Microsoft calls it Azure Functions, and it was announced this morning at the company’s Build developers conference. Microsoft also announced general availability of Azure Service Fabric, the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) that allows for stateful microservices.
Like Lambda, Azure Functions lets you run an application on whatever CPU cycles the cloud finds for you. That’s in contrast to the normal scheme of things, where an AWS or Azure user has to rent a server first, then start filling it with jobs.
The idea is to support spur-of-the-moment applications — the type that get spawned automatically in response to an alert running on some larger application, for instance. Azure Functions supports templates to help developers build these auto-deployment scenarios.
Separately, Microsoft announced that Azure Service Fabric, the company’s PaaS environment, is now available in production form.
Announced last year, Azure Service Fabric can be run as a managed service or as a separate runtime. In the latter case, the services created can be ported to other Windows Server or Linux environments, including AWS.
One of its most interesting aspects is the ability to handle stateful microservices. This means microservices’ health can be used to trigger actions in the overall service.
Scott Hanselman, a Microsoft principal program manager, demonstrated this at Build using Age of Ascent, a multiplayer space-war game that’s run on Azure. He set training drones to be born with zero health, which of course means they instantly died. (That’s the carnage in the photo up top.) The game is programmed to know that someone dying without getting shot at is a problem — so, seeing what was happening to the drone microservices, it automatically began rolling back Hanselman’s code update before it reached every active server.
Build also included a few announcements related to the Azure IoT Suite for Internet of Things development. They include Azure IoT starter kits, a device management product that’s in technical preview, and an IoT device gateway service, also in preview.