Serverless applications: when are they useful?

The serverless application is a relatively new technique for developing software. Whereas servers used to be physically hosted by the company using the software, these days they are long gone.

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    The name serverless application is actually not so well chosen, as it still involves servers. However, they are not physically present and are only claimed when necessary.

    To find out a bit more about this technology, we asked our colleague Joey some questions.

    Joey, what exactly is a serverless application?

    Joey: Serverless means that you don't have to set up, configure and manage (monitor, upgrade, scale up) a server for your application. Therefore, a server is not constantly running, but only when the application is used. For example, the server is used when:

    • a visitor comes to the website
    • a background task is running
    • a scheduled background task is run (think of a check done every hour, for example)

    What is the advantage of a serverless application?

    Joey: Because a server is not constantly running around the application, you actually only pay for the times your application is actually used. So the benefit is mainly financial.

    Are there any drawbacks to a serverless application?

    Joey: Preparing an application to work serverless takes a bit more time than via the more traditional way. This is because you cannot currently just use all applications and programming languages to go serverless.
    In addition, the costs may be even higher in some cases, and it will still be difficult for many users to grasp exactly how this technology works.

    Is this technique already being used at SevenLab?

    Joey: At SevenLab, we use Laravel (which is a PHP framework) a lot. We have been experimenting with Laravel Vapor, which is a SaaS platform developed by the creator of the Laravel framework. Laravel Vapor simplifies setting up an application, created in Laravel, and has a simple and clear interface. It also adds various commands and other functionality to make the transition easier. Our experiment showed that Laravel Vapor is a very nice platform to work with. However, you still pay separately for the costs you incur with Amazon Web Services. These costs turned out to be higher than we expected. Because SevenLab works for many customers (and therefore manages many applications), the costs of setting this up for everyone turned out to be too high.


    So in our case, this was not worth it, but it could potentially be a godsend for others when they want less worry about their servers.

    Do you think this technology is the future or will the conventional way remain?

    Joey: I think this way is definitely the future, but the conventional way will definitely remain for a long time. It is now deeply rooted in our way of working and thinking.

    Thanks Joey, for your input! Want to stay up to date with all our software news? Then subscribe to our newsletter. You can also contact Koen.

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