How To

Cloud Native and Serverless: Which Is Right for You?

September 19, 2023 | min

Cloud native and serverless exemplified by a cloud and several serverless terminals

Leaders in the IT space have a significant decision to make when looking to accelerate and improve application development. Cloud native practices and serverless computing both serve to benefit developers and enterprises as a whole. These methods can have overlapping functions, but there are times when IT leaders must choose whether one or the other is the most appropriate tool in the toolbox.

Nutanix offers an ideal cloud native platform with a simplified control plane perfect for users operating in a multicloud environment, as well as a serverless solution via accessible platform-as-a-service options. Deciding which method to choose is a matter of weighing cloud native and serverless options for the individual enterprise.

Key Takeaways:

  • Where cloud native technology uses Kubernetes to abstract server functionalities and containerize applications and code, serverless computing abstracts further such that developers do not need to consider containers when creating code and functions.
  • The cloud native approach spurs accelerated and scalable development on powerful technology, whereas serverless development brings speed due to an absence of underlying dependences.
  • While both cloud native and serverless have their benefits, the projected future market size of cloud native technology exceeds its serverless counterparts.

Taking a closer look at cloud native and serverless technologies will reveal which is more suitable on a case-by-case basis in terms of both user benefit and market growth.

Defining Cloud Native and Serverless

Cloud native practices utilize Kubernetes and containerization across on-prem and public cloud environments to accelerate application development. By allowing for stronger coordination between developers and operators, containerization streamlines microservice-based application creation in a process known as DevOps.

Serverless computing enables developers to focus solely on creating and optimizing applications by outsourcing infrastructure provision and maintenance. A third-party service provider handles the upkeep of physical hardware and manages code execution following the completion of development.

The main cloud native and serverless difference is that each solution presents resources at different layers of infrastructure and therefore presents different resource management methods as well. A cloud native solution abstracts infrastructure up to the operating system level while serverless computing takes the abstraction even further to include containerized workloads. Both abstract away the underlying hardware and create dynamic pools of resources for developers to access.

Despite their stark differences, it is not always the case that IT teams must choose between cloud native or serverless solutions. With an infrastructure such as the Nutanix Cloud Platform that accommodates the user’s existing environment, it is possible to harness the power of cloud native development while maintaining serverless computing provided by a separate third party for certain specific workloads.

Benefits and Use Cases

Going either cloud native or serverless brings accelerated development, non-disruptive application upgrades, and efficient scaling to an IT team’s workflows. 

A common use case of the Nutanix cloud native ecosystem is to modernize on-premises applications and achieve a cloud native operating model without a costly re-architecting. This operating model places greater responsibility over the infrastructure layer in the hands of the enterprise, but also a greater degree of control.

A cloud native transformation may fall short for some organizations due to incompatibility with legacy architecture. There is also an implied challenge of implementing Kubernetes-compatible architecture that is resilient in the face of rapidly changing dynamic systems. 

Serverless computing yields cost savings, platform elasticity, and simplicity. It entails abstracting away the infrastructure layer, removing much of the responsibility of managing containers from the enterprise.

Whereas development teams would otherwise have to define databases or storage capacity as a precursor to deployment, the serverless approach places that burden on a platform provider all without the need for a consumer to invest in physical hardware or complex maintenance solutions

The possible downside to serverless computing is that it can result in vendor lock-in and a lack of operational control. Developers who rely on a platform-as-a-service tend to become exclusively beholden to that service unless the provider also offers a cloud platform with freedom of choice as a key feature.

Growth of Cloud Native and Serverless Technologies

While different infrastructure abstraction methods have their own specific use cases where they will shine unequivocally, decision-makers looking for a clear “winner” in the cloud native and serverless debate might find the clear-cut answer they seek in the overall growth and market size of each technology. Investments, projections, and forward-thinking strategies across the industry reveal the path ahead for both cloud native and serverless development methods.

The Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Index conducts a global research study that surveys IT leaders around the world to chart the current state of enterprise cloud deployments through raw data. 

In the latest EIC survey, 94% of respondents report that they deployed Kubernetes. This is a clear indication of the broad reach of cloud native infrastructure components across the industry.

Furthermore, 46% of EIC respondents expect cloud native developers to be among their top hiring priorities in the next two years. With nearly half of all IT decision-makers seeking to onboard talent with this specific expertise, the future of development seems clear.

Talent needed in the IT industry according to key decision-makers, with an emphasis on cloud native developers

The validity of cloud native solutions gains even more support from projections regarding the overall market size of cloud native and serverless options. MarketsandMarkets predicts that serverless market size will reach $21.1 billion by 2026. Similar projections from the same researchers indicate that cloud native will reach $38.5 billion by 2027.

A Platform That Goes Beyond Cloud Native and Serverless

Widespread adoption of cloud native solutions is clear through sheer market size and growth. In terms of user benefit, however, both it and serverless solutions present a viable way forward that may be more or less effective for the individual enterprise based on specific goals and budgets.

Choosing cloud native development brings the benefit of accelerated development with minimal disruptions, whereas serverless methods emphasize cost savings and simplicity that allow for greater creativity. The ideal platform, therefore, is one that can provide the benefits of both depending on the consumer’s needs.

The Nutanix Kubernetes Engine is part of the cloud native suite of products on the Nutanix platform and is a complete solution for integrating Kubernetes storage, monitoring, logging, and alerting for a full cloud native stack. At the same time, NKE includes platform-as-a-service and containers-as-a-service serverless functions.

While cloud native and serverless will likely remain a hot topic for some time into the future, businesses adopting a comprehensive platform that provides wide accommodation and freedom of choice will not have to compromise on one or the other. With Nutanix, consumers have one platform to run apps and manage data anywhere.

Learn more about how cloud native HCI brings cost savings and what companies can do to optimize app performance in the cloud.

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