Cloud-Native App Development: Containers vs Serverless

Containers and serverless are two different approaches to application deployment and management, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.

Containers are a way of packaging and deploying applications that allow them to run consistently across different environments. A container includes everything an application needs to run, such as code, libraries, and dependencies. This makes it easy to move the application from one environment to another, without worrying about compatibility issues or differences in the underlying infrastructure. Containers are particularly well-suited for microservice architecture, because they allow each service to be deployed independently and can be scaled up or down as needed.

Functions, on the other hand, are a serverless approach to application deployment. Instead of deploying and managing entire applications, functions allow developers to deploy individual pieces of code that perform a specific task. Functions are executed on-demand, in response to specific events or triggers. They’re often used for tasks like data processing, file manipulation, and webhooks.

The main advantage of functions is their simplicity and ease of use. Since they’re serverless, developers don’t need to worry about managing the underlying infrastructure or scaling the application. Functions are automatically scaled up or down based on the demand, which means that developers only pay for the resources they actually use.

When it comes to managing updates, containers and functions have different considerations. Containers are typically updated by building a new image with the updated code and deploying it to the container registry. From there, the updated container can be deployed to the production environment using a pipeline. The pipeline is a set of automated processes that handle tasks like building, testing, and deploying the application.

Considerations for Containers

Containers have gained popularity as a way to deploy and manage applications, but like any technology, they have their weaknesses.

  • Complexity: While containers can simplify application deployment and management, they can also introduce complexity, especially for developers who are new to the technology. Container orchestration platforms like Kubernetes can be complex and require a significant amount of time and effort to learn.
  • Security: Containers can be vulnerable to security threats if not configured properly. Containers share the same kernel as the host operating system, which means that if a container is compromised, it can potentially access other containers or the host system itself.
  • Resource consumption: Containers can consume significant amounts of resources, especially if not configured properly. Developers need to carefully monitor resource usage to ensure that containers are not consuming too much CPU, memory, or disk space.
  • Lack of standardisation: While there are standards for container images and formats, there are still variations between container platforms and tools. This can lead to compatibility issues and make it more difficult to move containers between platforms.
  • Complexity of updates: While containers make it easy to deploy new versions of an application, updating containers can still be a complex process. Developers need to carefully manage dependencies and ensure that updates don’t introduce new bugs or compatibility issues.

While containers have their weaknesses, they can still be a powerful tool for developers when used in the right context. Developers should carefully consider the needs of their application before deciding whether or not to use containers, and should be aware of the potential challenges they may face.

Considerations for Functions

Managing updates with functions is usually simpler than with containers, because developers don’t need to worry about deploying entire applications. Instead, they simply update the individual function code and redeploy it. Functions are designed to be stateless, which means that they don’t have any long-term memory or state. This makes it easy to deploy updates without worrying about data loss or other issues.

Functions can be a powerful tool for application development, however they also have several weaknesses that developers should be aware of.

  • Limited run time: Functions are designed to be stateless, which means they don’t have any persistent memory or state. This also means that functions have a limited run time, usually measured in minutes or seconds. If a function takes longer than the allowed time to execute, it will be terminated.
  • Limited functionality: Functions are designed to perform specific tasks or functions. They are not well-suited for applications that require complex processing or multiple tasks to be executed. While it’s possible to chain functions together to perform more complex operations, this can lead to a more complicated and harder to manage application.
  • Limited language support: Functions are typically limited to a specific programming language, which can be a barrier to developers who want to use other languages. While some platforms support multiple languages, it’s not always easy to switch between languages, which can limit the flexibility of the application.
  • Cold start issues: When a function is first executed, there can be a delay as the platform provisions the necessary resources to execute the function. This is known as a cold start issue, and it can lead to slower response times for users. While some platforms have ways to mitigate cold start issues, they can still be a problem for some applications.
  • Debugging and monitoring: Since functions are often executed in response to specific events or triggers, it can be harder to debug and monitor them than traditional applications. Developers may need to rely on logging and monitoring tools to track down issues, which can be time-consuming and frustrating.

While functions have their weaknesses, they can still be a powerful tool for developers when used in the right context. Developers should carefully consider the needs of their application before deciding whether or not to use functions.


Overall, containers and functions are both powerful tools for modern application development. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses, and the choice between them will depend on the specific needs of your application. When it comes to managing updates, containers require more effort due to the need for a pipeline, while functions are typically easier to manage due to their stateless nature.

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