Internet of Things With Serverless

IoT benefits tremendously from serverless architecture. Sensors used to monitor manufacturing equipment are one example of an IoT device that leverages serverless technology to run analytics and manage machinery.

Principles of IoT architecture

For a company managing an IoT network, the architecture looks like the following:

The 'Things' can be devices, machines, tools, vehicles, toys, wearables, buildings, etc. Sensors collect data, and actuators do the work of translating these data into actions. Although not mandatory, the edge layer helps large IoT networks speed up data analysis and transfer only the most relevant information to the cloud.

This architecture requires a reliable, cost-effective solution that involves many hardware, software, systems, and compute power. Sensors send data to the cloud, where it is collected and analyzed using cloud computing processing. 

Challenges of IoT architecture

The challenges that a company building an IoT architecture faces are the following:

  • It requires potentially massive compute power to let the devices communicate with the different layers of the architectures and between themselves and analyze large volumes of data
  • The development team needs to find the right balance between reliability, performance, and latency. 
  • Security can be challenging: on top of the usual  security tasks, devices can be a direct cyber-attack source.  Hacked devices can lead to significant data breaches and damage to infrastructure reliability and performance.

The Benefits and Challenges of Serverless IoT Architecture

Because some tasks only run when necessary, serverless technology is perfect for reducing costs and scaling when devices have spikes in usage and data transfers. Serverless benefits for IoT include:

  • Event-driven data processes: With the increasing amount of data, serverless architecture is better suited to process it only when necessary. Databases are built for a specific use case to execute queries faster, even with large data streams.
  • Stateless connections: IoT devices can stream data without making a connection to the cloud. Data decoupled from IoT functionality allows these devices to send data and continue their function without crashing due to data errors.
  • Automatic scaling:  As usage increases and more resources are necessary to handle larger data streams, serverless will scale up  automatically without user intervention.

With the benefits, serverless also has some challenges for IoT developers:

  • For IoT devices such as manufacturing sensors, data streams must be sent to the cloud and communicate with each other. With this added architecture complexity, it can also be challenging to integrate analytics with the multiple layers involved.
  • Developers must find a balance between reliability, performance, and latency. Latency and performance can be an issue if bandwidth is not scaled up for large data streams, affecting  reliability.

An Example of a Serverless IoT Architecture