What are Serverless Storage Systems?

Serverless storage computing has emerged as a new IT innovation meant to help simplify business operations when it comes to data storage, while also not having to worry about the hardware or operating system on which the code is being run. 

This is because serverless cloud computing automatically scales resources up or down depending on the demand or needs of the client, and the computing resources that are needed for running the application code are automatically provisioned as well. And, contrary to what some people think, not all database storage services are severless. 

In this guide, we cover what severless storage exactly is (and what it is not), the primary use cases for serverless storage, and the key providers of serverless storage systems on the market today.

What is Serverless Storage?

The term ‘serverless storage’ is a bit misleading. That’s because serverless storage does not refer to servers no longer being used for data storage. Rather, it means that individual users and business owners no longer need to worry about using servers. That’s because a third party, normally a cloud provider, handles the server instead. 

In other words, all responsibility for the provisioning, scaling, and scheduling of the backend infrastructure is left to the cloud provider. The advantage for developers is they can focus more of their resources on further developing front-end application code, while the backend work is left to the cloud provider. 

This stands in stark contrast to traditional storage solutions, which are designed to be run from servers onsite from a single location. The developers at a company have to worry equally about the backend development just as much as they do the frontend. In this case, performance of the storage solution is based almost entirely around the knowledge and expertise of the company’s developers.

Development teams or individuals then have to spend countless hours in regards to monitoring, provisioning, infrastructure, memory, node size, and performance tuning. All of these responsibilities are instead handled by the provider, rather than the developers. 

So in order for a storage system to be truly ‘serverless,’ it needs to have the following qualities: all provisioning and backend work must be handled by the cloud provider, and resources are automatically scaled up or down depending upon the needs of the client. In addition, most serverless storage providers offer their services under a pay-as-you-go model, meaning that the rate is paid by the client on a monthly or annual basis. 

Also read: Choosing the Right Storage to Provision DevOps

Uses For Serverless Storage

There are numerous use cases for severless storage systems. Perhaps the most prominent use is when it comes to building microservice architectures. This is because microservices revolve around creating smaller-scale services that communicate via APIs and are intended for a single task. Since serverless in turn revolves around rapid provisioning and automatic scaling, it’s suitable for supporting microservice architectures.

Another vitally important use for serverless storage is data processing. That’s because serverless storage is adept at storing and processing data such as text, images, video, and audio files. The whole idea behind serverless computing is that your applications won’t run until they are ready to be used and can scale automatically. This allows businesses to scale in a cost-effective manner to meet the demands of users. Cost is kept to a minimum even as user demand increases because large overheads are not incurred when the service is not being used.

A third important use for serverless storage is with API backend development. Specifically, when any function on a serverless platform is transformed into an HTTP endpoint, it can be assembled into an API gateway for added security. 

Key Providers of Serverless Storage

The original (and still most popular) serverless storage provider is AWS, or Amazon Web Services. In existence for the last seven years, the AWS Lambda function enables front end developers to run their code without actually managing or provisioning the server. AWS is far from being the only serverless storage provider, however. 

Oracle has had a running open sourced serverless solution called Oracle Functions for the last three years. It allows users to deploy functions to any cloud platform of their choice. Oracle Cloud Infrastructure is directly compatible with Oracle Functions. 

Another option is Google Cloud Functions, which according to Google is designed to help developers create single purpose functions without needing to manage a cloud-based server. One notable feature about Cloud Functions includes  public Cloud Run, a managed cloud environment that allows users to deploy serverless applications, and which was introduced over two years ago.

More providers for Serverless Storage include Microsoft’s Azure and IBM’s OpenWhisk.

Severless storage systems allow the development teams from businesses to focus on frontend development and writing code versus provisioning and managing cloud infrastructure. Serverless storage offers users and businesses a more cost-effective, convenient, and scalable alternative to traditional data storage solutions.

Read next: 10 Best API Management Tools & Platforms 2021

Nahla Davies
Nahla Davies is a software developer and tech writer. Before devoting her work full time to technical writing, she managed—among other intriguing things—to serve as a lead programmer at an Inc. 5,000 experiential branding organization whose clients include Samsung, Time Warner, Netflix, and Sony.

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