Understand the costs of going serverless

Serverless Blog August

It’s time to get ready for serverless computing. If you haven’t moved any of your cloud-based operations in that direction yet, or if none of your vendors have started offering a serverless platform for your website or mobile app, buckle up. Serverless is coming in hot, and with good reason.  

It’s in your providers’ best interest to push you toward serverless as quickly as they’re ready, it’s usually in your best interest to capitalize on their innovation.

Serverless computing is incredibly scalable, can be extremely affordable, and removes a large chunk of potential issues from your IT team. Because, of course, serverless doesn’t really mean serverless. There are still servers – they just aren’t your problem.

Here’s what’s going on: “Serverless isn’t exactly serverless at all, but it does enable a developer to set event triggers and leave the infrastructure requirements completely to the cloud provider. The vendor delivers exactly the right amount of compute, storage and memory and the developer doesn’t even have to think about it (or code for it).”

I was recently reading the article that quote came from, and there was one thought I couldn’t keep out of my mind: “Sure, you don’t have to think about it or code for it … but you do have to pay for it.”

When your developers don’t have to manage the infrastructure on which your operations run, all that’s left is the cost. While this approach leaves you with a lot less labor and responsibility, it also leaves you with a lot less control.

It used to work like this: your organization would buy a server (or ten) and set up a virtual infrastructure or container on which to run your systems. The responsibility was pretty major – if your servers became overloaded, for example, you were out of luck because you only had a fixed number of them – but at least the costs were controlled. You knew how much you had paid up front, you knew how much it cost to keep them running every month … you were in control.  

With serverless, you only pay for computing time when it’s being used. As Amazon’s serverless platform, Lambda, puts it on their website: “you run code without provisioning or managing servers. You pay only for the compute time you consume - there is no charge when your code is not running.” Like I said – efficient.

But what happens when your routine corporation suddenly hits it big? Users are visiting your site or downloading your app at a viral rate compared to last month. First of all, congratulations! Second of all … watch out for that bill. You’re no longer looking at a situation where you can control the capacity of your servers – instead, your limits are pretty much non-existent. Great for UX, not-so-great for budget.

You need a solution that can help you track and manage those costs. Here’s why integrating Applogie is a must before you go serverless:


  1. Other software asset management models become obsolete. I talked recently about how most of our competitors primarily manage IaaS. But as companies move toward serverless computing models, IaaS platforms and vendors will become outdated, as will their tricks for saving money (like pre-paying for your licenses and reserving instances).
  2. You need a way to monitor what you’re spending on the daily. Applogie monitors your costs in near real-time. Instead of waiting until you get a bill for your servers at the end of 30 days, only to discover then that you were operating at a 500% capacity month-over-month, you’d see those trends the very next morning. That knowledge can be priceless, not only in terms of shifting your budget, but in understanding the whole picture so you can make changes if necessary.
  3. Serverless computing introduces a whole new category of charges. Traditional software management solutions don’t delve as deeply into all your cloud costs as Applogie does. Our technology looks specifically for serverless charges and alerts you accordingly. For example, if you’re trying to monitor your AWS usage but aren’t looking explicitly for Lambda usage, you might miss it. Applogie won’t.

There’s a lot of good that can come from serverless computing, and I’m excited to see where the technology goes from here. And as long as you’re prepared to monitor its costs, you should be excited too.