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Zeit, the organization behind the cloud deployment software Now, yesterday launched Serverless Docker in beta. The concept was first discussed by the Zeit team at Zeit Day 2018 back in April, but it’s now available to use and promises to radically speed up deployments for engineers.

In a post published on the Zeit website yesterday, the team listed some of the key features of this new capability, including:

  • An impressive 10x-20x improvement in cold boot performance (in practice this means cold boots can happen in less than a second
  • A new slot configuration property that defines resource allocation in terms of CPU and Memory, allowing you to fit an application within the set of constraints that are most appropriate for it
  • Support for HTTP/2.0 and WebSocket connections to deployments, which means you no longer need to rewrite applications as functions.

The key point to remember with this release, according to Zeit, is that  “Serverless can be a very general computing model. One that does not require new protocols, new APIs and can support every programming language and framework without large rewrites.”

Read next: Modern Cloud Native architectures: Microservices, Containers, and Serverless – Part 1

What’s so great about Serverless Docker?

Clearly, speed is one of the most exciting things about serverless Docker. But there’s more to it than that – it also offers a great developer experience.

Johannes Schickling, co-founder and CEO of Prisma (a GraphQL data abstraction layer) said that, with Serverless Docker, Zeit “is making compute more accessible. Serverless Docker is exactly the abstraction I want for applications.”

Others on Twitter were also complimentary about Serverless Docker’s developer experience – with one person comparing it favourably with AWS – “their developer experience just makes me SO MAD at AWS in comparison.”

Combining serverless and containers

One of the reasons people are excited about Zeit’s release is that it provides the next step in serverless.

But it also brings containers into the picture too. Typically, much of the conversation around software infrastructure over the last year or so has viewed serverless and containers as two options to choose from rather than two things that can be used together.

It’s worth remembering that Zeit’s product has largely been developed alongside its customers that use Now. “This beta contains the lessons and the experiences of a massively distributed and diverse user base, that has completed millions of deployments, over the past two years.”

Eager to demonstrate how Serverless Docker works for a wide range of use cases, Zeit has put together a long list of examples of Serverless Docker in action on GitHub. You can find them here.

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Co-editor of the Packt Hub. Interested in politics, tech culture, and how software and business are changing each other.


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