Server vs Serverless Cloud Computing-Comparing Amazon EC2 and AWS Lambda
What is Server Cloud Computing?
Cloud Servers are virtual servers that run on Cloud Computing platforms via the Internet in a separate environment. Being one of the most in-demand technology, Cloud Computing has allotted dedicated servers to be used by clients or share the servers among each other. Server Cloud Computing has numerous benefits that include user’s stability, global reach, and low latency. Cloud Servers are deployed in multi Availability Zones (AZs), as a result, the traditional on-prem servers are not able to match the globalization of Cloud Computing.
Cloud Servers are incredibly fast and stable to use, which results in better user experience even if the data is exceedingly large in terms of size. Complete isolation is maintained in the Data Centres which doesn’t lead to any intervention from the environment or other cloud servers. For instance, a website hosted on AWS DNS would launch pretty quickly as compared to being hosted on a local physical server. Cloud servers add the extra benefit of scalability, as a result, the disk space is never under-utilized or over-utilized plus adds the convenient pricing model.
Types of Cloud Servers
Cloud servers are of three different types and they have their specific functionalities that cater to the utilization of the Cloud network. The three different types are as follows:-
- Public Cloud Server:- A Public Cloud provider will host in its own infrastructure and deliver the content via the Internet to all the end-users. The content delivery is done either through a web-based management console or Command Line Interface (CLI). Examples of Public Cloud includes AWS Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Google Cloud Engine, and so on.
- Private Cloud Server:- A Private Cloud provider will deliver the content to all its users via a private Local Area Network (LAN). Occasionally, the content is also delivered to a few users over Internet gateway but the primary difference between Private and Public Server is that the private servers are own by an organization whereas the public cloud is rented or operated locally.
- Dedicated Cloud Server:- Dedicated servers are extremely privatized servers that are very much dedicated to a user. It comprises the highest level of DDOS mitigation and resolves multi-tenants issues. The servers not only serves as a dedicated instance of a specific user but also restrict the right to access to any of its n global infrastructures without the permission of the user.
What is Serverless Computing?
Serverless Cloud architecture is defined as an architecture that mainly incorporates third party services called “Backend as a Service” and includes a customer-defined application code that runs on the “Function as a Service” platform. A serverless architecture makes it easy for developers to access Cloud infrastructure without managing the underlying hypervisor.
Serverless architecture is now appropriately defined as stateless compute containers that are mainly focused on event-driven problems. It eliminates the infrastructure management tasks such as cluster provisioning, patching the underlying OS, maintenance of physical servers, and capacity provisioning. Serverless architecture is extremely popular in the modern days as it gives the developers an extra space to launch their applications without worrying about the agility or the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). This framework really helps the developers to reclaim that extra time and focus on their core product.
Serverless architectures replace Platform as a Service (PaaS) with Function as a Service (FaaS). Faas lets the backend code of the applications run without managing the servers. It gives the users the advantage of running a piece of code without worrying about the provisioning capacity of the applications.
(For more information on Faas, stay tuned to my upcoming blogs)
Benefits of Serverless Computing
- Operational excellence:- The serverless computing makes a bridge between the infrastructure and the application framework as a result the underlying infrastructure does not intervene with the application framework. System engineers can focus on the underlying platform that manages the application and the product engineers can focus on the core application running on the platform. Compared to other services, Function as a Service architecture is extremely simple to deploy and a serverless architecture won’t require continuous integration, containerized tools, or continuous delivery. It also caters to zero system monitoring and negligible administration. Thus, operability and scalability are restored and it provides an excellent user experience.
- Operational Cost:- The operational cost of a server is huge and the maintenance cost adds to it. Faas makes the operational cost extremely minimal because it is only used when the function or the code is actually called in the application as a result it is 95% cheaper than the server computing.
- Scalability:- Serverless architecture promotes flexible automatic scaling which scales up an application based on the throughput and memory rather than the units of servers.
- Focus on Core business:- The serverless architecture helps the developers to focus on the core framework of the application and utilize their time in developing agile systems. It reduces the time latency of building an application as a result the DevOps methodologies are built within a short time interval. It saves engineers from critical workloads and also facilitates experiments of the new technology stack.
Detailed comparison of Server and Serverless architecture- Amazon EC2 vs AWS Lambda
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) was introduced to ease the problem of computing resources for Developers and Engineers. It is a server-native platform that is auto-scalable, resilient, and even manages its own underlying hypervisors. The main advantage of using EC2 over traditional on-prem servers is that it reduces the computational load of the developers and has automatic capacity provisioning. It also enables a wide area of support for security and management for the infrastructure. Auto-scaling is also enabled as a result the users do not need to worry about the resources and can focus on their core business needs.
AWS Lambda was launched to replace the server cloud computing with a serverless platform to eliminate the need for infrastructure and server management. Lambda supports the “pay as you go” pricing model as well but unlike EC2, it charges based on the execution time and the memory consumed. AWS Lambda allows the developers to write and publish a token of code without worrying about the server framework or resource management. Lambda was designed to be an event-based service and use Function as a Service rather than focus on Iaas or Paas, which reduced the idle time wasted by the computing resources when not in use.
Amazon EC2 and AWS Lambda differs on certain factors and below are the major differences where the two technologies contradict:-
- Setup of the Resources:- Amazon EC2 has to be set up and operated in a very different way than Lambda. First of all, while setting up EC2, the resources have to provision a random amount of space and configure to use the VPN. To direct the traffic towards an EC2, Elastic Load Balancers have to be used or the Auto Scaling feature has to be activated manually. AWS Lambda takes care of all the compute capacity and automatically scales the application as per the on-demand needs. It also eliminates the requirement of managing a Load Balancer.
- Scaling:- With EC2, scaling is implemented manually by the user as a result, the full control of the concurrency and scaling is handled by the client. With AWS Lambda, scaling is considered as an in-built feature whereby there are strict limitations on the number of concurrent functions to be set up for maximizing the scalability of the application deployed.
- Latency:- EC2 resources are provisioned all the time 24x7 as a result their cold-booting of the instances is prevented. The resources might have higher latency at its initial stages but the latency is significantly reduced at later stages. AWS Lambda only switches on the resources for the time the compute resources or the code has to be run so the cold-booting isn’t prevented and the latency is subsequently higher than EC2.
- Cost:- The cost of a server or serverless computing depends on the type of computing resource type. For example, if a user uses t2.nano for deploying their application Lambda costs $0.16 per hour which is 4% cheaper than EC2 ($4.25). Similarly, for t3.micro EC2 is quite cheaper than Lambda as it can handle more memory and requests. Generally, EC2 costs more than serverless Lambda due to the inclusion of the Load Balancers and Auto Scaling framework. Lambda automatically handles traffic Load Balancing and Scaling at no extra cost.
- Security:- In AWS Lambda, the security is fully managed and the user does not have to worry about any malware or cyber-security risks. On the other hand, EC2 fully controls the security and the patching as a result it is indeed sometimes very confusing to manage so many security groups.
Although server cloud computing and serverless computing have different roles and functionalities, a user is completely responsible for which one to use and it entirely depends on the use case of the application. The various factors that can set the two apart are as follows:-
- High-Performance Computing:- Although Lambda promises high performance, it has only 3 Gb of memory hence EC2 is far superior to it in terms of performance.
- Event-Based Applications:- EC2 is not event-centric so it follows the Iaas or Paas infrastructure whereas Lambda is an extremely event-based product whose functionality depends on Faas. Hence, Lambda is surely better when it comes to Event-based Applications.
- DevOps Testing:- Amazon EC2 has great accountability when it comes to testing or manifesting DevOps whereas Lambda is relatively new to the market and it is still under the scrutiny process. Lambda still has the advantage of not managing the underlying infrastructure but while it comes to handling legacy applications EC2 is still preferred by most clients around the world.
Although serverless architecture is extremely preferred by most companies switching to AWS, Amazon EC2 still holds the legacy of deploying an application with full control over the security and providing good user experience. The use of both architecture still prevails in the market and the test cases are a primary factor in considering which one to choose? The different applications of non-identical users make it very complicated and difficult to choose anyone over the other. Thus, the need for both architecture is prevalent and thereby it continues to be an ever-lasting debate to choose server-based or serverless architecture.
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