Amazon Web Services (AWS) threw more support behind its Lambda serverless computing platform, which has been the impetus for much of the recent push around the market segment.
The update includes the launch of its Serverless Application Repository that is designed to support publishing, discovery, and deployment of serverless-based functions. The repository is like a package manager that includes the underlying infrastructure description and allows for the immediate deployment of shared applications.
“You can put your serverless functions in [the repository] and allow others to reuse those functions,” explained Amazon CTO Werner Vogels at this week’s AWS re:Invent show.
Developers can access the functions and support from AWS’ Management Console, command line interface (CLI), and a set of application programming interfaces (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. Jeff Barr, chief evangelists at AWS, in a blog post explained that 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).
Serverless applications can also use third-party libraries that use an open source license approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI).
Vogels also said AWS’ Lambda platform would now support the Golang programming language. Golang, which is also referred to as simply “Go,” was created by Google and has become popular with developers focused on serverless computing.
Nate Taggart, CEO at Stackery, said he thought the platform might be useful for larger enterprises “where multiple teams need to run largely similar services.” Stackery is a serverless computing platform provider that is part of the Lambda ecosystem, though Taggart said he did not think the company would take advantage of the repository in its current form.
Taggart explained there are some limiting factors to the repository – like open source requirements – that “make me skeptical of its viability as stated.”
Taggart said one potential downside is the reliance on the SAM format, which could limit adoption by those using alternate formats. He noted other options included CloudFormation, Terraform, and Apex.
“While Amazon seems determined to make SAM a standard in the market, in reality it’s not,” Taggart said. “This product is already up against a significant challenge in recruiting a massive community to build value and gravity to attract more projects and developers – by limiting involvement to SAM format, open source projects seems likely to cripple that goal.”
However, Taggart did note it was still very early in the development process and that he was excited about what the move could mean for broader open source distribution.
“It presents a new way of sharing open source projects that goes beyond exposing code and instead packages projects as ready-to-implement software products, complete with infrastructure,” Taggart said. “I’d love a future serverless world where I can browse open source serverless projects and immediately deploy them into my own AWS account to be up and running in minutes.”
AWS’ Lambda currently operates as a near de facto standard in terms of serverless applications. Other options in the space include platforms from Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and IBM OpenWhisk.