Twilio jumps on the serverless bandwagon

No huge surprise that developer tool vendor Twilio is launching a serverless offering.

death of the office telephone
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News from the second day of Twilio’s annual developer conference, Signal. While yesterday’s big news focused around end-user functionality (in particular speech recognition and understanding), today’s news is more down in the weeds but no less important for a company at the cutting edge of the developer experience.

You see developers are, by nature, tinkerers and like to experiment with new stuff. Sometimes this is simply professional interest, but often it’s because of an almost pathological desire to do things effectively, efficiently and elegantly. A case in point is the current developer move towards serverless technologies. First commercialized by Amazon Web Services (AWS) with its Lambda product, but now matched by offerings from the other cloud vendors, serverless approaches mean that developers don’t need to set up servers to run their applications, they can simply rely on setting triggers, logical steps and the cloud vendor takes over the rest.

Twilio is launching its own serverless offering, Functions, in an effort to further simplify the developer experience with the Twilio platform. As CEO Jeff Lawson puts it, this latest addition “empowers developers to focus on application experience rather than the web infrastructure required to run it.”

Before now, developers using the Twilio platform had to juggle the standard development approaches – they would set up, manage and secure servers. With Functions, developers can now simply provide Twilio the code for handling communications events, such as an incoming phone call or SMS message, and Twilio Functions automatically handles the provisioning of the web infrastructure required to run that code securely. Specific functionality that functions offers includes:

  • Complete runtime environment: Functions are part of Twilio Runtime, a pre-configured environment that includes helper libraries, API keys, media asset storage, debugging tools, and other resources developers need to get up and running quickly.
  • Zero operational burden: Developers can use Twilio Functions to run Twilio code without having to configure, launch, or install any additional infrastructure. Developers need only create a function using JavaScript and Twilio executes the code in a standard Node.js runtime environment.
  • Automatic Scaling: Because developers using Twilio Functions will be running code directly on Twilio, there’s no need to worry about load testing or scaling dynamics. With Twilio Functions, developers need only to write code once and the application will automatically scale, powered by the Twilio infrastructure.

Twilio Functions is now available to anyone with a Twilio account.  Pricing is free for the first ten thousand requests per month and then $0.0001 for each request after that. Twilio states why this move is important for it, a developer-led and focused company:

“Writing code is a creative endeavor,” said Patrick Malatack, Twilio VP of Product. “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!”  

MyPOV

It’s early days for serverless but there is significant interest in the approach – especially from developers. Twilio has always been developer-led and so the launch of Functions seems like a totally logical move.

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