Scale Smart! Let's compare Serverless Computing to Kubernetes

April 25, 2023

By Terry Harmon, VAULT CTO

As your business gains traction, your application needs to keep up with the growing demand of your users. But how do you ensure your application can scale seamlessly without compromising on performance and availability? That’s where serverless computing and Kubernetes come into play. Let’s explore the benefits and considerations of each approach in order to help you make an informed decision when determining which one is the right fit for your business needs.

Serverless Computing – Living on a Cloud

Serverless computing is a cloud computing model where the cloud provider takes care of all the operational aspects, such as scaling, patching, and maintenance, while developers focus solely on writing code. With serverless computing, developers can write code in the form of functions or microservices, which are then triggered by events and run on-demand. Some popular serverless platforms include AWS Lambda, Azure Functions, and Google Cloud Functions.

Benefits of Serverless Computing

  1. Cost-Effective: With serverless computing, you pay only for the actual execution time of your code, and there are no upfront costs or overhead for managing infrastructure. This can result in cost savings, especially for applications with variable workloads that require frequent scaling up and down.
  2. Auto-Scaling: Serverless platforms automatically handle the scaling of your application based on the incoming events or requests. This ensures that your application can handle sudden spikes in traffic without any manual intervention, making it highly scalable.
  3. Focus on Code: Serverless platforms take care of the operational details, so developers can concentrate on writing code without the need to manage infrastructure. This enables faster development and deployment cycles.

Considerations for Serverless Computing

  1. Vendor Lock-In: Serverless platforms are typically provided by cloud providers, which may result in vendor lock-in. Switching to a different provider or moving out of the serverless ecosystem can be challenging, as the code and configuration may be tightly coupled with the provider's services.
  2. Limited Control: As a developer, you have limited control over the underlying infrastructure and configuration of the serverless platform. This may not be suitable for applications that require fine-grained control over performance, security, and other operational aspects.
  3. Complexity: Although serverless computing simplifies operational aspects, it brings in new complexities such as distributed systems, event-driven architectures, and debugging. Developers need to adapt to these new paradigms and learn new tools and techniques. 
  4. High costs with heavy traffic: Serverless computing can become expensive with heavy traffic as the cost of execution time increases.
  5. Cold starts: Serverless functions may experience cold starts, which can result in longer execution times for the first request.

Using for JavaScript applications

One way to implement serverless computing for JavaScript applications is by using is a serverless application framework that enables developers to build and deploy serverless applications in AWS. It provides a simple and intuitive interface to manage serverless resources and abstracts away the underlying infrastructure.

Pros of using for JavaScript applications

Easy to use: has a simple and intuitive interface that enables developers to build and deploy serverless applications with ease.

Faster development cycles: abstracts away the underlying infrastructure, allowing developers to focus on writing code, resulting in faster development and deployment cycles.

Cons of using for JavaScript applications

Vendor Lock-In: sst is only available for AWS, and migrating off AWS would require a large effort if necessary in the future. 

Kubernetes – Cruising with Container Orchestration

Kubernetes, often abbreviated as K8s, is an open-source container orchestration platform that automates the deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Containers are lightweight, portable, and scalable units of software that package an application and its dependencies, making it easy to deploy and run consistently across different environments. Kubernetes has become the de facto standard for container orchestration and is widely used in production environments.

Benefits of Kubernetes

  1. Portability: Containers are portable, which means that you can package your application and its dependencies into a container image and run it consistently across different environments, including on-premises, cloud, or hybrid environments. This allows for flexibility in choosing the infrastructure that best suits your business needs.
  2. Scalability: Kubernetes provides built-in scaling features that allow you to scale your application horizontally by adding or removing containers based on demand. This enables your application to handle varying workloads effectively.
  3. Flexibility and Control: Kubernetes gives you fine-grained control over various aspects of your application, such as resource allocation, networking, and storage. 

Considerations for Kubernetes

Maintenance: Kubernetes requires additional management overhead compared to serverless computing, as it involves managing the underlying infrastructure, such as nodes and clusters, as well as the application itself. This can be challenging for smaller teams or those with limited resources.

Learning Curve: Kubernetes has a high learning curve and requires expertise in containerization, networking, and distributed systems. This may not be suitable for teams without the necessary skills or resources.

Costs: While Kubernetes can be cost-effective for long-running applications with consistent traffic, it can be expensive for applications with variable workloads or heavy traffic.

Making the right choice

Both serverless computing and Kubernetes are powerful approaches for scaling applications, but they come with distinct trade-offs. Serverless simplifies operational aspects, enabling faster development and dAs an alternative, Kubernetes provides more control and flexibility over the deployment cycles, but requires developers to learn and adapt to new paradigms. 

Ultimately, the decision between serverless and Kubernetes depends on your specific business needs, application requirements, and team’s expertise. By carefully considering each approach, you can choose the one that best aligns with your goals and empowers your application’s growth in a rapidly changing business landscape.

Still unsure whether to go with serverless or Kubernetes for your application’s scaling needs?

VAULT has you covered! Our team of experts can help you make the right decision and implement the best strategy for your business or startup. Contact us today at to learn more.

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