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Microsoft announces serverless event routing service to connect applications

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Microsoft has made another move to capitalize on the burgeoning trend of serverless computing, with the announcement of a new cloud service designed to help companies build applications that act in response to events. Called Event Grid, the new service provides a tool that facilitates the passing of event data between applications and allows those applications to act more intelligently in response.

It’s essentially a piece of connective tissue that aims to connect applications to one another without requiring developers to operate those connections themselves. It works by taking in events from a set number of sources and categorizing them under certain topics. Other applications can then subscribe to those topics, and Event Grid will route the event information to them.

An event is just a bundle of information written in JSON that includes some metadata about its source, when it originated, and a unique identifier. Other information depends on what service created the event, so a notice about new files in Azure Storage would include details about the file, for example.

Companies pay for the service based on how many million operations it handles every month. During its preview phase, Event Grid will cost 30 cents per million operations, with that price doubling once the service is generally available. Right now, eight services can initiate an Event Grid event, including Azure Functions, Azure Blob Storage, and Microsoft’s Logic Apps service. The company is working to enable more services later this year.

All of this is designed to make it easier for companies to operate applications in a “serverless” manner — driven by events and only executed on the fly when needed. Developers can simply set Event Hub up to route events and don’t need to worry about what servers it uses to operate when those events trigger.

That dovetails well with Microsoft’s existing serverless offerings, like Azure Functions, which lets developers write small snippets of code that execute in response to events that come in.

It’s a move by Microsoft to compete with other major cloud providers, like Amazon Web Services, which has been pushing its own portfolio of serverless offerings led by AWS Lambda, an event-driven compute platform.

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