Twilio Functions lets developers build communications apps without having to worry about servers

Twilio is getting into the serverless game today with the beta launch of Twilio Functions. Like other so-called “serverless” platforms, Functions abstracts away all of the tiresome server and infrastructure management and scaling and allows developers to focus on building their event-driven applications.

“Writing code is a creative endeavor,” said Patrick Malatack, Twilio VP of Product, in today’s announcement. “The developers and businesses building cloud communications apps should be focusing on the customer experience, not managing servers. Fueling the future of communications starts with unleashing developer creativity, and that’s exactly what Twilio Functions was designed to do. We can’t wait to see what developers build next!”

So instead of having to set up and maintain the infrastructure (or scale it as demand grows), developers can use functions to run their code on Twilio’s platform whenever a new SMS message comes in, for example. To do this, developers have to write their code in JavaScript and Twilio then executes it in a standard Node.js environment that runs on Twilio’s infrastructure.

To be honest, the term “serverless” is one of my least favorite buzzwords right now (it’s right up there with “hyperconverged”). While it captures the fact that it abstracts away all the underlying infrastructure, the programming model is more about triggering code execution based on incoming events.

The other promise of this event-driven model is that you only pay for the compute resources you actually use. For Functions, this means that the first 10,000 requests to Functions are free. After that, you pay $0.0001 for each request. You also can use the service to host static files. The pricing model here is the same, with 10,000 free requests and a price of $0.0001 per request after that.

All of this runs in the Twilio Runtime, which comes with helper libraries, API keys, preconfigured assets and debugging tools.