JS Foundation Aims to Accelerate Serverless Computing Adoption

Most implementations of serverless computing frameworks are based on an event-driven architecture that is itself based on microservices enabled by containers. The JS Foundation is now moving to make those frameworks more accessible to developers writing code in JavaScript by unifying the efforts of two existing projects.

The first is an architect project that enables provisioning and deployment of serverless cloud infrastructure by employing a simple plain text manifest file to create, for example, functions, routes, DNS, static assets and databases, without having to embed infrastructure configuration data into a revision control system. The second project, dubbed Marko, provides a user interface (UI) library to provide JavaScript developers with a component-based development model.

Developed by eBay, that UI library is optimized for building applications on high-traffic websites that in the future are likely to rely more on serverless computing frameworks.

Kris Borchers, executive director of the JS Foundation, says his group is now starting to focus more on serverless computing frameworks to enable developers that have mastered various forms of JavaScript to incorporate serverless computing frameworks without having to master another programming language.

There is ongoing debate over whether developers will prefer to employ functional programming languages developed specifically for serverless computing frameworks or simply invoke those platforms with the programming languages they already know. Over time, both use cases are likely to be employed. But Borchers notes there are many developers that rely on JavaScript in the main to build all their applications.

Borchers says the JS Foundation expects serverless computing frameworks to have a profound impact on JavaScript applications. The challenge—and opportunity—will be making it possible to invoke those frameworks in a frictionless way as possible to build web and mobile applications that no longer are bound by a specific amount of compute resources allocated to them, says Borchers.

In fact, Borchers notes, one of the primary benefits of the approach the JS Foundation is pursuing is that it eliminates the need for a developer to know anything about the underlying cloud service that is being invoked. As far as the developer is concerned, the architect software truly turns all the underlying infrastructure into code regardless of cloud service provider, he says.

The general expectation is that serverless computing frameworks will be invoked to process stateless application workloads, while containers will continue to be used to process stateful applications. That shift alters much of the initial conventional thinking about containers because early on they were employed to build relatively simple stateless applications. As more stateless applications transition to serverless computing frameworks, developers are now gaining more confidence in their ability to build stateful cloud-native applications using a variety of programming languages and tools.

The coming year will bear witness to a much fiercer contest between multiple open source serverless computing frameworks and proprietary options such as the AWS Lambda service from Amazon Web Services (AWS). As the largest provider of public cloud services, AWS has already jumped out to an early lead. But rival cloud service providers are betting that more open approaches to serverless computing that can support multiple programming languages will ultimately prevail.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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