While serverless databases are relatively new in terms of databases, they're having a substantial impact in many industries with the shift to cloud-based applications. With that kind of growth, you're wise to investigate where this database variety is going and its uses. You may even want to consider implementing it for your company's applications if the capacity management and cost work for the situation.
What are Serverless Databases?
To have a pure serverless architecture, you need a serverless database to go with your serverless functions. The dynamic allocation allows for significantly more efficient use of resources. Providers list their prices by many variables including but not limited to storage, transactions, and query execution time.
Serverless databases still need servers, just not the same way as traditional databases. The serverless piece refers to the dynamic allocation of resources that allows your company to use your capacity required for the application without waste and overhead.
The most significant benefit for serverless databases is the reduced operational cost in many application situations. The cost-effectiveness relies on economies of scale since the database vendor your company outsources to perform the same services for tens or hundreds of other businesses. However, it also comes back to only paying for what your business's needs are.
Serverless databases are also fabulous for inconsistent request volumes since they are horizontally elastic. If your company's application receives traffic spikes, you do not end up with response time alterations, for example. This automatic capacity management is a business saver, not to mention makes optimization easier in many business models. To have the same capacity in-house, you would need to overbuild your infrastructure and have regular capacity planning meetings.
Serverless databases also save a significant amount of time for most business models. Deploying your database requires an experienced database engineer to handle the configuration, not to mention the high availability necessities. Cloud-based serverless databases need less time for configuration.
As with all database solutions, there are drawbacks to outsourcing. Items like downtime and maintenance fall to that third party. While most have seamless service transition from server to another server while patching is in progress, there is still the possibility of issues. There may also be problems with the other clients of the provider you choose, such as performance or data leaks between clients.
That segues into security concerns on shared systems. The biggest issue is differing security protocol implementations among clients, which provide an opportunity for leaks and hackers alike.
There are also implementation drawbacks. While more providers are moving towards configuration free options and automation, there are still configuration challenges. Areas like testing, firewalls, and debugging require careful consideration before your company can use them without risking crashing your application.
Beware of vendors that claim their database is serverless when it isn't. Some vendors still charge hourly for instances, and you must determine how many operations that instance type will give you. This database is not serverless.
Serverless databases have been around long enough to permeate several fields, including the Internet of Things, telecommunications, finance, eCommerce, marketing, and retail. All these fields use event-based triggers to manage the associated applications and devices. More interfaces are developed regularly, so serverless databases may soon be viable to support your company's applications.
1 - The Use of Serverless Databases Will Increase
Given the present growth trends, I believe that the use of serverless databases will continue to increase. These databases are the most practical option for several fields and types of applications. Serverless compute architecture is pushing the need for serverless databases.
For example, let's take the Internet of Things linked coffee makers. There is always an enormous jump in requests in the morning; however, the rest of the day is relatively low. The cost and automated capacity management scaling mean companies are not wasting money on server capacity at other times. Those savings translate into routing funds to improving the core value proposition of your product.
2 - Serverless Databases Will Become More Efficient
Right now, serverless databases are an efficient way to handle their tasks through dynamic allocation. However, I believe they will become even more valuable as companies like yours adopt this technology. This adoption will spur a need for greater efficiency.
Additionally, as more companies move away from traditional databases, entrepreneurs like me will compete for business, including against giants like Amazon Web Services and Azure. This competition will spur innovation into the future, and concerns about capacity management may even become obsolete.
Over time, the fluid allocation principles will become sharper. We are in the midst of a shift to container-based micro-service architecture, and the next phase will be serverless containers. Serverless platforms will become more efficient and less expensive.
3 - Increased Use Means More Standardization
As adoption increases, the way serverless databases are used is more likely to experience standardization. Right now, many apps are purpose-built around their chosen serverless database vendor. While this works presently, it's not good to lock companies to one specific vendor and require a massive overhaul to move to a new one.
Further adoption means more companies searching for a practical solution to these locks. Entrepreneurs who create systems that transition from one database system to another seamless are poised to create significant value in the industry. If these automatic configurations solve the lock-in problem altogether, everyone benefits.
With more standardization comes more natural application development. Current lock-ins mean companies either customize to a vendor or spend significant amounts of money on a multi-system compatible application. That money would be better served elsewhere in your company as you focus on your growth, not to mention that keeping developers up to date on custom solutions is more expensive than standardized ones.
Standardizing software, applications, containers, and more, expect to see a boom in use for serverless databases. Developers can spend less time on redundancy while worrying less about making the right database decision and how it affects your company long-term. That's a win-win.
4 - App Startup Costs Will Go Down as Serverless Database Use Increases
As time goes on, I predict an inverse relationship between application startup costs and serverless database use. That is, the startup cost figures will go down as usage goes up. This relationship will be persistent over the long term, even as the next database innovation occurs. It's similar to how the full availability of SQL databases helped drive growth in the whole technology sector.
Part of the reason for this relationship is standardization on serverless databases, taking away some of the need to build redundancies. This change will allow developers to innovate. Standardization also increases the availability of resources and more efficient capacity management. All that adds up to developers being able to create better applications faster.
Additionally, serverless databases are uniquely compatible with the fits and starts of launching an application. Developers can be assured that their resource allocation matches their application's needs automatically while also not blowing through any seed money on the capacity not being actively used. This process dramatically cuts startup costs and is suitable for business.
5 - Serverless Database Will Become More Secure
Right now, serverless databases are a secure option. However, any system can become more reliable and reduce vulnerabilities. I predict there will be a massive push for more secure options over the next couple of years as companies realize the opportunities with serverless databases. I also believe these databases can deliver on these opportunities.
Increased use will drive this push for security, along with changes in privacy regulations. I have already seen what GDPR has done to databases, and the more recent CCPA in California is poised to create more change. Consumer data privacy is at the forefront of many minds, which will drive the increased emphasis on securing technology across the board.
Databases need to be secure by default. Take great care with open source databases such as Elasticsearch that have been in many headlines with data breaches: https://www.pandasecurity.com/mediacenter/news/billion-consumers-data-breach-elasticsearch/
Kubernetes is leading the charge with container management. Since it is not proprietary, anyone can secure it against intrusion, and in fact, it is in their best interests to do so. With so many people with a vested interest in securing this technology, it will be done efficiently.
Additionally, increased integration options also mean more security protocol development. Since, historically, exchanges between systems introduce vulnerabilities, you can count on new integrations that are more manageable and safer for your company's data.
6 - Contract Clarity Will Continue to Increase
Serverless databases are relatively new, so the capabilities are evolving. With that comes contract evolution, and your company needs the most secure one that meets your company needs to run your product now and in the future.
Right now, the big thing in contracts is your billing rate. While this is vital, it's not the sole consideration. Items such as downtime and upgrade schedules are equally important since they affect the end-user experience. No company wants their customers to face downtime, especially if they're trying to use your application at a reasonable time.
Overall, contracts will increase in clarity in terms of automated scaling as well. Using smaller time units to express usage with higher precision is a great example. Additionally, as serverless technology becomes more prevalent, your company may want to move away from the large providers towards more individualized solutions with high touch consumer service. Contract clarity helps your business find the right serverless database variation and provider for your needs.
7 - Compliance Will Continue to Gain Prominence
Compliance is an essential function of any database system. It ensures that data is stored safely, and only the right people have access to it. If you've ever looked at the decision-making documents from your predecessors, you will probably find at least a half dozen changes that trace back to a vendor's lack of compliance.
The views on compliance are changing among service providers. Whereas speed used to be the defining characteristic in marketing, more platforms are moving towards making compliance their cornerstone. For them, it's a good business sense with all the government regulations. For you, it's a matter of keeping your company's data secure.
I foresee more serverless database providers making compliance their most crucial feature over speed and ease of use. These days, database vendors cannot be too careful. It is especially true considering some of the lawsuits happening over data breaches.
Overall, cloud-based serverless databases are a useful tool in many business models. These databases provide a valuable model to handle uncertain traffic and time-specific traffic spikes without your company needing to overbuild your infrastructure.
I foresee the use of serverless databases increasing as more companies realize the utility. Between the enhanced focus on compliance and that on standardization, serverless database use becomes more appealing. Given the versatility, that will drive the database industry forward.
What's your take on serverless databases? Feel free to comment below!