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serverless / Blog / Serverless Cloud / Serverless for Startups: Navigating Unpredictability, Talent, and Cost-Effectiveness

Serverless for Startups: Navigating Unpredictability, Talent, and Cost-Effectiveness

Kyrylo Kozak

Kyrylo Kozak

CEO & Founder

published Dec 25, 2023

Serverless for Startups: Navigating Unpredictability, Talent, and Cost-Effectiveness

Modern companies have lots of ambitions, crafting complex applications that achieve more and target wide audiences. That is why serverless for startups is gaining popularity, as it lets businesses push the limits in terms of performance and feature sets. 

Whether you want to sustain surges in demand, craft a seamlessly loading web app, or just free yourself from the need for server maintenance, going serverless can be the key. In today’s guide, we’ll explain the potential advantages, share insider tips, and give examples of startups that succeeded thanks to serverless startup development. 

Having spent years in this industry, helping companies transition to serverless and crafting custom serverless apps, we know the ins and outs of this model. Using our experience and familiarity with this technology, we’ll help you weigh the pros and cons and make a decision. So, everything you need to know about serverless - let’s get started.

Advantages of the Serverless Model for Startups

We’ll start off on a high note by showcasing the good things about the serverless model. There is a slew of benefits that you can get, such as:

  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Scalability advantages
  • Reduced operational complexities
  • Improved time-to-market

Cost-Effectiveness

First things first, you eliminate the cost of server upkeep and future scaling. Plus, with more freedom to improve your app without worrying about performance, you can focus on quality. That leaves a startup able to cut out some expenses while maximizing ROI with truly inventive and user-oriented products. But that’s just the tip of the benefits of serverless for startups.

Scalability Advantages

Without the need to take care of hardware or consider the expansion of your team for future scaling, your opportunities open up. A cloud service can withstand very heavy loads, supporting your business even if your customer base grows tenfold. You’re getting the benefits of advanced server architecture without working with it yourself.

Reduced Operational Complexities

By relying on serverless, you eliminate the need for DevOps, getting more time to focus on your product. Instead of monitoring hardware performance or making sure everything is compatible, your team can prioritize what really matters - creating a high-quality offering for the market. Delivering it fast is essential, which is why we finish up with…

Improved Time-to-Market

As you cut out the need for pretty much any server work besides deployment, the time from the start of development to your product launch is shorter. Thus, you can sustain the momentum that startups have initially, delivering on promises with pretty ambitious deadlines.

With these benefits of serverless for startups, it’s no wonder companies are adopting the model. Let’s talk about examples of this to show how the pros go serverless.

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Kyrylo Kozak

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Serverless Startups That Made The Right Choice

We’ll use case studies from our own experience to illustrate how going serverless can challenge conventional structures. First is ZERO5, a parking automation service that wanted to use cloud development to boost their service’s agility, simplify UX, and optimize database interactions. As always, Serverless delivered.

For this case, we replaced SAM AWS with the serverless model, making the system scalable and low-maintenance. Then, via AWS RDS, we scaled up data management while keeping the cost of these processes very manageable. Our team also implemented new features such as video calls, based on AWS Chime and used the Gateway WebSockets API to boost data transfer speeds.

The second of our examples of startups in serverless is a domain registrar and hosting company that came to us with a challenge: migrate their entire system from GCP to AWS. We focused on keeping downtime minimal and kept the company’s services communicating seamlessly even during the migration.

As a result, this startup went serverless with no negative impact to their business, receiving the ability to scale and expand their resource use. This was handled by the Serverless team using tech like Lambda, IAM, and DynamoDB, as well as Kotlin and Golang for the backend.

Serverless Platforms: Which are Best for Startups?

The first one, and perhaps the most popular, is AWS Lambda. This Amazon platform is quite fast and scales up resource allocation, making it good for growing businesses. Plus, Amazon offers solid security, all with very reasonable pricing. This, coupled with the integration with the AWS ecosystem, forms a solid list of pros.

As for the cons of Lambda, the main problem is its comparatively weak customization options. It also has the drawback of allowing incredibly complex functions. If your developers get carried away, you risk having a monolithic structure in the end.

Next is Google Cloud Functions, intended for event-based microservices. It is, however, built with Knative, which opens up a chance for variety, making it more than just a FaaS option. This platform is also integrated with Stackdriver, which is great for app diagnostics. GCF, thus, is a solid choice for your microservices and products that will require close monitoring and debugging.

Do note that GCF is less powerful than Lambda and has fewer features. It’s also been labeled less performance-focused than similar platforms, making it less viable for scaling businesses.

Third is Azure Functions, which supports stateful applications and a versatile array of functions. It also handles deployment to Kubernetes, Azure Stack, and IoT Edge, making it a rather flexible choice. The big con here is undoubtedly pricing, though, as AF is aimed toward enterprises, not startups.

There’s also less common choices like Alibaba Functions and Apache OpenWhisk. Yet, the former is also on the expensive side, while the latter is not fully fleshed out yet. We do, however, advise keeping an eye on Apache OW, as it may become a very strong contender later on. In the current market, AWS Lambda is still a leader if you want to go with a known and proven platform for serverless startup development.

Considerations for Startups Choosing a Serverless Platform

We usually suggest companies look at a few key factors when they’re pondering the option to go serverless. These are the core things to look at:

  • Pricing;
  • Scalability;
  • Security;
  • Control.

Pricing

The importance of pricing was already brought up in the previous section, but we do want to reinforce that idea. You’re choosing a platform for long-term use, so the cost should be manageable. The pricing tiers should accommodate any growth you’ll go through.

Scalability

Speaking of growth, the platform must offer enough resources to sustain your expansion and the future success of your application. That includes a heavy performance focus and cloud infrastructure that will work well for your purposes.

Security

When choosing the best serverless for startups, security should be at the forefront of your considerations. Ideally, popular services like AWS should cover that concern, but you should still inquire about possible extra serverless security layers with your vendor. There’s no such thing as overkill when your confidential data is concerned, as reports show security as a core concern even now.

Control

By its nature, collaboration with third-party services means you need to relinquish some control. However, what’s important is the platform offering you the ability to customize anything you need. Each startup has its own path to go through, so control is imperative if you want to adapt the system to your needs. Your evolution should be fully in your hands.

Future Trends in Serverless for Startups

Serverless has a long way ahead of it, and the technology will only get better. With the market cap forecast to increase greatly, there is a lot of room to succeed. To do so, consider hopping on the following trends.

IoT Apps

Next year, the big thing in the market will be integration with IoT apps. Due to how much data IoT devices generate, substantial resources are needed to work with them. This is much easier with the serverless model.

AI and ML

Then, as with many other industries, artificial intelligence and machine learning are likely to play a substantial role. These technologies require a lot of power as well as a readiness to innovate, leaving serverless and startups as one of the best combinations to work with them.

Multi-Cloud Serverless

Last but not least is the rise of multi-cloud serverless systems. If your team can code the app while juggling multiple environments, using multiple clouds opens up a lot of flexibility. With this, you are less dependent on just one service and can spread out your resources, boosting performance even further. Plus, it makes it easier to transition between platforms.

To sum up, the serverless model is likely to offer more variety in the future, as early as next year even. You can do more with substantial resources, build resource-intensive apps, and work on projects that your own hardware just couldn’t handle

Conclusion

Through this guide on going serverless for startups, we showcased the benefits of this model, to highlight why it’s worth it. Our examples from Serverless’ own case studies have hopefully illustrated that there is a lot of potential to modernize your company. We also covered the most popular platforms to choose from, with pros and cons of serverless for business, giving you an idea of what the market is like. Now that you understand the important factors and the possibilities that serverless offers, you can approach this model with confidence.

If you do want more in-depth information and a guarantee that your transition to serverless will go off without a hitch, our team is here to help. Serverless has helped numerous startups reach their full potential while adhering to the client’s wishes. To see how your business can be transformed and your ambitions realized, contact us today, and let’s get started if you want a CTO as a service for startups.

Faq

What are the main challenges or limitations of adopting serverless for startups?


Chief among the challenges is the difficulty of debugging a serverless app. It’s hard to replicate the environment and, thus, to trace the problems to their cause. There’s also the fact that going serverless without overreliance on third parties is a challenge. That is both due to the process requiring a unique skillset and the fact that giants like Amazon are hard to beat in terms of ROI.

How can startups optimize costs while utilizing serverless computing?


One important point is allocating your resources as efficiently as possible. Another factor, especially relevant with function as a service (FAAS) systems like AWS Lambda, is how frequently you invoke functions. Startups in serverless computing can lower their expenses by structuring their function use.

What security considerations should startups bear in mind while adopting serverless?


We have a whole article dedicated to the subject of serverless security, as it’s a rather complicated subject. On the one hand, you increase the number of attack vectors and entrust your data to a third party. On the other hand, access can be layered to protect vital data and API gateways will serve as an extra layer of defense against any security risks.

Can I first consult you about going serverless before making the final commitment?


Yes, our team would gladly help you make the right decision. With an in-depth consultation we can explain all the pros and cons of serverless for business and point out how they apply to you. It’s clear that serverless platforms for startups are a deep topic and we want our clients to make informed choices, so get in touch and let’s schedule a consultation.

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Kyrylo Kozak
Kyrylo Kozak
founder, CEO