How Serverless Hosting Providers Help Scale Your Apps

January 8, 2021

How Serverless Hosting Providers Help Scale Your Apps

Ever since AWS Lambda was introduced in 2014, several businesses have been looking for serverless hosting providers to help them run their applications.

It’s true that serverless platforms are getting popular and for a good reason! They’ve offered developers a convenient way to run their applications without worrying about provisioning and managing servers.

If you’re unfamiliar with serverless computing, how it works, or how it could benefit your business, we’re here to help you out. In this article, we’ll give you a crash course on serverless hosting and some of the most popular providers in the market.

Let’s begin!

How Does a Serverless Architecture Work?

To fully understand what and how serverless architecture works, let’s briefly define a server. In the traditional web hosting world, a server is a physical or virtual machine that’s responsible for running your applications and storing your data.

serverless architecture

But with serverless architecture, you don’t have to worry about these things. That’s because serverless platforms allow you to run your code without having to provision or manage any physical servers.

So, how is this possible? Well, serverless platforms are built on top of existing infrastructure, and they use what’s called a “function as a service” or FaaS model.

With this model, you can write and deploy your code without having to worry about server management. The platform will automatically provision and scale the servers required to run your code.

However, the term ‘serverless’ can be a bit misleading because there are still servers that power these backend services. It’s just that all of the server administration and management are handled by a cloud provider.

The Role of Cloud Providers in Serverless Computing

Serverless services are usually offered by cloud providers, and they play a vital role in making sure that these services are up and running.

serverless vendor quote

As mentioned, serverless computing is not entirely ‘serverless’ because there are still servers that power these backend services. But instead of managing these servers yourself, the cloud provider will take care of them for you.

What are the responsibilities of a serverless provider? A serverless provider is responsible for the following:

  • Providing a FaaS platform that allows you to deploy and run your code without worrying about server administration.
  • Managing and scaling the servers required to run your code.
  • Handling all of the security patches and updates for the servers.

In other words, a serverless provider will take care of all the heavy lifting when it comes to running your application code.

A thing to remember here is that not every serverless vendor is the same. Some providers may offer container-based solutions, while others may only offer back-end-as-a-service or BaaS.

It’s important to do your research and choose a provider that offers the services that you need. For example, if you’re building mobile apps at scale, find a company providing backend services.

Startechup mobile app

Common features offered by serverless vendors:

  • Automatic scaling
  • No need to provision or manage servers
  • Pay-as-you-go pricing model
  • Supports multiple programming languages
  • Cloud storage platform for your content (including videos, music, and photos)
  • Mobile connectivity
  • User-based security
  • Simplified testing and troubleshooting process
  • App testing (physical or virtual)

Now that we’ve covered the basics of serverless architecture, let’s learn the advantages and risks associated with this hosting solution!

The 5 Benefits of Using Serverless Functions

Partnering with serverless providers can offer you several advantages, such as:

1. Reduced Costs

One of the biggest advantages of going serverless is that it follows a ‘pay-as-you-go’ pricing model. This means that you only have to pay for the resources that you use, and there are no upfront costs.

Unlike traditional web hosting, you’re not paying for idle capacity. This can help you save a lot of money, especially if your applications don’t have consistent traffic.

2. Increased Efficiency

Another benefit of using a serverless model is that it can help increase your team’s efficiency. Since you don’t have to worry about provisioning, managing, or scaling servers, you can focus on building and running your applications.

This can free up a lot of time for your IT team, and they can use that time to work on other things that can help improve your business.

IT team meeting

3. Enhanced Scalability

Serverless platforms are also highly scalable, and they can automatically scale your applications up or down based on traffic demand. This means that you don’t have to worry about manually scaling your servers, and you can focus on running your business.

4. Improved Security

When it comes to security, serverless platforms can offer you several advantages. First of all, you don’t have to worry about patching your servers since that’s all handled by the cloud provider.

In addition, most providers offer a wide range of security features, such as firewalls, intrusion detection, and more. This can help you secure your applications and data without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure.

5. Faster Time to Market

If you’re on a time crunch and need to get your application to market quickly, then a serverless platform can help you out. That’s because you don’t have to spend time provisioning or managing servers. You can focus on building and running your application so that you can get it to market as soon as possible.

3 Risks You Want to Avoid When Looking for a Cloud Provider

Of course, no solution is perfect, and there are some risks that you need to be aware of when looking for a cloud provider. Here are some of the risks that you want to avoid:

1. Vendor Lock-In

One of the biggest risks of using a serverless platform is vendor lock-in. This means that you could be tied to a specific provider and find it difficult to switch to another one in the future.

Make sure to do your research and choose a provider that offers an easy way to migrate your applications to another platform.

choose a provider quote

2. Lack of Control

Another risk of using a serverless platform is that you could lose some control over your applications. This is because the cloud provider will be responsible for managing the infrastructure and servers.

Make sure to choose a provider with a good degree of control and visibility over your applications.

3. Complicated Testing and Debugging

When it comes to testing and debugging your applications, a serverless platform can make things more complicated. That’s because you’ll need to test and debug your code in the context of the cloud provider’s infrastructure.

Make sure to choose a provider that offers good testing and debugging tools.

In a nutshell, these are some of the advantages and risks that you need to be aware of when getting serverless solutions. Choose a provider that offers the right mix of features and services that meets your needs.

If you’re having trouble deciding which provider to choose, then check out our guide to the best serverless providers.

The 8 Best Serverless Computing Providers

Serverless computing providers are constantly evolving, and new ones are popping up all the time.

As a result, it’s getting competitive in the server space. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s challenging to find a good provider; it just means that there are a lot of choices out there. And that can be overwhelming for some people.

This guide will help you choose the best serverless computing provider for your needs:

AWS Lambda website

1. AWS Lambda

Released in 2014, AWS Lambda is the best-known serverless platform in the industry. It’s a compute service that runs code responding to events and automatically manages the underlying compute resources.

AWS Lambda is our top recommended provider for many different types of applications. It’s especially well-suited for event-driven applications, such as those that process streaming data or run real-time analytics.

With more experience than its competitors, AWS Lambda is a reliable platform for developing serverless applications. It continues to set the standard in many features and aspects of serverless technology.

Its integration with other AWS services makes it an obvious choice for those already living in Amazon’s ecosystem. However, it’s difficult to accurately predict how much you’ll spend on using the service.

Pricing

With AWS Lambda, you can take advantage of Compute Savings Plans. This is a pricing model that gives lower prices on Amazon EC2, AWS Fargate, and AWS Lambda usage when you commit to a consistent amount of usage (measured in $/hour) for either 1 or 3 years.

To get a quotation or find out more about their pricing, send a request here. They also have a free pricing calculator that you can use!

Microsoft Azure Functions website

2. Microsoft Azure Functions

When placed next to AWS Lambda, Microsoft Azure Functions have similarities in terms of language support, ease of use, and pricing. In fact, Microsoft Azure Functions is often compared to AWS Lambda because they are both event-driven and serverless.

Microsoft Azure Functions is a part of the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. It offers what you expect in a serverless computing service. They have a wide range of integrations and triggers that will allow your code to respond to any event.

What we find most interesting is their various plans for serverless functions that you can select based on your specific needs. This is good for resource allocation and cost optimization.

Pricing

With Azure Functions, you only pay for used memory instead of allocated memory and resources used when executing multiple functions in the same execution instance.

They also have multiple tiered pricing models:

  • Consumption plan: the classic serverless offering with an event-driven, automatic scaling execution with a pay-for-use model
  • Premium plan: allows you to avoid cold starts by adding additional reserved capacity and resource allocation for a higher price.
  • Dedicated plan: the functions prevent your website from spinning down, so you’ll never experience a cold start.

If you want to try it for free or request a quote, you can reach them here.

Google Cloud website

3. Google Cloud Functions

Google Cloud Functions is a serverless computing platform that allows you to run code in response to events. It’s a part of the Google Cloud Platform and was launched in 2016.

Google Cloud Functions is event-driven and scalable. It’s designed to build and connect event-driven services with single-purpose code, so you don’t have to waste time provisioning or managing servers.

We appreciate this platform because it allows development teams to focus on their applications’ code rather than having to worry about the difficult parts of creating, managing, and deploying their apps. Plus, it works well with Google’s Cloud Trace and Cloud Debugger tools.

So, if you’re already using other Google services, such as App Engine or Compute Engine, then this could be a good option for you.

Pricing

Google Cloud Functions pricing is based on the number of invocations (requests) and the amount of memory used per function invocation. They provide a perpetual free tier for compute-time resources, which includes an allocation of both GB-seconds and GHz-seconds.

The free tier also comes with 400,000 GB-seconds of compute time, 200,000 GHz-seconds, and 5GB per month of outgoing Internet traffic.

A pro version starts from $0.40/million invocations. Learn more here.

IBM Cloud Functions website

4. IBM Cloud Functions

Next to Google Cloud, you can also get serverless capabilities that are meant to offer beyond just function execution from IBM Cloud Functions.

IBM Cloud Functions is a serverless platform that allows you to write code that responds to events and runs in the cloud. It can respond to requests by executing certain application functions and allows users to set up response actions in accordance with API requests.

The platform is built on Apache OpenWhisk and can be used with any programming language. As a result, it has a lot of potential integrations.

Pricing

IBM Cloud Functions offers a pay-as-you-go model, with a basic cloud functions rate of $0.000017 per second of execution, per GB of memory allocated.

If you want to see a sample of monthly costs or use their pricing calculator, you can check it out here.

Cloudfare Workers website

5. Cloudflare Workers

Cloudflare Workers is a serverless platform that runs on Cloudflare with edge computing. It provides a way for developers to build web applications and deploy serverless code to data centers located in 90 countries and more than 200 cities.

Unlike other serverless offerings, Cloudflare Workers deliver faster performance and avoid common issues by using Chrome V8 directly instead of a traditional JavaScript runtime environment like Node.js. As a result, there’s lower latency and no need to worry about memory leaks.

What we’re concerned about is the limited types of library functions you can use because the Node.js standard library isn’t available on the platform. However, if you are working primarily in JavaScript or TypeScript and already have experience with Progressive Web App fundamentals, this is an ideal serverless strategy for you!

Pricing

Cloudflare Workers has three plans: Free, Bundled, and Unbound. Here’s a brief of these plans:

  • The free plan gives you 100,000 requests per day and 10ms CPU time/invocation.
  • Bundled plans include a set amount of requests per month with a limit of 50 ms CPU time/invocation.
  • The unbound plan does not have a limit to execution duration, but you will be charged for both the number of requests and the amount of time spent executing.

Learn more about these plans in-depth on their pricing page here.

Oracle Cloud Functions website

6. Oracle Cloud Functions

Among the many serverless vendors out there, Oracle Functions offers container-based solutions that are compatible with any programming language.

With Oracle Functions, you can create and deploy serverless functions without worrying about infrastructure management. It’s based on the open-source Fn Project and can be used with any programming language that can run inside a Docker container.

Due to the fact that users will be able to develop functions that are compatible with Oracle Functions service as well as other deployments based on the Fn project, there is a lower risk of lock-in.

As such, we recommend subscribing to Oracle Functions if you are looking for container-based solutions for serverless deployment.

Pricing

Oracle Functions offers a Pro plan that starts from US$0.00001417 for over 400,000 every month. To get a better understanding of the pricing, you can check their list of services here.

Red Hat website

7. Red Hat

Red Hat is a choice for organizations that want to operate their FaaS environments using open-source serverless platforms. OpenShift Serverless is the serverless platform used by Red Hat, and it was created by IBM.

As we’ve briefly mentioned before, OpenShift is an event-driven computing platform that allows developers to execute code in response to events. These events can be triggered by different sources, such as an HTTP request, a message on a message queue, or changes to a NoSQL database.

OpenShift is available as a managed service on IBM Cloud and as an open-source project that can be deployed on-premises or in a private cloud.

Pricing

As a provider that focuses on enterprise users, Red Hat doesn’t have a pricing page for its serverless solution. However, you can get in touch with their sales team to get a quote for their services.

Check their cloud services here.

Knative website

8. Knative

Last but not least, this list would not be complete without Knative. This is an open-source framework used by many vendors, such as Google Cloud, to build, deploy, and operate serverless workloads.

With Knative, you can develop and deploy serverless applications without worrying about the underlying infrastructure. All you need to do is write your code, and Knative will take care of the rest.

Pricing

Knative is a free and open-source framework, which means that you don’t have to pay anything to use it. However, if you want to use it with a specific vendor, such as Google Cloud, you will need to pay for the services that you use.

When it comes to finding the best serverless computing platform for your needs, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. It all depends on your specific requirements.

If you’re just getting started with developing a serverless application, we recommend that you try out one of the many free and open-source solutions. However, if you need more robust features and support, you may want to consider a paid solution.

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Develop Your Apps with Us!

If you “go serverless,” it doesn’t mean you can’t create amazing applications—you just don’t have to spend time maintaining the infrastructure. With serverless, you write code and deploy functions like normal; everything else is taken care of for you.

If you think that serverless computing is the way to go for your web applications, you can take a chance on the serverless vendors we recommended above. But, when it comes to developing your own web projects, we are the company you can reach!

StarTechUP is a software development company that specializes in the latest web technologies. We have a team of experienced developers who can turn your ideas into reality!

If you have a project that you want to get started on, don’t hesitate to contact us! We would be more than happy to discuss a serverless version of your applications!

About the author: Andrea Jacinto - Content Writer

A content writer with a strong SEO background, Andrea has been working with digital marketers from different fields to create optimized articles which are informative, digestible, and fun to read. Now, she's writing for StarTechUP to deliver the latest developments in tech to readers around the world. View on Linkedin

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