Natasha Ong
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4 min read

In a nutshell:

In a world where time is money, developers want to focus on what matters—their awesome code.
With Azure Functions, you can forget about server hassles, concentrate on your development, and only pay for what you use.
Using Azure Functions is ideal when you're only concerned about the code running your service, and not about the underlying platform or infrastructure.

What is Azure Functions?

Azure Functions might sound a bit fancy, but it's essentially a magical tool for making applications without dealing with servers, containers, or the nitty-gritty tech stuff.

So, imagine this: you want to build an app.

  • If you were doing it with Azure VMs and Azure's container sevices, you'd have to make sure those virtual machines or containers were up and running for your app to work.
  • Even if your app isn't getting used, you need to maintain your containers and VMs.
  • This means installing an operating system, downloading system updates, and checking up on whether they're performing well.
  • Not super fun stuff, when you just want to get into developing your app and get it out to the world!

With Azure Functions, simply upload your code and you get it running right away. No need to set up VMs or containers or worry about how to manage scaling!

Key words to know

Azure Functions often gets described with key phrases that really show why people love it. Let's take a look.

  • Serverless compute: Serverless computing is a bit of a misleading name, because there are, in fact, servers being used. But the responsibility of managing servers is already handled for you. You can take your mind off of infrastructure work and focus on developing.
  • Event-driven: With Azure Functions, your app only comes to life when it needs to. It's like a snoozing helper that wakes up only when it's needed, saving you the time and money you'd spend on keeping VMs or containers running all the time. In other words, Azure Functions performs works in response to events, and these events could be a timer going off, a trigger from another Azure service, or a user doing something on your application.
  • Pay for what you use: Azure Functions runs your code when it's triggered and automatically deallocates resources when the function is finished. In this model, you're only charged for the CPU time used while your function runs.
  • Automatic scaling: Functions scale automatically based on demand, so they may be a good choice when demand is variable.
  • Stateless vs stateful: There are two types of Functions! When they're stateless (the default option), they don't have any memory of the past events or tasks they've done. Every time it's asked to do something, it starts fresh, as if it's the first time they're doing it. Stateful functions remember past actions and build on that knowledge, such as an online shopping cart that remembers what you've added and puts it all together when you check out.
  • Flexibility to grow: Azure Functions aren't just for beginners; they can grow with you. If your app's needs change, you can deploy it in a non-serverless environment. It's up to you!