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New adopters of cloud computing services marvel about the cost efficiency they’re seeing compared to their traditional infrastructure, but Microsoft Azure chief Scott Guthrie thinks a new wave of super-efficient cloud products is going to make those gains seem quaint.

Guthrie kicked off the Cloud Tech Summit earlier this month, and touched on the advent of containers and serverless technologies during a wide-ranging discussion. Microsoft and other cloud vendors have been particularly bullish on serverless technologies during 2017 as a path toward an even-more efficient cloud computing environment where you only pay for what you use.

“I certainly think the model of a very consumption driven pricing … is the direction that everything is going. This has taken consumption to the next logical extreme, where there is no overhead,” Guthrie said.

Microsoft Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie at the GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Serverless is yet another slightly misleading term for an enterprise computing tactic. Believe it or not, applications built with serverless technologies still use servers.

But the practice of breaking down applications into lots of small functions means that users don’t have to maintain excess capacity in case of spikes in demand, and that has made a lot of companies experiment with these technologies this year. Functions can be written to respond with computing resources automatically when demand grows unexpectedly, and then scale down gracefully as demand ebbs.

And although cloud tends to be cheaper than traditional on-premises hardware, containers and serverless technologies can save users even more money, Guthrie said. And when customers realize how much they can save by writing their apps with serverless technologies, they tend to ramp up quickly, which is great for Microsoft and other cloud providers.

One Azure customer using serverless technologies as part of their Internet of Things manufacturing infrastructure was able to run 1.8 billion serverless invocations a day for something like four dollars, Guthrie said. “They came to us and they were like, something’s wrong with your billing, because this can’t be right.”

And once they realized the bill was correct, they immediately started planning their next move into serverless tech, which will eventually generate real money for Microsoft.

Watch the full video of Scott’s interview with GeekWire’s Todd Bishop above, and stay tuned for more highlights from the event in the days ahead.

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