Apr 2016

Azure Functions should change the way you think about business apps in the cloud

There were a lot of really interesting, sexy and exciting announcements from Microsoft’s Build 2016 conference last week.  However, there is one that I think is truly transformational and it has been largely overshadowed by the more glamourous topics like bots, HoloLens and the upcoming Windows 10 Anniversary update.

It’s a real game-changer – a very cost efficient way to move business apps to the cloud.

Azure Functions is something that any organisation looking to move business applications into the cloud needs to be aware of.  General thinking has been that to drive cost efficiency in the cloud an organisation needs to move as many of their business applications to Platform as a Service (PaaS) or Software as a Service (SaaS) and reduce their Infrastructure as a Service footprint.  Azure Functions takes PaaS to the next level.  Quite simply, it is code hosted in the cloud that responds to events – and you only pay for the compute time used to execute the code, down to tiny fractions of a second.  If this particular code is something that brings in money for your business, then effectively you are only incurring the cost to host and run the code at the point in time you are generating revenue.

Admittedly this concept is not a Microsoft invention.  Amazon Web Services have had a similar service called Lambda for a while, and it has quickly become one of their fastest growing services.

What sets Azure Functions above Lambda to my mind is the development languages that are supported.  Both Lambda and Azure Functions support Node.js (that’s Javascript to most of us) and Python.

However in addition, Azure Functions supports PHP, one of the most prevalent languages used in web applications. It is the ‘P’ in what is referred to as the LAMP stack (Linux Apache, MySQL and PHP), and C# – which has an enormous footprint in existing in-house line of business applications.   What’s more, Azure Functions also supports common scripting languages like Bash, Batch and PowerShell.

In short there are millions of developers across many platforms that have the skills required to leverage Azure Functions and there are many, many applications already in use in businesses that are written in languages supported by Azure Functions today.

The significance is that for many businesses, the path for moving line of business applications to a very cost efficient delivery model just got a whole lot shorter.

Azure Functions should change the way you think about your business applications in the cloud.



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