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An overview of Microsoft Azure Event Grid. (Microsoft Image)

A key part of Microsoft’s strategy for serverless computing is ready for prime time.

Azure Event Grid, first announced last August, is now generally available, Microsoft is expected to announce Tuesday. Azure Event Grid gives developers a way to manage serverless computing, one of the more promising cloud computing technologies heading into the end of the decade.

There are plenty of servers involved in serverless computing; the name comes from the notion that developers don’t need to know anything about the underlying hardware on which their apps will run, a big shift in software development tactics. Cloud providers manage that hardware for them, and developers write simple commands around events — say, a user uploads a photo — and functions, instructions that can be issued following those events.

Cutting-edge infrastructure architects are intrigued by serverless computing because it allows you to bill your cloud provider by the second, rather than the hour. It also allows you to easily deal with sudden spikes in demand, since functions can be written to anticipate a spike rather than having to have an operations engineer on call to notice a surge of interest and act accordingly.

Azure Event Grid allows people who have bet on serverless technology to manage the array of functions needed to make this work, said Corey Sanders, head of product for Azure compute. With a little modification, the product can be used with both Microsoft’s Azure Functions and functions services from other cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services’ popular Lambda service, he said.

And if you’re still using older development techniques — which the vast majority of tech shops are — Azure Event Grid gives you a way to reap the benefits of an event-driven setup without having to fully embraces functions. Companies using Azure Event Grid can basically have their applications subscribe to various events that would be helpful to track, even if those applications weren’t written with serverless techniques.

The top users of Azure Event Grid during the beta period were companies automating IT infrastructure around events and those heavily involved in internet-of-things applications, Sanders said. In an interview last year, Microsoft Azure CTO Mark Russinovich told GeekWire that serverless computing and edge computing are two complementary emerging technologies, and that’s playing out with early users of Azure Event Grid.

Signifying its graduation to general availability, Azure Event Grid now comes with a service-level agreement guaranteeing 99.99 percent availability, just short of the fabled “5 9s” promise enterprise computing vendors like to make about their flagship products. The service will also be available in more regions than it was during the beta period.

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