IoT vs. Serverless Computing

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The Internet of Things (IoT) describes an interconnected network of physical and digital devices, sensors, mechanical components, and communication protocols with the ability to transfer and exchange data machine-to-machine or machine-to-interactions.

The serverless computing model is cloud-based and all its resources are managed by the service provider. The client is charged based on the consumption of particular applications. Serverless is widely offered as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Cloud and serverless are ideally suited for each other because the methodology for managing resources in each is very similar. The Google Cloud Platform is an example of how resources are managed on a typical serverless setup. The traditional cloud service providers offering IoT platforms are increasingly moving toward the serverless model to provision low-cost and maintenance-free IoT services.

What Do IoT and Serverless Computing Have in Common?

Here are some similarities between these two emerging technologies:

  • Both IoT and serverless have introduced innovative ways of managing networks of connected devices
  • Both have received immense response from business operators and developers
  • They are still maturing in terms of system integration models
  • They have shown promise in terms of future interoperability. IoT implementations on the serverless will push vendors to invest in cross-platform portability to capture a wider market share

According to What Serverless and the Internet of Things Can Learn from Each Other, the IoT technology culture is headed toward serverless, and the recent buzz at conferences is the successful mingling of IoT and serverless. The general pulse of the market is that IoT implementations will drive portability across serverless platforms.

Another term heard in this market is “architecture map.” As IoT implementations on the serverless continue to mature, architecture maps will play a significant role in developing the designs of such networks and pushing serverless vendors to portability for higher industry use cases.

Serverless as an Emerging Platform for IoT Innovation

Whether it is Amazon’s EC2 or AWS Serverless, the shifting of the central server to the cloud has transformed daily business activities. Business operators are getting used to a third-party service provider provisioning and managing all their business data operations. The adoption of serverless across businesses will remove the necessity for heavy investments in in-house infrastructure and technical staff. ThingLogix.com site has more about this innovative “outsourced data center.”

In a way, the serverless computing model has propelled the rise of IoT implementations because the availability of low-cost but premium IoT platforms—with their integration and management services—have made it easy for cost-conscious business operators to take advantage of these innovative technologies with minimal headaches and operating expenses.

The serverless computing model (rather than open-source or custom) is seen as a primary driver of ready-made IoT platforms of the future, as described in the article Should You Use Serverless Architecture for Your IoT Solution?

Serverless promotes fast IoT adoption with no investments in infrastructure, technology, or personnel—with the promise of vast returns. A Medium article proposes PaaS, an SaaS combined serverless model, whose USPs are zero maintenance and minimal operating cost. Serverless Computing and Serverless Architecture: An Overview of BaaS, FaaS, and PaaS has more about these cloud services.

The article highlights the following benefits of serverless:

  • Provides an easy method to convert capital expenditure into an operating budget
  • Does not require any in-house systems administration
  • Significantly reduces development and deployment timeframes expenses, thus reducing time-to-market
  • Scalable by design

Why IoT and Serverless Fit So Well! brings up some technical points like the serverless being naturally suitable for on-demand processing, scalable computing power, and ready infrastructure for development work.

The Developing Countries: The Level-Playing Field for Serverless, Cloud, and IoT

Suddenly exposed to advanced telecommunication technologies after decades of “standby” status, developing countries are hungry to explore all these technologies for the fullest advantages to domestic business communities. In the coming years, you may see Amazon, Microsoft, and Google engaged in a battle to capture these new markets for cloud IoT services.

Serverless, cloud, and IoT will find rich markets in the developing world, which will want cost-competitive measures to upgrade their business models in a growing global business world. It is easy to understand why globally competing businesses will jump to invest in serverless; interesting use cases are discussed in Serverless Computing Use Cases.

Top Roles of Cloud Computing in IoT describe how IoT and the cloud play the roles of “data pipelines” and data storage” respectively in an interconnected business landscape. Together, these two technologies seem to be beckoning the serverless model to take over as the final facilitator of IaaS, FaaS, and PaaS.

IoT vs. Serverless: Some Unexplored Concerns

When so much positive energy is revolving around the concept of IoT implementation on a serverless computing environment, is there any hidden dark spot to worry about? Well, there is. The serverless environment, like the cloud, has some unexplored issues of data security, data leakage, and data loss.

The primary reason why technology vendors and service providers should invest in more research before deploying “IoT on Serverless” on a commercial scale is the uncomfortable question surrounding Data Governance. This is not a new concern—it has been a longstanding issue ever since businesses were offered outsourced data services.

While IoT on private or hybrid cloud platforms has been accepted, how the global business community, especially the developing countries, will perceive IoT on serverless is still to be seen. Additionally, regulatory compliances may make things difficult for serverless vendors in the coming years.

Serverless Architecture: Evolution of a New Paradigm discusses the strengths and weaknesses of serverless computing and its primary players. The current pricing patterns of IoT services may also pose a problem for serverless environment in future. Execution-based pricing models in a serverless environment have pros and cons.

Image used under license from Shutterstock.com

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