Zoho has launched a platform for building applications on its cloud platform that includes a proprietary instance of a serverless computing framework running on top Kubernetes.
Tejas Gadhia, head evangelist for platform development at Zoho, says Catalyst is aimed at professional developers looking to build applications on the same backend-as-a-service (BaaS) infrastructure Zoho employs to deliver more than 45 software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications and services. To add the serverless capabilities, Zoho is adding a proprietary functions-as-a-service (FaaS) layer based on Kubernetes as an extension to its BaaS platform, he says.
Developers can choose any programming language they prefer to build applications, including Java, Node.js and Python. Alternatively, Zoho also makes available no-code and low-code tools that developers can use to build applications. In fact, Zoho notes that more than 200,000 developers have already used those tools to execute more than 26 million functions on the Zoho platform. With the launch of Catalyst, Zoho is making a FaaS built on top of a serverless computing framework more accessible to professional developers. To enable developers to invoke those serverless computing capabilities. Catalyst also provides access to web and mobile software development kits (SDKs) and application programming interfaces (APIs).
In addition, developers will be able to call microservices that either they’ve developed or Zoho has developed as a function. Zoho has already made available OCR (optical character recognition) and object detection microservices, with additional microservices including anomaly detection, predictive analytics, grammar and diction checking (powered by Zoho Writer) and document previews (powered by Zoho Docs) forthcoming.
Catalyst also provides access to sandbox environments; command-line tools that enable developers to build, test and deploy applications; performance monitoring tools; and a built-in mobile device management (MDM) platform to make it easier to host and distribute applications.
Gadhia says the primary benefit of this approach is capabilities can now be invoked via an application programming interface (API) instead of having to replicate those capabilities in every application a developer builds and deploys. The more developers rely on functions and APIs, the smaller their applications can be, as they focus most of their efforts on building application logic versus reimplementing capabilities that now can be called as a service.
The Zoho approach to application development has been to develop and manage myriad capabilities, from an embedded continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) platform to the global data centers that host its applications, on its own. However, the company will integrate its platform with third-party CI/CD platforms that may have been adopted already by some customers, notes Gadhia.
Zoho is not the only provider of cloud applications aiming to leverage functions and serverless computing frameworks to increase the amount of time developers can spend on application and business logic versus what Gadhia described as “baggage.”
It’ll be interesting to see how many developers are attracted to a platform because of the amount of code they don’t have to write. However, it’s clear the way applications are built and deployed will change utterly.