The Decline of Serverless Cloud Technology: From Trendsetting to Obsolescence

Serverless was a big deal for a hot minute, but now it seems old-fashioned, even though its basic elements, agility and scalability, are still relevant.

It is becoming increasingly evident that serverless technology is losing relevance and will soon fade away in the cloud technology space. Why did this happen? What can we learn from this evolution of technology?

When serverless computing first hit the streets over a decade ago as a cloud computing paradigm, it saved us from needing to handle detailed compute and storage configurations. Everything was done automatically at the time of execution. This seemed more evolution than revolution because PaaS systems were already doing an aspect of this type of computing.

I remember when many wanted me to get on board the hype train and change the focus of my cloud computing podcast to concentrate on serverless. Having been in this industry for a while, I realized this technology would have a more strategic role. Promoting it as a “second coming” was somewhat naive.

Today, serverless cloud technology is increasingly overshadowed in the cloud technology marketplace. Initially lauded for its promise of simplified infrastructure management and scalability, serverless computing has been pushed to the periphery as new trends and technologies capture the spotlight.

I’m always taken aback when people are surprised by this type of evolution. I find it even more perplexing when I question why it came as such a surprise, and then I get angry notes. The business world is always changing, and technological innovations can be grouped into those that make a significant impact and those that don’t. Unfortunately for some true believers, serverless technology fell into the latter category.

Evolving into obscurity

The meaning of serverless computing became diluted over time. Originally coined to describe a model where developers could run code without provisioning or managing servers, it has since been applied to a wide range of services that do not fit its original definition. This led to a confusing loss of precision.

It’s crucial to focus on the functional characteristics of serverless computing. The elements of serverless—agility, cost-efficiency, and the ability to rapidly deploy and scale applications—remain valuable. It’s important to concentrate on how these characteristics contribute to achieving business goals rather than becoming fixated on the specific technologies in use.

Serverless technology will continue to fade into the background due to the rise of other cloud computing paradigms, such as edge computing and microclouds. These introduced more nuanced solutions to the market with tailored approaches that cater to specific business needs rather than the one-size-fits-all of serverless computing.

The explosion of generative AI also contributed to the shifting landscape. Cloud providers are deeply invested in enabling AI-driven solutions, which often require specialized computer resources and significant data management capabilities, areas where traditional serverless models may not always excel. As companies increasingly prioritize AI, serverless models are often bypassed in favor of more static and predictable solutions.

Ubiquitous computing further exemplifies this shift. The concept involves embedding computation into everyday objects, requiring continuous, low-latency processing that traditional serverless frameworks might struggle to deliver consistently. This push towards more integrated and pervasive computing environments further marginalizes serverless models.

Should enterprises care?

The evolving landscape of serverless cloud technology signals a pivotal shift for enterprises. Organizations must reevaluate their technology strategies as traditional serverless models lose prominence to emerging paradigms like edge computing, microclouds, and AI-driven solutions. The rise of AI and ubiquitous computing requires businesses to adopt specialized computing resources and innovative application designs, enabling them to maintain competitive advantage and explore new avenues of customer engagement.

Enterprises that chase cloud hype always concern me. The goal is to find the right technology stack to fit the business needs, cloud or not. Serverless has some impact on that search, but only a little. If you care too much about the fading influence of serverless, you have more significant problems to solve.

Source: David Linthicum