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Top 5 Serverless Platforms in 2022!

Alekh Verma | February 7, 2023
serverless platforms

Serverless computing has gained a lot of popularity over the last few years- and deservedly so. It has moved the user away from traditional methods. It allows developers to focus on writing the code and not care about the infrastructure. It has become easier and quicker to deploy scalable and powerful applications serverless. It comes with a lot of benefits like reduced cost and easier operational management. However, there can be some drawbacks as well, like vendor control, multitenancy problems, vendor lock-in, etc.   

To read more: Serverless Computing and its benefits and Limitations.

Going forward we’re going to discuss the 5 best serverless frameworks in 2022 by their features, advantages, disadvantages, pricing, and use case. Choosing the correct serverless platform plays an important role in your project’s success early on. One must compare all the best options available to choose a platform that best fits the product’s needs, size, scaling ambition, and team size.  

What is a Serverless Platform?  

A serverless platform takes care of software functionality and communication by using a combination of computing containers. The available computational power fluctuates based on user activity – if the app is actively operating, it utilizes more containers, and if it isn't, it uses less. Some of the main features of a serverless platform are-  

  • Abstraction-  

A serverless platform lets you focus entirely on the primary user-side functionality. The user isn’t aware of anything about the server on which their program is running, and a third-party vendor handles all the details about the operating systems and updates.    

  • Flexibility-  

Serverless solutions enable business owners to control the number of computing resources that are consumed. A user does not have to overpay for excessive server space in case of small workloads. Furthermore, if a user needs an increase in computing power, the platform is readily available with the resources.  

  • Cost-Efficiency-  

A user does not have to pay when their application isn’t active which directly leads to cost reduction.  

Adopting a serverless approach is one of the best ways to increase product scalability and optimize the costs of backend operations. However, one must choose the correct vendor that takes full responsibility for server performance and gives you full power to monitor your serverless application. Here’s the list of our top 5 serverless platforms to help you make a well-informed decision-  

1. AWS Lambda 

AWS Lambda is a serverless computing service by AWS that monitors lambda functions. It allows users to write codes and execute them unfailingly, without having to worry about the infrastructure or managing the servers. The developers get the authority to use Amazon CloudWatch to report metrics after executing the functions. AWS Lambda is the most suitable option when it comes to building applications using Python, Java, Node.js, C#, Go, and Ruby.  

Features

  • Using AWS Lambda you easily compute the data as it enters or moves through the cloud by adding custom logic to AWS resources such as Amazon DynamoDB tables and Amazon S3 buckets. 
  • AWS Lambda allows you to customize your backend services as per your business needs. For example, you can use the Lambda API to trigger new backend application services on-demand or use Amazon API Gateway to build custom API endpoints. 
  • One does not need to learn any new languages, frameworks, or tools to use AWS Lambda. 
  • AWS Lambda functions as a completely automated administration. 
  • It has a built-in fault-tolerance system. It protects your code from data center facility or individual machine failures by maintaining compute capacity across multiple Availability Zones (AZs) in each AWS region.  

Pricing: 

  • Free Version: It supports 1 million requests in 400,000 seconds per month. 
  • Premium version: It is priced on the basis of per-request($0.20 for 1 million requests) and per-second(0.000016667 for 1 GB per second).  

Advantages 

  • It allows you to pay for what you use. It offers a flexible pricing strategy that depends entirely on your app’s performance, and not on the duration of your subscription. 
  • It has one of the most versatile development environments that manage infrastructure on your behalf. It has tools for AI, databases, IoT, cloud, and blockchain development.  
  • It offers a variety of servers for easy code deployment and authorization. You can manage a variety of services from a single command line or use scripts for development automation by using AWS Command Line Interface. You can also use AWS custom editor, Visual Studio IDE, or Eclipse IDE. 
  • It is integrated with Amazon API Gateway.  

Disadvantages: 

  • Lambda is capable of performing complex functions which sometimes makes developers lose the sense of maintaining the readability of their code. Developers often get caught up in what the platform can perform which affects their code as they end up with a big monolith function.
  • The computational limitations can be a hindrance. It allows the ephemeral disc space to be only up to 513 MB and the default deployment package can’t be bigger than 250 MB unzipped or 50 MB zipped.  

Use Cases: 

A wide variety of software development tools use and support AWS Lambda. 

  • Asana- Lambda-based triggers are supported by this project management software. Asana enables developers to integrate all of their Lambda code into its task management, allowing them to better organize their operations.
  • CircleCI- AWS Lambda can be linked with this continuous development tool. AWS Lambda allows developers to deploy code immediately after it is written.  

2. Google Cloud Functions+ Firebase  

Google Cloud Functions+ is a serverless framework for event-driven development that allows you to automatically run backend code to respond to events triggered by HTTPS requests and firebase features. It stores your TypeScript and JavaScript code in Google’s cloud and it runs in a managed environment. With cloud functions with firebase, there is no need for the user to manage or scale their servers.  

Features:  

  • It integrates the Firebase platform. Events created by various Firebase and Google Cloud capabilities, from firebase authentication triggers to cloud storage triggers, can be handled by the functions you write. 
  • Using the Admin SDK coupled with cloud functions you can integrate across Firebase features and by writing your webhooks you can integrate with third-party services. Cloud Functions reduces boilerplate code and makes it easy to integrate Firebase and Google Cloud into your function.
  • With a single command from the command line, you can deploy your TypeScript or JavaScript code to our servers. Using this data Firebase studies the usage pattern of your users and automatically scales up computing resources to match it. With Firebase you never have to worry about server configurations, credentials, provisioning new servers, or decommissioning old servers. 
  • It allows you to keep your logic private and secure. To avoid any kind of tinkering on the client-side, a lot of developers opt to control application logic on the server. Google cloud function is completely private and insulated from the client.  

Pricing:  

  • The first two million requests can be processed for free. 
  • It costs $0.40 to process each next million requests.  

Advantages:  

  • If compared with its competition in the market, Google Cloud Functions costs less than AWS and Microsoft Azure. If you’ve been using the service for a long time then you can get special discounts or if you’re a start-up then there are special price-tiers for you. Also, you can avail free services like Filestore and Firebase. 
  • Google Firebase notifies the developer immediately whenever their data gets updated.  

Disadvantages:  

  • In recent times, Google Cloud has proven to be unreliable as they’re experiencing a lot of performance issues and power outages.  

Use Cases  

  • Lucille Games- used services of Compute Engine, Cloud Spanner, and Google Cloud Functions to build original games which helped them minimize delays, incorporate millions of daily users, and reduce their server cost by 30%. 
  • Smart Parking- used Google Cloud Functions to build an application from scratch in just 4 months. This innovative IoT parking startup didn’t switch to a serverless platform but created a new product altogether from scratch on the cloud.  

3. Microsoft Azure  

Made up of a combination of over 100 serverless tools, Azure aids in software development, deployment, testing, and administration. Instead of using local resources, the platform uses edge and cloud computing. The thing that sets Microsoft Azure apart from its competitive platforms is its affinity toward DevOps. Azure’s tools are focused on enabling continuous deployment, testing, and integration.  

Features:  

  • With Microsoft Azure, you can trust your cloud. Azure’s security is backed by proactive compliance and a team of experts that’s trusted by several startups, governments, and enterprises. 
  • Operate hybrid seamlessly with Microsoft Azure. Integrate and manage your environments using hybrid cloud-specific services. 
  • When it comes to Azure there are no limitations to how you want to build your applications or where you want to deploy them as it is open source and supports all frameworks and languages. 
  • Microsoft is ever-evolving and always innovative which supports your development today and your visions for your product’s future.  

Pricing:  

  • The price of a Microsoft Azure subscription depends on a lot of factors like how much computing power your application needs, the size of your team, what tools you will use, and the tech stack of the project. Based on all of these factors Azure has created a price calculator that can be used by the customer to get an estimate of pricing.  

Advantages:  

  • With Microsoft Azure, you do not have to worry about issues like cyber security as the platform offers specialized tools for data safeguard, risk prevention, network safety, centralized visibility, and identity management. 
  • Microsoft Azure provides scalability options where you can plan your project’s investment by checking what the updated version is going to cost you.  

Disadvantages:  

  • Although Azure allows a lot more customization options than its competitors it requires the product owners/user to have server management knowledge and understand its specifics. 
  • Azure can also be comparatively slow in processing requests which leads to low-performance speed.  

Use Cases:  

  • Azure is used by HP to power its customer support. The company handles more than 600 million contacts every year. It’s quite a challenging task to organize call data, customer contacts, and support information and they end up taking up a lot of server space. However, HP developed a conversational agent with AI serverless tools and Microsoft Azure Cloud to solve this problem. 
  • To improve its personalization services Asos moved to Microsoft Azure in 2016. Azure helped the company implement new customer experience models where Asos wanted to give a quick response to its customers and execute a lot of new features in a short span.  

4. Alibaba Functions  

Founded in 2019, Alibaba cloud is a leading force in artificial intelligence and cloud computing. Thousands of businesses, companies, and government agencies in over 200 nations and regions rely on Alibaba function’s services. Businesses just pay for what they use, with no fees for periods when they are not active. Alibaba Cloud has 84 zones strategically deployed across 27 global locations, delivering dependable computing support to billions of clients. Alibaba Functions is a serverless platform for code creation and updates that is event-driven. The service enables real-time scaling by allowing users to increase their processing power. 

Features:  

  • Alibaba functions allow you to focus on writing core code and developing business logic instead of having to care about buying servers, installing load balancers and resource scalability, and other O&M tasks. This streamlines service development and iteration by simplifying service construction. 
  • To meet traffic peaks, Alibaba functions automatically scale and mobilize computing resources in milliseconds. It has a reserved instance feature that helps you avoid latency glitches generated by cold start, and will improve speed and make migrating online applications to Function Compute easier.
  • To save cost Alibaba Functions provides a variety of scenarios and flexible billing methods. It has a pay-as-you-go method that allows you to pay only for the instances that are used. It has a subscription method where you buy computing powers according to your estimated business load. 
  • The clusters that are used for deploying Function Compute are distributed and located in multiple zones. In case of power failure, any natural disaster, or any other unforeseen circumstances, the Function Compute automatically switches to another zone in the same region to ensure the smooth running of functions and high service availability.  

Pricing:  

  • It costs $19/month for a Linux-based instance, with 1 CPU and 2 GB memory.  

Advantages:  

  • Alibaba Functions works on a straightforward trigger mechanism. To write a function, all a developer has to do is write a trigger in Compute API or SDK. 
  • It gives you access to Chinese nods so if you’re a business that has connections in China and Asia then Alibaba Functions is the best choice for you. 
  • It works with popular development languages like Java, Node.js, PHP, and Python. 

Disadvantages:  

  • One major drawback is that its subscription plans are a little less flexible and cost more than its competitors like AWS.  
  • It provides a limited number of APIs as compared to its more renowned competitors like Microsoft Azure or AWS. 
  • Alibaba does not have an English-speaking community as it is heavily based in China. Thus, in comparison to its western-based competitors, it’s difficult to find educational forums and resources in English on Alibaba.  

Use Cases:  

  • Ford- chose Alibaba Cloud and Functions Compute to actively promote its products on the Chinese market. 
  • Air Asia- used Alibaba to secure its ticket-booking website and app. To boost low-latency performance and Round Trip Time, they deployed Alibaba Functions. They also employed Alibaba's security resources to detect and prevent unauthorized entry attempts. 

5. IBM Bluemix  

Bluemix is an IBM open cloud platform that gives mobile and web developers access to IBM software and software from its business partners for security, integration, and transaction processing. The majority of the complexity associated with hosting and operating cloud-based apps is abstracted and hidden by Bluemix. As an application developer, you can concentrate on designing your app rather than worrying about the infrastructure needed to host it. There are pre-built services provided by Bluemix that you can use for mobile applications. You can easily upload your application on Bluemix for web applications and then specify the number of instances you want running.  

Bluemix can be used quickly to build applications in popular programming languages. Mobile apps can be developed with JavaScript in HTML and iOS Android. Programming languages like PHP, Java, and Ruby can be used to build web applications.  

Features:  

  • Provides a set of services that help you quickly create and develop web and mobile apps.
  • For you to offer app changes regularly, you'll need a lot of processing power, and that is where Bluemix shines. 
  • Provides programming paradigms and services that are right for the job. 
  • Bluemix’s service and application manageability are unparalleled. 
  • Provides auto-scaling that can be used to automatically enhance or reduce platform capacity, simply by adding a new service or application instance.  

Pricing:  

  • IBM's serverless platform, like other serverless systems, is based on a pay-per-use model. For each executed second, the platform costs $0.000017.  

Advantages:  

  • IBM Bluemix is quite flexible as you can adjust one component at a time and track its performance, with no danger of impacting the platform's settings.
  • It provides control via the command line as while Bluemix offers a graphical user interface, many customers prefer to manage their app's performance via the command line. 
  • Bluemix’s Web IDE solution was released in 2016. It is a personalized platform for writing code, tracking bugs, reporting issues, and keeping track of your activities. Before IDE, the command line was the only way for users to make changes to their apps.  

Disadvantages:  

  • Bluemix has quite a complicated interface as using a command line to manage an app necessitates long-term software development experience. Their GUI editor isn't particularly user-friendly, and you'll still have to write a lot of code by hand. 
  • People using Bluemix face a lot of technical limitations and product bugs because it is a new platform, and its functionality is still in flux. People also face technical limitations such as its maximal code size being 48 MB, maximum execution time of 5 minutes, and only 5,000 triggers per minute is allowed.  

Use Cases:  

  • American Airlines- To increase the performance of their client-side applications, the airline firm switched to a serverless platform. The products were also in the process of migrating to a microservice design, which necessitated a secure deployment environment.
  • Ubank- the Company wanted to collaborate with IBM Watson to develop AI-based services, but they also needed adaptable servers to store their data. For the reason of working in the same infrastructure, the logical solution was to employ an IBM-owned platform. According to the corporation, this choice allowed them to release new items more quickly.  

Choosing the correct Serverless platform is vital to avoid issues such as vendor lock-in. Moreover, if you choose the wrong platform and then need to switch suppliers, you'll have to put in a lot of effort, such as updating operational tools like deployment, monitoring, and so on, as well as rewriting codes to accommodate a different FaaS interface. 

We hope our list of features, pricing, advantages, disadvantages, and use cases of the most popular serverless platforms has made it easier for you to understand which platform best suits your needs. 

Alekh Verma

CEO and Founder at eSearch Logix Technologies!

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