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Serverless explainer: The next generation of cloud infrastructure

Brandon Butler | April 4, 2017
Serverless computing is a new way of hosting applications on infrastructure that end users do not manage.

Microsoft Azure has the same prices for its Azure Functions product, which the company made generally available in November, 2016. Google Functions is in beta and provides up to 2 million requests for free each month, with slightly more expensive per-transaction costs but lower compute rates. IBM does not explicitly list pricing for OpenWhisk, but Heredia, the OpenWhisk executive, says the big differentiator for IBM’s serverless computing platform is that it’s open source, hosted in the Apache Software Foundation. In theory, that gives customers the ability to run the OpenWhisk code wherever they want.

There are also a handful of startups in the market attempting to offer serverless computing platforms, components and management tooling. Perhaps the most well known is named which provides a serverless computing platform based off of Docker containers.

Lowery, the Gartner analyst, says the market is so young that there are not yet winners and losers. But, AWS has had a product on the market generally available for the longest period of time. The real key, he says, is determining what the serverless system will be used for. FaaS can be a powerful tool for “gluing” together various services within a specific vendor’s cloud. On the other hand, other Internet of Things event-driven use cases may not be as tied to a specific vendor’s cloud.


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