Server vs. Serverless: Benefits and Downsides Posted in Platforms Vitaly Makhov November 25, 2021 Server vs. Serverless: Which Is the Best Option? Even though serverless computing does still involve servers, the user is free of managing and monitoring them. You can delegate this task to a cloud provider and focus on other important tasks. This is one of the key reasons for the rapid popularity growth of serverless computing. According to 2020 research by O’Reilly, 40% of respondents claim that their company has fully adopted serverless architecture. Half of these respondents say that the implementation was extremely successful. So, what’s so great about serverless computing, and why are some businesses still hesitant to make the change? In this article, we’ll compare server vs. serverless, discuss the pros and cons of serverless architecture and server computing, and determine when it’s most suitable to use one or the other. What is a Server? Server computing continues to remain the most reliable option in the minds of business owners. Many people prefer the traditional method, especially regarding security and data protection, as it’s proven to be bulletproof. However, the increasing adoption rates of serverless computing indicate that server computing has its downsides. Let’s explore the benefits and drawbacks of server computing and identify when the traditional option would be favorable. Benefits and Disadvantages of Server Computing Benefits of Server Computing Full Access. Managed and maintained within the company by the in-house IT team, on-premise servers allow unlimited access. In other words, your IT department can install or alter any software, quickly fix issues, and have absolute control over backups. Security. As all of your critical data is safely stored on the premises and no third-party service has access to it, the server computing model is known for high security. When debating server versus serverless, many people bring up this issue, and for a good reason. Data protection is an important part of IT activities, as breaches and hacker attacks are becoming more frequent and severe. No dependency on internet connection. On-premise servers allow IT staff to access valuable data at any time, even when the internet connection is poor or unstable. Even in 2021, there are a lot of regions with disruptive internet service where people cannot safely rely on a stable connection at all times. Drawbacks of Server Computing Cost. High cost is probably the largest disadvantage of on-premise servers. First of all, the installation and upkeep of hardware and infrastructure, as well as cooling and power consumption, require significant investment. Secondly, you will need to hire an in-house IT staff to maintain and control the servers and ensure they properly function. When to Use Server Computing? Server computing is a valid option for companies that cannot entirely rely on a stable internet connection. Businesses with a well-skilled IT department ready to maintain servers, upgrade hardware, and solve issues themselves can also benefit from the on-premise server architecture. What is Serverless Computing? Despite the name, serverless does not mean the absence of servers. Serverless architecture refers to delegating server management and maintenance to a third-party cloud provider. Companies can focus on developing products and writing code while the cloud vendor takes care of the server infrastructure. Let’s investigate the reasons behind the rising adoption of serverless computing and look at its drawbacks. Benefits and Disadvantages of Serverless Computing Benefits of Serverless Computing Cost. Serverless computing costs are not fixed and fluctuate depending on the needs of your company. As a result, you pay only for what you use and save a good portion of your budget. There is also no need to spend money on expensive hardware, paying high electricity bills, and keeping an IT team on staff to take care of the servers. Scalability. Unlike traditional server computing, the majority of serverless providers offer their services on-demand. When you start out, and your application only requires minimal space and control, the cloud provider will provide a low-maintenance tier. However, as you grow and expand and require more power to handle thousands of users, the infrastructure will immediately match the demand. Global data access. Your employees will be able to access files from anywhere and at any time. Since your cloud provider manages the servers, they are accessible from any device. This option is ideal for companies with remote workers and freelancers who can access essential data from any place in the world. Drawbacks of Serverless Computing Lack of control and visibility. Serverless is about delegating server maintenance, which subsequently gives away some control. This is why it is crucial to vet the companies and partner with a reliable and experienced cloud provider. You will likely lose some transparency either way, but you do not have to worry about data safety with a trustworthy partner. When to Use Serverless Computing? One of the biggest benefits of serverless computing is its scalability. If you’re expecting growth and require an environment that will meet the demand and adapt to your needs, serverless is the right path. Server vs. Serverless: Side-by-side Comparison In this section, we will closely compare server vs. serverless to find out which option is the best for your case. Server vs. Serverless Server computing Serverless computing Security: It’s a tie Very secure option. Servers are stored on-site and are not accessible by non-authorized personnel. However, building security breaches can lead to data exposure and losses. Servers are controlled by cloud vendors, making the data more susceptible to potential data breaches. However, data encryption and other security measures help keep data safe. Cost: Serverless wins Costs for on-premise servers are high as they include hardware installation and maintenance, expensive electricity bills, cooling tools, extra office space, additional human resources, etc. Serverless architecture cuts the costs by 70% to 90% as you do not have to pay for extra services you do not require. Besides, no equipment, hardware, and HR costs add up to tremendous cost savings for you. Control: Server wins Having physical servers on the premises and managing all the operations in-house helps companies to preserve full control and have great visibility over processes. Going serverless implies handing over the control to a cloud provider, thus losing some supervision over the operations. Support: Serverless wins Handling server-related issues in-house, you will have to strongly rely on your IT team. If they cannot solve a certain problem, you will lose access to your data for a long period of time, which will disrupt the business. The cloud provider’s responsibility is to handle the operations, ensure that everything works smoothly, and fix problems. They also have more experience solving such problems and will mostly figure it out in no time. Scalability: Serverless wins Resource scaling on-premise is expensive, slow, and difficult to execute. The time and money it takes to purchase, install, and set up the new equipment puts server computing at a disadvantage. Serverless computing is known for offering scalable solutions and providing on-demand resources. You can scale up and down almost instantly when something changes. Accessibility: Server wins As servers are on-site with you, you do not need an internet connection to access data. This is a great advantage for companies that reside in locations with unstable internet. If you lose internet connection, you and your employees will not have any access to the data, which can damage the business. Conclusion Serverless computing is a growing trend and will likely be adopted more in the future. If you think your company fits the description and requires a shift to serverless, talk to a cloud provider to learn about your options and draw a software development plan with the serverless architecture in mind. However, if you do not have high costs of maintenance and suffer from an unstable internet connection, sticking with server computing might be wise. FAQs Is serverless really better? In the serverless vs. server comparison, there is no clear winner. Serverless computing is more affordable, scalable, and time-efficient, as you can focus on coding instead of server maintenance. However, server computing gives you more control and ensures unlimited access to your data, even with no internet connection. Is serverless cheaper than traditional servers? Serverless is more affordable as most cloud providers offer the on-demand feature. You only pay for what you have actually use without spending money on unutilized products and functions. Is serverless slower? No, serverless is not slower. Prominent cloud providers ensure high speed and great performance and offer global access to your data at any time.