In a move to woo developers to its cloud platform, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is rolling out a compute service that not only runs developers’ code in response to events but also automatically manages the compute resources for them. Dubbed Lambda, the idea is to make it easier for devs to build and manage apps that rapidly respond to new information.
Milliseconds. That’s how long it takes AWS Lambda to start running code after events like in-app activity, an image upload, output from a connected device or a Web site click. Beyond the code runs, developers can also rely on Lambda to create new back-end services with custom requests to automatically trigger compute resources.
Since Lambda charges for compute time in increments of 100 milliseconds, AWS insists it’s affordable and easy to scale apps -- but is that enough to compete in the market?
“Amazon's new Lambda aims to cost-effectively deliver that service via the AWS cloud, but to truly succeed the company will need to attract developers to the platform,” Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told us. “If AWS can truly deliver the goods it promises, then Lambda stands a very good chance of success.”
How it Works
Here is AWS pitch for Lambda: Customers today often have use cases where applications need compute cycles in order to take action on application data change. Examples are a new image upload to Amazon Simple Storage Service, real-time stream from Amazon Kinesis, or updated data in Amazon DynamoDB.
AWS points out that customers have to manage significant compute fleets to respond to these changes, usually across availability zones, to manage, configure and scale the resources. Lambda aims to come to the rescue with a computational platform that runs functions in code in response to changes in data, without the need to provision or manage a single virtual server.
Dynamic and Event-Driven
“A longstanding goal for many businesses has been to enable ‘on-demand’ style IT where compute capacity responds and scales effectively to adapt to changing events,” King said. “There are numerous examples of this, including spikes in online shopping transactions during the holiday season, bumps in the number of viewers watching streaming versions of popular movies and TV programs, and natural events like storms that might otherwise overwhelm weather sensors that collect real time data. Numerous traditional IT vendors offer solutions for supporting on-demand computing.”
One aspect of Lambda that might help adoption is the fact that it works with any third-party library, including native ones. That means developers don’t have to learn any new languages, tools, or frameworks. And because developers can edit functions directly within AWS Lambda, they can instantly update applications without having to compile edits, build changes, and then redeploy the applications.
Netflix is among the happy customers. Retail business network SPS Commerce and real-time weather network Earth Networks are also among the early adopters.
“From years of managing a sophisticated and dynamic infrastructure, we’re excited by AWS Lambda and the prospect of an evolution in the way we build and manage our applications,” said Neil Hunt, Chief Product Officer at Netflix. “From easier media transcoding and faster monitoring, from disaster recovery to improved security and compliance, AWS Lambda promises to help us develop dynamic event-driven computing patterns.”
Posted: 2014-11-18 @ 8:57pm PT
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