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Serverless - hype or mainstream?


Posted in: gbst digital, Institutional Capital Markets, Wealth Management Administration
Published: 16/07/2019

Stuart Heriot, Executive Manager – Enterprise Architecture, demystifies serverless technology and looks at the opportunities for financial services.


  • Pay for server use as and when required
  • Unlocks flexibility and cost savings for specific use cases
  • GBST using serverless tech to develop new systems

Since AWS launched the first serverless capability in 2014, it has grown rapidly to form the basis of a new generation of platform services. All major cloud providers are investing in this technology, which promises lower infrastructure costs and flexible scaling through ‘pay by the second’ use.

Serverless at a glance

Serverless tech is not a magic app that runs software without servers. Serverless is about how you pay for the use of the servers; you can opt to pay by the second when you’re actively using the system.

A quick analogy to explain the different options:

Fully Hosted: You buy the car. Full cost upfront. Pay maintenance and upgrade costs.

Cloud Infrastructure: You rent the car. Pay whether you use the car or not.

Cloud Serverless: You use Uber. Pay only when you’re travelling. Driver supplied.

Sustainable scaling

The savings aren’t just about paying only for the time you need it, but also about needing less skills and knowledge to manage the equipment.

Serverless platforms are making it easier for startups and small teams with limited skill sets to deliver scalable applications focusing only on the business problem at hand and not the infrastructure.

Better still, you don’t need to develop your own applications in order to experience the benefits of a serverless solution. In the cloud marketplaces, there are a growing number of ‘as a service’ offerings that charge based on a serverless model.

These can provide Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capabilities, database servers or even full application ‘back end as a service’ platforms with integrated APIs and fully managed storage.

Does serverless suit your business?

Part of the confusion around serverless is whether it’s a one-size-fits-all solution. It has some appealing benefits but it’s not for everyone and for those that could use it, it’s not for everything.

Self host or use Private/Public cloud infrastructure as a service when…

  • You have very predictable usage profile with constant demand.
  • You cannot allow for any startup delays that may come with serverless functions
  • You need to be able to run locally

Serverless may be best with…

  • New products with unknown usage profile that need to scale up or down rapidly
  • Intermittent workloads – event based activities, APIs, peak loads, end of the month and end of year processing
  • Low cost rapid prototyping and innovation with new technologies
  • Non-critical environments with low demand – development, testing and demonstration

Financial leaders already on board

Financial services organisations, with complex IT estates and increasing demand for digital innovation, are well positioned to benefit from the flexibility and savings serverless tech can provide.

HSBC are promoting their implementation of serverless functions to address real time transaction processing at scale.

The National Australia Bank is investing in serverless solutions as a core part of their digital technology strategy to deliver an agile and flexible processing environment.

We’re on the serverless journey

We have piloted the use of serverless API and database technologies in new product offerings such as GBST TaxIntell.

Our strategic investment in microservices allows us to make better use of:

  • emerging serverless database offerings – such as AWS Aurora/PostgreSQL and Azure Serverless SQL Server
  • event-based processing models where serverless functions can be triggered for real time analytics for transaction monitoring and reconciliations.

Talk to our team today about making serverless tech part of your ecosystem.

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