Microsoft is making a big bet on serverless technologies this year, and it continued that push Wednesday with the release of Azure Event Grid, a new service for managing serverless app development.
Azure Event Grid is, as the name suggests, centered around “events,” which are a key part of serverless computing. It gives Azure users plunging into serverless computing strategies a better way to manage the complicated sprawl of events across various Azure services, said Corey Sanders, director of Azure Compute.
Serverless computing is based around the idea that developers shouldn’t have to consider hardware infrastructure at all when constructing apps. Instead, they can write applications based around “functions,” which carry out a predetermined sequence of instructions tied to a particular “event.” Events — like when a new piece of content is uploaded to storage, or someone clicks on a link within an app — are the trigger for functions, and app developers can subscribe to events in order to trigger actions within their applications.
The key to Azure Event Grid is that it treats the events themselves as a first-class object, Sanders said. That means that events aren’t dependent on other services, which means developers have much more flexibility in terms of how they define and provision events.
“We think it’s going to be a significant improvement to doing very fast and easy serverless operations,” Sanders said.
Applications built around the internet of things mindset are very receptive to this development strategy, Sanders said. Consider a sensor placed somewhere in a huge farm: developers can use Azure Event Grid to build serverless farming applications that react to changes in temperature, humidity, or other environmental factors (events) with automated responses, such as changes in the watering cycle, based on relevant criteria.
The other big benefit of this development technique is cost. Serverless applications consume computing resources in extremely short bursts, and they can be tracked down to the second, which means you only pay for the computing resources you consume by the second. Other cloud services charge by the hour or minute, which means you can be paying quite a bit of money for resources you only need for a fraction of that interval.
Amazon Web Services is considered the leader in serverless technology, thanks to the early introduction of Amazon Lambda, but Microsoft has invested a lot of time and money in improving its serverless story this year.