What Every CIO Needs to Know about Serverless, Part 3

Mark Hinkle
Mark Hinkle
Apr 22, 2020
What Every CIO Needs to Know about Serverless, Part 3
What Every CIO Needs to Know about Serverless, Part 3

This series of blogs “What Every CIO Needs to Know about Serverless” is designed to help bring clarity and sanity to the sometimes confusing world of serverless.

In part 1 we covered why serverless matters to your digital transformation and we introduced a couple basic concepts. Part 2 broke down the difference between serverless, Functions as a Services (FaaS), and Knative.

Here, we introduce a way to compare the major FaaS and Knative managed serverless offers.

Serverless Vendors

In the last 20 years, few technologies have seen a more meteoric rise than Kubernetes. The container orchestration platform was initially released in 2014, and a 2019 survey by StackRox found that more than 86% of organizations have adopted it, representing a 51% increase over the previous six months. Part of the appeal is users can run Kubernetes in the cloud as well as self-managing it on-premises.

The explosive growth of containers and Kubernetes gave rise to innovative solutions like Kubeless and Knative that married the container workflow, the portability of Kubernetes, and the benefits of serverless.

The 2018 launch of Knative paved the way for a new set of fully-managed serverless offers coming online now.

We identify three essential types of serverless vendors:

  1. Function-based (FaaS)
  2. Container-based
  3. Serverless-native Applications (e.g. AWS Aurora)

For our initial purposes, we are focusing on the first two types.

Table 1: Comparison of FaaS and Container-based Serverless

  FaaS Container-based
Major vendors/offers
  • AWS Lambda
  • Azure Functions
  • Google Cloud Functions
  • AWS Fargate
  • Azure Container Instances
  • Google Cloud Run
  • Google Anthos
  • Red Hat OpenShift Serverless
Key concepts
  • Event Sources emit events for a particular service/application
  • Triggers represent what gets executed when an event happens
  • Events are the objects that contain the data and semantics about what happened
  • Functions are small units of code that get executed when events happen, they are a special kind of trigger
  • Serving provides the autoscaling – including scale to zero – a feature of FaaS as well as fine-grained traffic control using modern network gateways.
  • Eventing provides building blocks for consuming and producing events that adhere to the CloudEvents specification. 
Pros
  • Simple and fast to write and get started
  • AWS Lambda in particular been around a while and offers a high level of feature-richness and maturity
  • Any language
  • No changes to your code
  • Very portable
Cons
  • May not support your preferred language
  • May require rewriting parts of your app
  • Can lead to lock-in
  • A newer approach to serverless, still maturing feature set

In our next and final blog in this series, we will take a detailed look at how several of the leading FaaS and container-based managed serverless options work.

A Little About TriggerMesh

TriggerMesh believes enterprise developers will increasingly build applications as a mesh of cloud native functions and services from multiple cloud providers. We believe this architecture is the best way for agile businesses to deliver the effortless digital experiences customers expect and at the same time minimize infrastructure complexity.

To bring today’s enterprise applications into this future, the TriggerMesh cloud native integration platform ties together cloud computing and on-premises applications. We do this through an event-driven cloud service bus that connects application workflows across varied infrastructures.

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