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It’s natural to want the best of both, or perhaps even several worlds if at all possible. It’s like being able to walk into your favorite ice cream shop and order different scoops of different flavors, and not being told you can only have one or the other. Maybe you want dark chocolate fudge, lemon custard, and raspberry cheesecake swirl. And why not? Today, businesses are trying to do something similar in their computing by onboarding multiple cloud services from various different providers. Each cloud service provides different benefits and features, and organizations don’t want to have to choose between them. They want some of each. That’s why it’s called “multicloud computing,” which is a subcategory of hybrid cloud computing. This route is becoming more popular with a wide variety of businesses, as a survey by Gartner suggests that 81 percent of respondents are already using two more cloud service providers to get their needs taken care of. Yet, working in the multicloud universe with serverless architecture does leave some developers, while largely positive, dealing with restrictions upon applications, which requires some deeper thinking about the subject.
What is Multicloud Computing?
In basic terms, an organization that uses more than one cloud service, offered by different cloud vendors, is using a multicloud computing system. The thing is, there is generally no orchestration or integration between the two cloud services. For some organizations, this might mean using two or three public cloud options and a couple of separate, private cloud ecosystems, yet none of them would mix with each other, unlike hybrid cloud setups. In the case of hybrid cloud environments, efforts are made to connect public and private cloud infrastructures.
What is Serverless Computing?
While multicloud is the ecosystem in which the applications function, serverless computing is the model of execution within that environment. For example, the chosen cloud service (Google Cloud, Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS)) allocates resources to dynamically execute a line of code, usually out of a stateless container. These are usually event-triggered requests such as queuing services, HTTP requests, monitoring alerts, database events, file uploads, scheduled events, and so on. The cloud provider receives the execution code as a function, which is why it’s often called “Functions as a Service” (FaaS). To break it down, serverless does the following automatically:
- Rallies cloud computing resources to run application code to respond to a specific event, on-demand.
- Scales computing resources up or down depending on how much demand is incoming.
- Scales back to zero if the app isn’t running.
The main draw for developers using serverless computing is that it enables them to focus more on business logic code creation while spending less energy and time on the bare metal background operations determining how code gets implemented. This should give developers more leeway to come up with customer-facing solutions that solve real-world problems while not having to worry so much about back-end issues.
Can Multicloud and Serverless Get Along Together?
While serverless abstraction should give power to developers to focus more heavily on business logic applications, multi-cloud environments can force developers to have to deal with operational issues behind the scenes that can suck away valuable time and energy. In this case, whatever agility a serverless platform offered initially may be reduced until it’s barely detectable. If the goal is to liberate developers from that overhead so they can focus on functionality-rich coding with the seamless deployment of their apps, a multi-cloud ecosystem can get in the way, doing more harm than good. Still, there are some benefits to pairing the two.
Benefits of Pairing Multicloud and Serverless
As public cloud service providers like Google and AWS, etc. assume responsibility for infrastructure management and create more customizable, granulated billing for those services, companies with limited IT resources can focus more of their energy on solving business conundrums and less on architecture and infrastructure.
The fact that they don’t have to choose just one or the other (chocolate mint chip or cookie dough) cloud service gives them the agility to get what they want from each service. They can customize and get the benefits that each one has to offer by using parts of both. This requires some technical savvy on the part of the organization to see which cloud services provide which benefits, naturally. And as time goes on, cloud providers will strive to improve and implement more APIs to provide their clients with more “flavors” to choose from.
Other Potential Benefits from Using a Serverless Framework
In addition to getting a more customized slate of options, there are other benefits to the serverless model, including:
- Organizations don’t have to lock themselves in with just one vendor for their cloud services.
- Using the Multicloud Serverless Library reduces the amount of code needed during development by between 40 and 60 percent.
- Reduction or even elimination of infrastructure and platform maintenance burdens and complexity.
- Better flexibility to share data, compare cost vs. performance issues and get the benefit of special offers.
- The serverless framework is highly active and provides significant availability and scalability.
Potential Use Cases
There are already hundreds of situations out there where organizations have landed in a multicloud + serverless environment. Just consider a situation that happens almost every time you turn around: one company purchases another company, but they both use different cloud platforms. Instead of migrating all of company B’s resources to company A’s cloud, they find a way to co-exist using both. Although this can lead to some headaches, it can also lead to solutions and new ideas. Some other situations include:
- Developing and deploying an assortment of microservices on different cloud platforms that work together within a serverless architecture.
- Developing client-side apps that span various platforms by way of a flexible API residing already in the Serverless multicloud Library.
- Developing and using an app whose functionality works the same regardless of which cloud platform it’s hosted on.
Multicloud + serverless is becoming more and more common all the time, and as the development of apps and microservices continues to be attuned to this ecosystem, weaknesses should decrease and the functionality should increase because more organizations should be able to access best-of-breed cloud services by way of events.
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