Serverless Is Cheaper Than VMs, Containers – Report

Scott Ferguson
7/4/2017
50%
50%

Serverless computing is still a new concept in the era of cloud computing, but a new research paper finds that this aspect of the cloud could save enterprises money, even compared to virtual machines and containers.

451 Research looked at serverless computing products from the four biggest public cloud providers -- Amazon Web Services, Google, Microsoft and IBM -- and found that the technology offered a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) compared with VMs and containers, which have been around longer and are more established within the enterprise. (See Containers Vs. VMs: Where Should IT Pros Puts Their Money?.)

Overall, IBM offered the least expensive offering, although Microsoft scored well on certain configurations, according to the June 29 report.

As Enterprise Cloud News Editor Mitch Wagner pointed out in a recent article about Platform 9, serverless computing or serverless architecture does actually require servers. (See Artificial Intelligence Expert Weighs In for WiC.)

The serverless part comes courtesy of the software that automatically manages resources -- memory, storage and VMs -- and spins up those resources as needed, as well as winds them down depending on the demand. The advantage here is that the technology allows developers to focus on application behavior.

Penny saver
(Source: WerbeFabrik)
Penny saver
(Source: WerbeFabrik)

This is where the savings come from, according to 451 Research. Since there is no need for developers to provision, configure or manage the infrastructure to create applications, an enterprise can save money over the course of time.

"When a serverless function is active for just three quarters of the month, it only takes a 10-minute saving in operational overhead for serverless to beat virtual machines on TCO. Even without the savings in developer time, the ability of serverless to increase utilization means it is cheaper than using VMs when the code is executed fewer than 500,000 times each month," according to the survey.

Serverless computing first came to wider attention in 2014, when AWS released its Lambda product. Google, IBM and Microsoft all followed with their own offerings.


M&A activity is turning the cloud upside down. Find out what you need to know in our special report: Mergers, Acquisitions & IPOs Are Rocking the Cloud.


Serverless -- or functions-as-a-service (FaaS) -- is increasing in popularity, with about 37% of IT shops using some version of the technology, according to 451 Research's "2016 Voice of the Enterprise (VotE): Cloud Transformation, Workloads and Key Projects" report.

"Serverless is more than just hype; it has the potential to transform the way we develop, build and run applications in the cloud. Understanding the economics of serverless technology is vital to understanding its potential to disrupt the industry," Owen Rogers, a research director at 451 Research, wrote in the report.

451 Research also found that enterprises should look for further price cuts in serverless computing later this year.

Related posts:

— Scott Ferguson, Editor, Enterprise Cloud News. Follow him on Twitter @sferguson_LR.

(7)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
7/7/2017 | 2:32:52 PM
Re: Makes sense
Good point, danielcawrey. SOMEBODY'S got to deal with those server issues. This is particularly an issue with private cloud, where the cloud provider and customer are the same company. 
mhhfive
50%
50%
mhhfive,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/6/2017 | 3:02:56 PM
Re: Makes sense
The freemium model works if you do it right. Giving away products for free, but then charging when users get hooked... it just works for subscription services. 

But it's also a bit like a drug dealer relationship in a way..... 
Ariella
50%
50%
Ariella,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/6/2017 | 2:31:41 PM
Re: Makes sense
@mhhf1ve It's certainly a winning strategy for AWS. It is still the market leader. I also noticed that quite a number of the data science students whose blogs I've read run their projects in AWS.
mhhfive
50%
50%
mhhfive,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/5/2017 | 8:50:27 PM
Re: Makes sense
> "The more time you can save developers on fussing with infrastructure, the more productive -- as opposed to busy -- they become."

Yup. This is exactly how Google's datacenter operates internally, I've heard. Google engineers who don't work on the datacenter stuff -- don't have to worry at all about the resources they need to run their apps or to develop anything they want to try out... they just do it. And it also allows them to pursue their 20% time projects with lower overhead.

It's also lead to the popularity of AWS -- since Amazon gives away free time on AWS for developers to try out how it works.. hooking developers into Amazon's systems. 
danielcawrey
50%
50%
danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/5/2017 | 4:32:57 PM
Re: Makes sense
The idea of "serverless" is a bit of a misnomer. 

Yes, from the customer's standpoint serverless leads to a simplified infrastructure. But that doesn't mean the vendor doesn't have to contend with an array of issues. We'll see how the marketing for this service progresses. 
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
7/5/2017 | 3:09:06 PM
Makes sense
The more time you can save developers on fussing with infrastructure, the more productive -- as opposed to busy -- they become. 
mhhfive
50%
50%
mhhfive,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/5/2017 | 12:58:10 PM
More abstractions from bare metal...?
It's interesting that the trend seems to point to further and further abstractions from the underlying hardware. I wonder if that's because there hasn't been as much hardware improvement -- and the Moore's law curve is starting to "fail" as physical limits are reached for silicon. 

 
More Blogs from Scott Ferguson

For the last several years, CIOs and IT professionals have been wrestling with two specific issues as they work toward a cloud-centric future: Agile IT and the rush toward digital transformation. While enterprises want to keep innovating, finding a starting point and knowing which projects to tackle first remain a major obstacle.

To get a better handle on Agile IT and digital transformation, Light Reading Managing Editor Scott Ferguson recently spoke to two experts in these fields: Dan Kearnan, senior director of marketing for cloud at SAP, and Roy Illsley, a distinguished analyst with Ovum.

From its roots in industrial farm machinery and other equipment, John Deere has always looked for a technological edge. About 20 years ago, it was GPS and then 4G LTE. Now it's turning its attention to AI, machine learning and IoT.
Artificial intelligence and automation will become more integral to the enterprise, and 90% of all apps will have integrated AI capabilities by 2020, according to Oracle CEO Mark Hurd.
IBM is now offering access to Nvidia's Tesla V100 GPUs through its cloud offerings to help accelerate AI, HPC and other high-throughput workloads.
CIO Rhonda Gass is spearheading an effort to bring more automation and IoT to the factories making Stanley Black & Decker tools and other equipment.
Featured Video
Upcoming Live Events
September 17-19, 2019, Dallas, Texas
October 1-2, 2019, New Orleans, Louisiana
October 10, 2019, New York, New York
October 22, 2019, Los Angeles, CA
November 5, 2019, London, England
November 7, 2019, London, UK
November 14, 2019, Maritim Hotel, Berlin
December 3-5, 2019, Vienna, Austria
December 3, 2019, New York, New York
March 16-18, 2020, Embassy Suites, Denver, Colorado
May 18-20, 2020, Irving Convention Center, Dallas, TX
All Upcoming Live Events