Azure Service Fabric and the Evolution of the Microservices PaaS
A few months ago, Microsoft announced the general availability of the Azure service Fabric: a new platform for developing and running microservices. Functionally, Azure Service Fabric provides some of the most common building blocks of microservices solutions such as the modeling and implementation of stateless-stateful services, messaging, persistence, stateless-stateful actors, service discovery among other relevant capabilities.
The release of the Azure Service Fabric marks an important milestone in the evolution of cloud microservices architectures. At the moment, azure service Fabric is the only platform among the top PaaS -AWS, Azure, Bluemix, Google Cloud- that provides an end to end infrastructure for building and operating microservices. Some experts are considering the Azure Service Fabric the foundation for the next version of Microsoft Azure and the model the framework for the next generation PaaS.
If we analyze the evolution of microservices capabilities across the major PaaS we can come up with the following timeline
Container Services — — -> Lambda Functions — — -> Microservices Platforms — — -> ?
Winner: Google Cloud
AWS, Azure, Bluemix and Google Cloud have all released services for deploying and managing containers such as Docker or Rocket. Google Cloud has been particularly innovative in this area with the incubation of platforms like Kubernetes that have become some of the most important building blocks of the container ecosystem. One aspect that adds credibility to Google Cloud’s container offering is the fact that Google itself has been running containers at scale for years.
Winner: AWS Lambda
Lambda functions is a generic cloud term to designate a micro-container responsible for running an atomic function. Azure Functions, Bluemix OpenWhisk, Google Functions and AWS Lambda represent some of the main technologies in the space. Even though some of these technologies look very similar in terms of capabilities, AWS Lambda is the undisputed leader in the space in terms of market traction.
Winner: Azure Service Fabric
While Lambda Functions and Containers are certainly relevant building blocks of microservices architectures, they are not sufficient to implement sophisticated microservices solutions. Other functional areas such as service authoring, discovery, data persistence, messaging, etc are common citizens in microservices solutions. The Azure Service Fabric is the first technology among the PaaS providers that provides an end-to-end experience for the development and management of microservices. If successful, the Azure Service Fabric is likely to become the foundation for new services in the Azure platform. Today technologies like SQL Azure are already leveraging Service Fabric as its underlying stack. From that perspective, technologies such as the Azure Service Fabric are called to become a core element of the next generation PaaS.