Application Development Partners: Introduction to serverless computing

Jonathan Gardner, Technology Solutions Professional, Application Development

Recently, there has been industry buzz about the topic of serverless computing. Serverless computing is a natural evolution of the cloud computing model. It reflects the desire for IT to change from a cost center to an innovation center. With serverless computing, the compute stack is managed and only the code necessary for completing the desired task is managed by the customer. The term serverless computing is also known as Function as a Service.

With Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), the hosting provider manages the virtualization hosts, but the customer is responsible for managing the virtual machines that are running on it. With Platform as a Service (PaaS), the virtual host and the virtual machine are both managed by the provider. The customer is responsible for some of the settings and getting the code or information set on the service. With Function as a Service, the hosting provider manages all the settings and execution parameters. The customer is responsible only for the code to complete the task they are trying to accomplish. With these, there is a shift in responsibility for the successful completion of a task or service. With IaaS, the customer is largely responsible for the environment necessary to host the service. In FaaS, the hosting provider is responsible.

Microsoft offers two serverless computing experiences that I’ll cover in this post and that we’ll discuss in more depth on the April 4 community call: Microsoft Azure Logic Apps and Microsoft Azure Functions.

Microsoft Azure Logic Apps

I have heard Microsoft Azure Logic Apps described as IFTTT for the enterprise, a description that’s not off the mark. Logic Apps is a hosted service that enables service integration between sources on-premises, in the cloud, social, and enterprise. Logic Apps boasts a powerful visual workflow interface that can also integrate into any DevOps workflow through code deployment.

Logic Apps includes cloud based connectors to services including Salesforce, Office 365, Twitter, Dropbox, and Google Services. Its ability to connect with data on-premises and to business-to-business and enterprise messaging services including EDIFACT, X12, and AS2 make Logic Apps a powerful integration tool. Customers that already have investments in BizTalk Server can connect to SaaS applications and integrate with cloud-based processes.

Microsoft Azure Functions

Where Logic Apps provides a host of different predefined connections, Microsoft Azure Functions gives flexibility in language support. Azure Functions supports JavaScript, C#, F#, Python, PHP, Bash, Batch, and PowerShell. The variety of languages allows developers to use the tool of their choice to accomplish their task. The Azure Functions website provides common scenarios, all reflecting a shift in the development architecture to microservices. The service includes connections to SaaS services and the enterprise connections you would expect from Microsoft. The autoscale nature of Functions provides a platform for customers to host processes that will automatically scale as necessary, while paying only for the time necessary to execute.

Serverless Applications with Azure Functions and Logic Apps – Part 1

Watch this video online

The partner opportunity

The promise of serverless computing is very appealing to customers. Less management and a pricing model that charges for only the compute cycles necessary to complete the task means a higher business value. The fast deployment lifecycle means that companies can innovate faster, in line with how DevOps can deliver value faster. 

Beyond implementation, serverless computing may offer partners a way to capitalize faster on their cloud IP to realize higher profit margins, by reducing the amount of code necessary to deploy a solution. I recommend the Cloud Application Development Playbook to learn more about packaging IP for better profitability.

Community call about serverless computing on April 4

Join me on the next Application Developer Partner call for an in-depth discussion about serverless computing.

Application Development Partner Community

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