Cloud providers and emerging platforms

State of art

Today, companies utilize a wide variety of serverless services offered by major cloud providers as well as emerging platforms like Vercel (a cloud specialized in hosting web front-end applications) and CloudFlare (a global network with numerous security and hosting services). These services can be grouped into three main categories:

  • FaaS: a cloud service that relieves developers from managing their own infrastructure and is an event-driven execution model (e.g., AWS Lambda, Azure Functions, Google Cloud Functions, Cloudflare Workers)
  • Containers: Software packages that contain all the elements needed for execution in any environment (e.g., AWS ECS Fargate, Azure Container Apps, Google Cloud Run,
  • Web apps, es: Cloudflare Pages, Netlify, Vercel

Simultaneously, specialized development frameworks and infrastructure-as-code are also gaining traction, making this model highly effective in terms of productivity. The main ones include Serverless Framework (multi-provider), Architect (AWS), and Ampt (AWS).

A very interesting report on the state of serverless is the one periodically produced by DataDog:

The usage of container-based solutions is growing

The usage of managed services for running serverless containers is experiencing significant growth due to the launch of new services. Leading in this area is Google Cloud, which with the launch of Cloud Run as early as 2019, made containers its flagship serverless product, already widely adopted today.

This type of service simplifies adoption and migration towards serverless since companies often already use containerized environments for their applications. Container-based services also support a wider range of languages and have less stringent limitations compared to FaaS services.

More details and our experience

New providers specialized in front-end

The major cloud providers are not the only players in the serverless world. As early as 2015, just one year after the launch of AWS Lambda, Netlify released its own hosting service for sites built with the 'Jamstack' architecture (a web development pattern based on pre-rendering the entire front-end and exposing databases and custom logic through APIs).

Today, platforms of this kind combine CDN services (servers distributed in multiple geographic areas that speed up the delivery of web content by bringing it closer to users) and serverless with highly advanced development tools and the native ability to run applications or parts of them on the edge (the portion of the network closest to the user). They are integrated with major front-end development frameworks with server-side rendering (e.g., Next, Nuxt, Remix) and static page generation (e.g., Gatsby, Hugo, Astro), providing full-stack support for projects of this kind. The main providers are: Cloudflare, Netlify and Vercel. Among the characteristics that make these platforms ideal for web applications are::

  • Automatic infrastructure configuration from the application repository;
  • Automatic and multi-environment management of released versions, with rollback capabilities;
  • Built-in services activatable on the edge, such as: firewall, routing, middleware functions, A/B testing, authentication

Our experience

Despite the widespread adoption and robustness of the serverless paradigm in enterprise contexts, adoption levels in the banking and financial services sector remain low. This is not surprising given that the migration of systems to major cloud providers is still in its early stages in this industry.

Among the projects already carried out in this area, we have observed the maturity of the services offered by Cloud providers with satisfaction from both customers and development teams. Among the most recent experiences, we implemented an AI system for optimization problem solving using Azure Container Apps services for all calculations. The scalability model and service configurability proved to be excellent and suitable for the use case. The cost model also proved optimal for the specific use case (where some jobs execute intensive computations for a few hours a day), compared to equivalent solutions based on PaaS or IaaS.

In general, we have had the opportunity to use all the major providers, noting significant differences and specializations in services. While AWS tools seem to be favored in the FaaS domain, Google Cloud and Azure offer excellent solutions in container-based solutions.

Conclusion - Serverless and FinTech

From what we see daily, there are many use cases suitable for serverless adoption in the TechFin domain, and many projects would benefit from it in terms of maintainability and costs.

The most common scenario currently for hosting new applications in this sector is to use container orchestrators on proprietary infrastructure, with RedHat Openshift being the predominant choice in most cases. Among the architectural patterns, microservices usage prevails, with standard Web development technologies oriented towards implementing JSON APIs and Single Page Applications (JavaScript). These two elements integrate very well with current serverless-supporting technologies.

It is a fact that the migration to the Cloud is underway, and in the near future, the doors will be open for the adoption of Serverless services. What seems most likely is that we will remain within the perimeter of the major Cloud providers (AWS, GCP, and Azure) and that those serverless services that allow integration on private VPC networks will be used.

Looking further into the future, edge services could cover critical and widespread use cases in the TechFin domain. One particular example is applications supporting Forex trading.