In the continuing evolution of IT infrastructure, we have seen, over the past decade, a constant stream of new technological advances. Turn your mind back a decade ago and physical hardware – be it x86 servers or even older mainframes, was the name of the game. And then virtualization came about and, all of a sudden, we got way greater efficiencies for our infrastructure. The cloud drove even better economics until containers were reawakened from their slumber and got the world excited all over again. Flavor de jour today is serverless, the next step in that progression and a development whereby we don’t even have to think about servers – be they physical or virtual – when building and running our applications.

Serverless gained popularity when Amazon Web Services (AWS) introduced its Lambda serverless offering a few years ago – since then Google (with Cloud Functions) and Microsoft (with Azure Functions) have followed suit. And serverless is a pretty cool idea – being able to trigger actions based on particular inputs, without having to think about spinning up servers is the next step in tying cost to outputs. But most of the popular serverless frameworks are proprietary to the cloud platforms upon which they’re built – there’s a couple of open serverless initiatives – from the likes of IBM and Oracle, but nothing yet has really taken hold.

So imagine how great it would be if the benefits of serverless could be decoupled from any vendor lock-in (perceived or actual). This is what LunchBadger (and really, what sort of a name is that? I know all the cool names have been taken, and people are resorting to some fairly weird choice but… LunchBadger?), a serverless microservices platform and Joyent, the Samsung-owned pen cloud company, are teaming up to deliver. The two have partnered to support servers applications that run in multi-cloud environments. And those who spend their days looking at the economics of cloud computing (yes, dear readers, there are people who are so-employed) are bullish. Owen Rogers, probably the most respected cloud economics analyst, sets it out when he says that:

Analysis from the Cloud Price Index has found serverless is poised to drive TCO savings for enterprises as a result of improved labor efficiency and scalability. A multi-cloud approach to serverless, such as this partnership between Joyent and LunchBadger, has the potential to further drive cost-savings, while avoiding lock-in to any single cloud provider. The Cloud Price Index previously found a multi-cloud approach to delivering applications could save 74% on direct costs as opposed to sticking to a single cloud provider.

Cost benefits from serverless added to cost benefits from multi-cloud. Nirvana, right?

Well, kind of. Indeed, I had a Twitter conversation last week with someone who wanted to get my take on another analyst’s fear-inducing view that there should be mass concern about cloud lock-in. That struck me as missing the point entirely and I replied, as is my tendency:


Look, if you want serverless, and you’re worried about being tied into a cloud vendor, then maybe this is for you. But, without any criticism of LunchBadger, Joyent or their respective offerings, that is, in my view, the wrong lens to be looking at this through. As Corey Sanders, the erudite and debonair head of all things lightweight cloud at Microsoft likes to say (well, he said it once, but I like to repeat) – lock-in isn’t a problem if it’s lock-in by love. That is to say if an organization is realizing huge value out of a platform, then their ability or otherwise to move from the platform is somewhat irrelevant, they don’t want to shift because of the value they’re seeing.

It’s like the cloud economics question – with no disrespect to Owen Rogers who is, after all, the holder of a very shiny Ph.D., the cost is kind of irrelevant in my view. Moving to the cloud to save money is the wrong approach, moving to the cloud because it unlocks agility and innovation is absolutely the right way to look at it.

So best of luck to LunchBadger and Joyent, but while you’re trying to worry people about lock-in, they’re busy building world-class businesses while, allegedly, remaining locked into one or other platform.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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