There’s a lot to love about serverless: Increased agility, auto-scalability, high availability, and not paying for idle servers, to name a few.

Still, there’s historically been a lack of quantitative data in the market to inform developers, DevOps practitioners, and decision makers about crucial serverless adoption metrics and benchmarks. So, we created For the Love of Serverless: 2020 AWS Lambda Benchmark Report for Developers, DevOps, and Decision Makers

The report calls out key trends to help you make knowledge-based decisions about architecture and performance goals. And, ultimately, to build better software. For this report, we’ve aggregated and analyzed trillions of serverless events that New Relic One processes.

In addition, we’re hosting a discussion panel on Thursday, Feb. 20, at 11 a.m. PST, with AWS Principal Developer Advocate Chris Munns, Forrester Principal Analyst Jeffrey Hammond, and New Relic Principal Product Manager Adam Johnson. We’ll be discussing all of the latest trends and benchmarks recently released throughout the industry.

Within New Relic One, we’ve seen serverless adoption significantly increase within enterprise organizations, both among cloud-native innovators and traditional industries that we may not typically view as fast-moving. 

For the cyclical, real-world workloads of most businesses running in digital environments, it’s hard to ignore the opportunity to transition from an over-provisioned infrastructure designed to accommodate the most extreme traffic use cases to flexible programming models like those that run in serverless environments.

Here are a few key findings from the report:

  • Serverless adoption among enterprises continues to rise with a 206% increase in average weekly invocations over the last 12 months. The enterprises using serverless in production are expanding their serverless footprint with a 178% increase of functions per account.
  • Developers mostly rely on Node.js and Python for building serverless applications on Lambda, with Java as the third most-used runtime. However, with the AWS launch of Provisioned Concurrency mitigating cold start impacts and VPC improvements, making Lambda more attractive for enterprises that require isolated environments, we expect the adoption trends for Java to increase in 2020. 
  • The continued bias toward smaller function code size, due in large part to deployment package size limits from AWS, supports the serverless best practice of creating functions to perform a single, well-defined task with low overall code sizes.
  • Developers tend to prolong updates to the latest language version after deprecation announcements from AWS. We saw a notable volume of functions still running Node.js. 6.10, Python 2.7, and even older versions. These are likely unmaintained functions inflating error rates and costs.

Myths, challenges, and evolutionary progress

We also asked serverless experts throughout the developer community to weigh in on the current state of the industry and the direction it’s heading. 

According to Jeremy Daly, host of Serverless Chats, enterprises still face new challenges with serverless adoption.

“I think we’re going to see serverless become more complicated before it becomes easier,” Daly said. “While the basics of getting a simple function up and running is quite simple, creating complex applications that communicate with multiple managed services is a much different story.”

Farrah Campbell, Ecosystems Director at Stackery, commented on the organizational challenges facing serverless adoption in 2020. “One challenge is how organizations adopt serverless as the primary architectural solution for their projects. Many organizations have one or two teams that have achieved great success with serverless but are unsure how to replicate that success on a wider scale. These organizations have talented people who share their knowledge and experience, but they also need tools to help central operations teams support them in the same way they support teams building applications with other architectural patterns.”

Discussing the state of serverless in 2020, Dave Townsend, Principal Software Engineer, Matson, said, “It is still really early in this game, and I think as a community we’re evolving. There are certainly some gaps, and the gaps are what people are often the most vocal about pointing out. But, as we saw with some of the releases around serverless at re:Invent 2019, AWS is listening and those gaps are closing. In particular, the enhancements they have made around Lambda startup time in VPCs has definitely helped solve one of the challenges that has been holding enterprises back.”

While the term “serverless” includes many services from multiple cloud providers, including Google and Microsoft, we’ve primarily explored data from Lambda for this report. Based on feedback, we may expand our focus in future editions.

Join the discussion on Thursday, Feb. 20, for our For the Love of Serverless Webinar and get the full report here.