Serverless computing is no more a buzzword. It has become a first-class citizen of the cloud alongside virtual machines and containers. Serverless Inc., a Bay Area-based startup realized the potential of serverless computing back in 2015 when the only prominent serverless platform was AWS Lambda.
Last week, Serverless Inc. announced that it had raised $10 million in Series A funding from Lightspeed Ventures. Including the seed round, the company has raised a total of $13 million.
Austen Collins, CEO and Founder of Serverless Inc., saw the opportunity in creating an open source tool to simplify application development targeting AWS Lambda. What started as an abstraction to Lambda transformed into a cloud-agnostic serverless platform supporting all major serverless environments.
Serverless developer community loves the framework and tools shipped by Austen’s team. Apart from getting featured on the home page of Hacker News several times, this open source project on Github gathered about 25000 stars which a remarkable feat for an independent open source project.
Within a short span of time, Austen’s framework has become an unofficial standard for serverless tooling. Every major serverless platform debuts with support for Serverless Framework. From Google Cloud Functions and more recent Kubeless, almost all the major environments are supported by this framework.
So, what excites developers about Serverless Framework? It’s the simplified approach to building modern applications based on integrated tooling.
Unlike other application development and deployment patterns, serverless platforms are highly distributed. For building a simple web or mobile app, developers will have to assemble a variety of resources ranging from an API Gateway to object storage to an event-driven messaging service. They have to connect the dots across a variety of cloud services making deployment and debugging very complicated. Serverless Framework is one of the first toolkits that aims to simplify the lifecycle of microservices targeting serverless environments.
Recently, Serverless Inc. announced an end-to-end platform that comprises of the framework, a visual dashboard and a cloud-agnostic event gateway. At the core of the platform is the popular Serverless Framework that provides a declarative mechanism to deploy and manage functions. The Dashboard enables developers and operators to monitor, collaborate and secure serverless applications. The Event Gateway offers integration infrastructure by connecting serverless applications and functions to existing workloads and cloud services.
Serverless Platform attempts two things – plugging the gaps existing within mainstream serverless environments and delivering a consistent workflow. This approach minimizes the risk of adopting serverless environments for enterprises. I feel the uniqueness of Serverless Platform lies in its platform-independent approach. In its current form, it supports AWS, Azure, IBM Cloud, GCP and Kubeless among other environments. Developers follow the same workflow to manage the application lifecycle irrespective of the deployment target.
Serverless Inc., boasts of impressive clientele. EA Sports, Coca-Cola, Nordstrom, Expedia and Reuters are some of the big brands using the framework. The company has set an example for other startups aspiring to build an open source platform that enjoys the attention of the developer community while being highly relevant to enterprise customers.
Serverless computing and Functions as a Service (FaaS) are in their infancy. The market is extremely fragmented with dozens of services and tools. The industry has no standard for eventing, messaging, function declaration, versioning, deployment, monitoring and logging.
The container world is equally excited about the convergence of Kubernetes and FaaS. Multiple projects claim to deliver serverless capabilities on Kubernetes.
CNCF, the custodian of Kubernetes and related projects, is working on standardizing some of the building blocks of the serverless platform. The serverless working group at CNCF recently proposed a standard called CloudEvents for exchanging messages across functions. But, it has a long way to go before the vendors accept it as a standard.
With the fragmentation and complexity revolving around serverless computing, companies such as Serverless Inc., have a massive opportunity in building tools that aim to make developers productive in building modern applications.