Thursday, March 31, 2016

Azure picks up its own AWS Lambda equivalent

SAN FRANCISCO—Yesterday at its Build developer conference, the topic was Microsoft's first major platform: Windows. Today, it was the turn of the other platform, Azure, with Microsoft talking up its cloud service.

Much of the news today was that services that were previously in preview have now gone live. Azure Service Fabric was announced at last year's event, and Microsoft described it as being its second generation platform-as-a-service offering. Service Fabric was already being used to power services such as Cortana and Skype for Business, and it offers useful features such as automatic scaling and phased deployments of new versions with automatic rollback in case of problems. It's designed to allow developers to handle dozens or hundreds of both stateless and stateful microservices. Service Fabric is now in general availability, making it production ready and widely available.

The company did mention one new service: Azure Functions. This is designed to further abstract away the details of the platform. Users of Functions don't need to provision storage or compute resources or anything like that. They just write a function in C# or JavaScript (using node.js) and plumb that function into events or data sources. The resources for that function are provisioned automatically, and scaling is handled by the system. If the event volume goes up, causing the function to be triggered more often, more resources will be allocated; as volume drops, resources will be cut, possibly to zero. Functions are strictly pay-per-use, meaning that if a function isn't called, it costs nothing.

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