Cloudflare yesterday announced the private beta launch of Workers Unbound, the latest step in its efforts to offer a serverless platform that can compete with the likes of AWS Lambda.
The company first launched its Workers edge computing platform in late 2017. Today it has “hundreds of thousands of developers” who use it, and in the last quarter alone, more than 20,000 developers built applications based on the service, according to the company. Cloudflare also uses Workers to power many of its own services, but the first iteration of the platform had quite a few limitations. The idea behind Workers Unbound is to do away with most of those and turn it into a platform that can compete with the likes of AWS, Microsoft and Google.
“The original motivation for us building Cloudflare Workers was not to sell it as a product because we were using it as our own internal platform to build applications,” Cloudflare co-founder and CEO Matthew Prince told me ahead of today’s announcement. “Today, Cloudflare Teams, which is our fastest-growing product line, is all running on top of Cloudflare Workers and it’s allowed us to innovate as fast as we have and stay nimble and stay agile and all those things that get harder as you become a larger and larger company.”
Prince noted that Cloudflare aims to expose to third-party developers all of the services it builds for its internal consumption. “The fact that we’ve been able to roll out a whole Zscaler competitor in almost no time is because of the fact that we had this platform and we could build on it ourselves,” he said.
The original Workers service will continue to operate (but under the Workers Bundled moniker) and essentially become Cloudflare’s serverless platform for basic workloads that only run for a very short time. Workers Unbound — as the name implies — is meant for more complex and longer-running processes.
When it first launched Workers, the company said that its killer feature was speed. Today, Prince argues that speed obviously remains an important feature — and Cloudflare Workers Unbound promises that it essentially does away with cold-start latencies. But developers also adopted the platform because of its ability to scale and its price.
Indeed, Workers Unbound, Cloudflare argues, is now significantly more affordable than similar offerings. “For the same workload, Cloudflare Workers Unbound can be 75% percent less expensive than AWS Lambda, 24 percent less expensive than Microsoft Azure Functions, and 52 percent less expensive than Google Cloud Functions,” the company says in today’s press release.
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