Going serverless: What is it, and how could your business benefit from it?

Going serverless: What is it, and how could your business benefit from it?

The term “client-server” has been evolving from the minute it was coined, but the concept of either having or accessing a “server” has persisted to this day, After PCs started to have the processing power to run applications on their own, the need to have a centralized server to run common, every-day business applications diminished. What remained was file serving — providing users access to both their own and others’ office/document files. Servers provided the means to apply centralized security, access control, management, and backup.

Owning servers comes with its own challenges, however. They require physical space, in some cases special cooling and wiring, and specialists to network, maintain, monitor, and secure. The costs for these specialized staff and resources can add up quickly.

Related article: How to determine which IT services are the best fit for your business

You can also use the services of a Private Cloud (or a Hosting Services Provider) to host your servers in a centralized data center, freeing you from the costs of buying and maintaining the server infrastructures. So, when you have a requirement for a specialized server, you do have options. But for certain kinds of organizations (and the kinds of applications they use), it has started to become evident that the files they need to access on a day-to-day basis (documents, spreadsheets, presentations, accounting files, graphic files, etc.) can be just as easily accessed in public cloud locations. Without question, management and staff will still want to maintain access controls and other security/backup protocols, but where we access these files is becoming less important.

If you are a user of Netflix or other streaming content providers, you’ve become accustomed to accessing your content from any device, at any time, and being able to pick up where you left off. In the business world, users have started to become comfortable storing, accessing and collaborating on their files in services like Dropbox or a Google Docs environment. While many organizations are concerned by the security associated with those services, users have already adopted them as their de facto “servers,” often at odds with the stated policies of their employers.

Is it possible, then, to go completely “serverless”?

For some organizations, the surprising answer is “Yes!”

With the massive popularity of the Office 365 (now Microsoft 365) suite — a cloud-based version of the MS Office suite of productivity applications, virtually all organizations who use it now have access to SharePoint Online, which can be described as a cloud-based document management solution. It utilizes folders and stores files just like your hard drive or network drive, and can be configured in workgroups or teams, with their associated access controls. They can be accessed from any device, and are hosted entirely by Microsoft. In short, it eliminates the need for a conventional server.

Microsoft also offers features such as Azure AD (Active Directory) and Intune which can replace conventional servers for managing your workstations and devices. A serverless infrastructure can be within reach!

Serverless options do require the latest desktop/laptop Microsoft operating system and associated browsers. Plus, the “all your eggs in one basket” aspect of having everything in a Microsoft data centre indicates an additional approach for backup, but the cost savings and greatly-diminished “headache factor” of this serverless approach means it is a solid alternative to more conventional server configurations.

Maximize your Microsoft/Office 365 subscription

This bears repeating: being a Microsoft/Office 365 subscriber means you already have access to Sharepoint Online for file storage and access. Plus, using Sharepoint Online for file serving opens up additional security options, like Multi-factor Authentication and Data Loss Prevention, that are more complex and have higher costs in a conventional setting.

Is serverless right for you? XBASE can help you determine the options that work best for your organization. To learn more, contact us today.

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