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Does going serverless equate to spending less money? That is what researchers from 451 Research wanted to find out when they looked into serverless cloud pricing in a recent report.
According to 451 Research, which has been tracking cloud pricing trends for the past three years, for the majority of new applications, serverless offers a lower cost of ownership (TCO) than virtual machines and containers.
If you are new to the concept of serverless computing, it “means you don’t have to think about the servers that you rely on to deploy and run an application. The idea is for the servers to exist in the background, as a resource that scales up or down automatically, according to the application’s needs,” MSPmentor reports. “In essence, serverless computing is a way of taking the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) model to the extreme. Not only does serverless computing relieve you of the need to maintain your own infrastructure, but it saves you from the hassle of having to provision or administer infrastructure in any way.”
451 Research said that, “The TCO of serverless tends to be lower than VMs, even when the VM is hosting containers, because there is no need for developers to provision, configure and manage the infrastructure.”
“As an example scenario: when a serverless function is active for just three quarters of the month, it only takes a 10-minute saving in operational overhead for serverless to beat virtual machines on TCO. Even without the savings in developer time, the ability of serverless to increase utilization means it is cheaper than using VMs when the code is executed fewer than 500,000 times each month.”
Between serverless offerings from Amazon Web Services, Google, IBM and Microsoft, IBM generally is the least expensive, though Microsoft was the least expensive for certain configurations. IBM is cheapest for 0.1-second duration scripts, 451 Research’s Cloud Price Index finds, while Azure is the most cost effective for 10-second scripts.
Another note about IBM is that its serverless offering allows users to choose exact memory requirements, unlike other providers, which round up the figures and results in users paying for capacity they didn’t use.
“Serverless is more than just hype; it has the potential to transform the way we develop, build and run applications in the cloud,” Owen Rogers, research director, Digital Economics Unit at 451 Research said. “Understanding the economics of serverless technology is vital to understanding its potential to disrupt the industry. Freemium serverless offerings from the four big cloud providers are already fueling the growth of serverless services by stimulating experimentation and helping enterprises gain skills. This could lead serverless to be the next cloud price war battleground.”
451 Research notes that similarities in pricing models and offerings could drive more serverless computing price cuts this year. Rogers told ITPro recently that he also expects to see cuts continue across object storage and relational databases.
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Platform9, a startup whose Software-as-a-Service platform takes much of the pain out of using open source cloud infrastructure technologies, has raised $22 million in Series C funding. It supports frameworks like Kubernetes, OpenStack, and Fission.
The funding round was led by Canvas Ventures, along with existing investors Redpoint Ventures and Menlo Ventures, with Hewlett Packard Enterprise also participating. In 2015 Platform9 raised $10 million in Series B funding. The company says the current round will be used to scale its sales force, product and marketing teams, as well as put resources toward expanding its product line, which it calls “open source as a platform.”
“Enterprises today are racing to adopt the cloud, but struggle with managing numerous infrastructure silos, ranging from legacy virtualized data centers to pockets of public cloud deployments,” Sirish Raghuram, Platform9’s CEO, explained. “With our novel SaaS approach to complex cloud frameworks, we enable infrastructure anywhere to be easily managed using industry-leading open-source frameworks such as Kubernetes and OpenStack. Today, Platform9 is enabling DevOps, reducing costs and accelerating cloud transformation for more than 200 clouds worldwide.”
It’s easy to understand why VCs would find Platform9 an attractive investment. The company says its revenue grew by 300 percent last year, while its customer base grew by 360 percent. It also boasts a revenue retention rate of 125 percent, made possible by existing customers increasing their annual subscription. Customers utilizing the service include such names as Cadence Design, Autodesk, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Sony Playstation. In all, the company says that it has more than 60 enterprise-level customers.
“Enterprises know they have to move to the cloud sooner or later,” said Gary Little, a partner at Canvas Ventures who is now joining Platform9 as a board member. “But getting there is no small feat. Platform9 simplifies the challenge, helping companies migrate to cloud computing more quickly and cost effectively than any other solution. It also helps customers avoid being locked into a single cloud provider. That’s something that resonates with chief technology officers across industries.”
It’s also easy to understand HPE’s interest. Anything that removes roadblocks getting in the way of new cloud deployments will help sell servers, and the company doubtlessly hopes that it’s stake in the company will give it a competitive edge.
The need for a simplified method for using platforms such as OpenStack and Kubernetes isn’t difficult to grasp. Although essential for building modern and open customized clouds, the deployment and management of such systems can be daunting even for experienced developers, especially if they need to be integrated into an existing infrastructure.
SaaS running on an on-prem server might be a little less intuitive, however.
To use the service, a customer installs an agent on its servers that is then paired with a Platform9 account. Once deployed, the agent makes a connection to Platform9’s cloud-based controller to create a channel through which the service can discover information about the customer’s environment and configure that environment into an OpenStack-based private cloud.
“On creating a Platform9 private cloud for their environment, administrators can import their existing servers and workloads into Platform9 non-disruptively within minutes,” the company explains in a FAQ. “Existing storage and networking are seamlessly discovered and reported into Platform9 interface on pairing your server infrastructure with Platform9.”
The service can also integrate with any compute, storage and network infrastructure, using virtualization technologies including KVM, Docker or vSphere. In addition, public cloud deployments are not limited to a single provider, with customers free to choose between Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, or other.
“While the industry at large struggles with the complexity of running open-source frameworks such as OpenStack and Kubernetes using traditional models, we have proven beyond doubt that SaaS makes it easy to deploy, manage and maintain cloud frameworks,” Raghuram said in a blog post about the funding. “Our belief is that SaaS represents the future for consumption of all open-source cloud technologies, and we look forward to further expanding our offering, by scale and by range of services offered.”
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