Amazon Web Services (AWS) pushed its Serverless Application Repository platform to general availability. The platform allows users to configure and deploy serverless applications and components on AWS.
Jeff Barr, chief evangelist at AWS, noted in a blog post that the GA push followed positive reactions from an initial limited trial. That trial began late last year after AWS announced the repository at its re:Invent show.
AWS’ Lambda currently operates as a near de facto standard in terms of serverless applications, bolstered by its early push into the market. Other options in the space include platforms from Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and IBM OpenWhisk.
What it Does
The AWS repository is like a package manager that includes the underlying infrastructure description and allows for the immediate deployment of shared applications. This allows developers to more quickly build applications without having to worry about underlying infrastructure.
“You can put your serverless functions in [the repository] and allow others to reuse those functions,” explained Amazon CTO Werner Vogels at the re:Invent show.
Specifically, developers can access the functions and support from AWS’ Management Console, command line interface (CLI), and a set of APIs. It can also be used as a distribution model where a customer runs third-party functions internally, instead of other platforms where a developer relies on third-party functions as a service.
The platform uses AWS’ Serverless Application Model (SAM) to define an application that can then be distributed within an organization or to all AWS customers. SAM allows for defining Amazon Gateway APIs, Amazon DynamoDB tables, and Lambda functions that are triggered by API actions and then uploaded to Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3).
Organizations using serverless computing platforms can also save on deployment costs as applications only consume resources when they are running.
451 Research released a report last year that found a favorable total cost of ownership comparison using serverless computing versus virtual machines (VMs). Owen Rogers, research director at the analyst firm, explained VMs needed to be up and running before a function request was placed, thus an enterprise would “need to pay for that, and there is an element of waste when capacity is not being used.”
“With serverless, we don’t have this problem,” Rogers said. “It scales instantly with a request. You just need to configure the request with the function and no other concerns.”
451 Research did note that it was difficult to nail down exact costs of serverless computing. But, in general it found among the larger cloud providers, IBM was less expensive than rival services from Microsoft, Google, and AWS.
Serverless computing remains in its infancy in terms of adoption, with many observers noting more maturity is needed before organizations will feel comfortable with the platform.
Charlie Li, chief cloud officer at Capgemini, explained that market confusion has handicapped the adoption curve of serverless compared with that of containers.
“We will see in a year,” Li said. “It may even be two years before there is mass adoption of serverless. All of our clients are expressing interest in trying serverless, but outside of a few new applications being launched and some PoCs, mass adoption is still some time away.”
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