IBM today made its serverless computing platform named OpenWhisk – which is also an open source project – generally available in the company’s BlueMix cloud.
Serverless computing is one of the most discussed emerging technologies in the IaaS public cloud market, so IBM making its flagship serverless product generally available marks a milestone for the technology.
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The idea of serveless is slightly nebulous: Developers write applications that are deployed on to the cloud, but they don’t have to provision any infrastructure resources to run them. No virtual machines instances to choose from or operating systems to spin up. Instead, the serverless computing platform responds to event triggers: if a user does one thing, then the serverless computing platform will execute a function and do another. Think of an app that is programmed to automatically grab weather forecast data each time a user clicks a button, or a system that automatically resizes or reformats images uploaded to a database.
Amazon Web Services was first to the market with this technology when it released Lambda last year. IBM with OpenWhisk and Microsoft with Azure Functions soon followed.
In addition to GA’ing OpenWhisk, IBM also announced a handful of customers it says are using OpenWhisk atop its cloud, headlined by European bank Santander Group. “OpenWhisk provides the instant infrastructure we need for intense tasks and unexpected peaks in workload, and is a key building block as we move to a real-time and event-driven architecture,” Luis Enriquez, Head of Platform Engineering and Architecture at Santander Group is quoted as saying in a press release announcing OpenWhish’s GA. It adds that Santander is designing and testing new apps using OpenWhisk. IBM also names Netherlands-based startup SiteSpirit, LogitBot (a New York based financial technologies firm) and Altoros, a software consulting firm as OpenWhisk customers.
With the GA launch, IBM has added new features to OpenWhisk, including support for runtime languages Java, Node v6, Python and Swift v3, an integration with BlueMix’s MessageHub real-time streaming platform and an extension for Visual Studio code.
Microsoft announced the GA of Azure Functions last month. At its AWS re:Invent conference earlier this month Amazon made a number of advancements to Lambda, including new support for the C# programming language, and a way to execute Lambda functions in the company’s CloudFront content delivery network (CDN).