Which is Better for Application Development – Serverless or Kubernetes?

Publish Date:  

Comparing Application Development with Serverless and with Kubernetes

Share This Post

Last updated on April 16th, 2024

In the realm of application development, two approaches that are always being talked about a lot are serverless and Kubernetes. Both businesses and developers are constantly evaluating the two options and assessing how each specific technology can be used for reaching business goals, with how many resources, and at what cost. Read on to take a closer look at the Serverless vs. Kubernetes debate, understand what they have in common, how they differ, and what benefits they offer. This article will also give tips on choosing between them wisely.

Understanding Serverless Application Development

As an innovative cloud-native application development model, serverless enables developers to build (and run) applications – without having to manage servers. The cloud provider abstracts all the servers away from the app development process and handles all administrative tasks across provisioning, maintaining, and scaling the server infrastructure – freeing teams from menial tasks.

All developers need to do is package their code in containers for deployment, and the technology automatically responds to demand and scales up and down as needed. Because serverless offerings are metered and offered on-demand, development teams do not have to pay for functions that are not used and sitting idle.

Since the cloud provider is responsible for managing both the infrastructure and the scaling of apps, development teams can ensure the automatic and seamless allocation of resources. For instance, AWS offers an array of serverless technologies for running code, managing data, and integrating applications. Development teams can leverage automatic scaling and high-availability capabilities to increase agility, reduce complexity, and optimize costs. Since complex infrastructure management tasks like capacity provisioning and patching are taken care of, teams can focus on writing code that serves their customers in the best possible manner.

Pros and Cons of Serverless Application Development

Application Development ToolProsCons
AWS LambdaReduced operational costsPotential security vulnerabilities
Google Cloud FunctionsBetter developer productivityVendor lock-in
Microsoft Azure FunctionsStreamlined app developmentComplexity in debugging
IBM Cloud FunctionsEnhanced software qualitySecurity and privacy concerns
Apache OpenWhiskSeamless scalabilityLimited control over execution
Fn ProjectReduced infrastructure managementIntegration complexity
KubelessRapid deploymentOperational overhead
OpenFaaSEasy scalingCold start latency
Azure Durable FunctionsStateful serverless workflowsLearning curve for complex workflows
AWS Step FunctionsSimplified orchestration of microservicesVendor-specific dependencies

Understanding Application Development Using Kubernetes 

As a portable, extensible open-source platform, Kubernetes allows app dev teams to manage containerized workloads and services, facilitating both declarative configuration and automation. Since any deployment will describe the resources it needs in terms of CPU, memory, speed, dependencies, etc., Kubernetes makes sure these resources are available.

Although containers offer a good way to bundle and run applications, they need to be managed around the clock to ensure there is no downtime. Kubernetes provides development teams with a framework to run distributed systems resiliently. By taking care of application scaling and failover, Kubernetes enables teams to automatically mount a storage system of choice and automate rollouts.

Built with self-healing capabilities, Kubernetes can restart containers that fail, replace them if needed, and ensure app performance is interruption free. It can also enable teams to manage otherwise sensitive information, including passwords, OAuth tokens, and SSH keys, and update security – without rebuilding container images from scratch.

Pros and Cons of Kubernetes Application Development

Application Development ToolProsCons
Docker ComposeSimplified local development environmentLimited scalability
HelmStreamlined application deploymentComplexity in managing Helm charts
SkaffoldAutomated development workflowsRequires understanding Kubernetes
DraftQuick setup for Kubernetes projectsLimited customization options
KustomizeFine-grained configuration managementInitial learning curve
KomposeEasy migration from Docker ComposeLack of advanced features
KubeBuilderSimplified Kubernetes-native developmentSteep learning curve
KubelessServerless application developmentLimited language support
TiltReal-time feedback for Kubernetes appsConfiguration complexity
TelepresenceLocal development with remote clustersPerformance overhead

Choosing Between Serverless and Kubernetes 

Organizations that want to stay competitive can benefit greatly by embracing technologies like Kubernetes and serverless. While serverless is great for bringing products quickly to the market, Kubernetes can enable seamless scalability.

Although both offer a different set of pros and cons, let’s look at how serverless and Kubernetes fare across different aspects:


Serverless allows for simpler management and maintainability, whereas Kubernetes demands regular maintenance and updating. 


When it comes to cost-effectiveness, large spikes in traffic don’t necessarily affect cost in Kubernetes, unlike serverless where, although teams pay only for the services they use, costs can grow quickly.


Although both serverless and Kubernetes were built keeping scalability in mind, scaling Kubernetes is far more complicated than scaling serverless.

Feedback Loop:

Despite having a steep learning curve, developers that get the hang of Kubernetes can make their way through; with serverless, since each vendor has its own technology, processes, and rules, the feedback loop can be rather long.


Serverless eliminates the need for any kind of infrastructure monitoring, unlike Kubernetes, where developers need to take out the time to monitor and log multiple layers and objects using a handful of tools. 


In a serverless setting, security is taken care of by the cloud provider, whereas with Kubernetes, developers need to constantly secure their instances.

Serverless and Kubernetes offer different capabilities and solve different problems. They aren’t competing technologies and thus shouldn’t ideally be pitted against each other. But if you had to make a choice, here’s what you should keep in mind:

  • If your development team has limited experience, you want to limit your costs and manage unpredictable loads efficiently, you should go the serverless way. 

  • If your developers are highly skilled, your services already run on containers, and you have predictable loads, Kubernetes should be your go-to choice. 

Remember, both technologies are a huge step forward in terms of maintainability, scalability, and cost savings. So, you need to make a choice depending on the capability of your team, your budget, and the performance and scalability level you desire. Connect with us today to understand more and make the right choice.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best

You may like to read this

Amazon Elastic Container Service

Essential Amazon Elastic Container Service Deployment Strategies

Last updated on July 11th, 2024 Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) is a fully managed container orchestration service that simplifies the deployment, management, and scaling of containerized applications.  By automating the complex orchestration process, ECS…
Cloud Computing Technologies

Latest Cloud Computing Technologies Explained

Last updated on July 4th, 2024 94% of businesses are already using cloud computing to boost their IT infrastructure. The cloud has completely changed the game, offering unmatched scalability, flexibility, and cost-efficiency. But keeping up…
OpenStack Cloud Architecture

Mastering the Core Concepts of OpenStack Cloud Architecture

Last updated on July 2nd, 2024 OpenStack has transformed cloud infrastructure since its inception. Developed by NASA and Rackspace in 2010, OpenStack has grown into a leading open-source cloud platform, driving innovation and flexibility in…
Scroll to Top