Microsoft answers AWS Lambda’s event-triggered serverless apps with Azure Functions

Microsoft announced it was previewing a new service today at its annual Build Developer conference that lets programmers create event-driven triggers without deploying any underlying infrastructure.

If it sounds familiar, it’s because AWS introduced a similar service called Lambda last year at re:Invent and in the tit for tat world of public cloud computing, Microsoft had to respond. Today it did, offering its own version of the service called Azure Functions.

From Microsoft’s perspective, it extends their platform as a service letting developers create event triggers in familiar languages — Java, Python, C# and php. It will work in virtually any flavor of cloud you like including Azure, third-party and private and hybrid.

Microsoft is positioning it for Internet of Things, so that when a device or sensor gives off some information, it can trigger an event and make something happen automatically.

Azure Functions demo

It’s worth noting that Google recently went to into Alpha with a similar tool (with a similar name) called Google Cloud Functions.

The idea of a serverless application has fascinated me from the moment I heard the term. Consider the idea that you can create an event trigger (or even a series of triggers, each of which stands on its own) and have the cloud service deal with whatever compute, memory and storage resources are required. The event can actually live for as little as a few milliseconds and be gone.

It puts the power to deploy these small self-contained apps into the hands of the programmers, eliminating the need for developers to pass the application over the wall to operations for deployment. It provides a way for the developers to deploy themselves because in effect, Microsoft (or another cloud provider) is acting as the operations team deploying just the right amount of resources to handle the triggering event.

Of course, this can involve multiple events going on in tandem or being triggered by triggers in a domino effect. The end result could be a constant flow of triggered activity each resulting in small billable event that could add up to big money for Microsoft.