers’ time, relegating infrastructure management, and harnessing cloud technology. However, while both are treated as the same, there is a slight difference. Through this post, we will shed light on the similarities and differences between FaaS vs. Serverless architecture to help you decide which is better for your organization. 

Here’s a brief on Serverless

Serverless, if taken literally, means a setup without any servers. This is not logistically possible. Serverless architecture uses offsite servers to handle computing tasks, like cloud services, that are a part of big data warehouses around the world.

Serverless can work on various technologies. Depending on the context, it could be serverless architecture, serverless coding, or serverless computing. Here we would be talking about serverless computing

In the “Non-Serverless” environment all flows, controls, and security are managed by the central server application whereas in the “Serverless” environment there is no central source to balance these activities. Instead of being guided by a central application, a serverless environment focuses on individual units. Each component has a more architecturally-aware role. 

Here’s a Brief of FaaS (Function as a Service)

FaaS is a comparatively newer concept. Here, the server-side logic is the app developer’s responsibility.  The logic runs in stateless compute containers which are triggered by an event and managed by a third-party user. The most popular examples being AWS Lambda, Google Cloud Functions, Microsoft Azure Functions, and open-source options from Oracle and IBM.

The platform charges only when you use it. It lets developers focus on design, running, and management of application functionalities without worrying about the backend infrastructure. This one feature makes it a popular choice for app developers as FaaS lets them focus on the end product.

In addition to this, developers do not need to code for any specific framework or library as the third party vendor can easily do that. When deploying FaaS, the frontend code is uploaded to the service and providers take care of the complexities of the backend. 

FaaS vs. Serverless: Pros and Cons 

Now, let us talk about the pros and cons of FaaS vs Serverless.

Serverless Pros

  • There is no need for server configuration when an application is being deployed. 
  • These systems can be easily scaled. It can always offer more flexibility if an application needs to expand or contract.
  • It costs less than a traditional server-based hosting method because of the flexibility of the platform management behind the scenes.
  • Application Performance Management tools, like Stackify Retrace, are compatible with serverless environments, such as AWS Lambda, to continuously improve application performance.  

Serverless Cons

  • The biggest disadvantage of using serverless computing is no control over the server. Some providers do not allow access to the server or server specifications to modify in the future.  
  • This is an expensive alternative depending on the type and number of calls made. The API pricing can be high if using the API gateway extensively. 

FaaS Pros

  • Faas is efficient. The developer does not need to write an entire application to accomplish a small task. 
  • It is much cheaper compared to serverless solutions as small segments of codes are executed only when they are triggered. You pay only for what you use. 
  • When there is an increase in the demand in the market, it is easier to build and replicate a single function, instead of struggling with replication of an entire application. 
  • Scaling single functions is easier than putting effort into the entire app.

FaaS Cons

  • FaaS need to be small and complete independent tasks. 
  • Managing a lot of functions is difficult. 

Resolving the Dilemma: FaaS vs. Serverless

Which one would best fit your organization? Deciding FaaS vs Serverless isn’t apples-to-apples. There could be a possibility your IT consulting team implements a FaaS solution without serverless being in the picture. 

You can narrow down the solution by replacing part or the entire app with a FaaS solution that would run within an event-driven HTTP context. This would add agility to your work and ease the deployment process. One can choose FaaS advantages in specific use cases and test environments without affecting the entire system. On the flip side, the computing cost is increased as you scale up your FaaS for larger tasks like production. 

Serverless computing has a wider range of functionalities compared to smaller pay-per-use FaaS alternatives because it encompasses a variety of technologies. Cost-wise serverless may start low but customizations may become costlier. 

The flexibility of FaaS is a tradeoff for the more complicated Serverless solution with more components, perhaps at a larger scale.  One can give up some of the control, but would still need to monitor that dozen of moving pieces. 

The cost and flexibility might be worth the complexities – but understanding that FaaS and serverless are very different is Step 1 when choosing between FaaS vs Serverless for your business solution. 

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