Catalyst Takes On AWS Lambda With Seamless Developer Experience

Recently, Zoho made their Serverless Computing platform Catalyst available for the public. Ever since Serverless computing has been made famous by Amazon Web Services a few years back, there are many offerings in the market targeting developers with an abstraction that makes it easy to deploy small snippets of code (a function) and scale easily to meet the traffic needs. However, not all Serverless offerings are the same in terms of developer experience. Catalyst is differentiating itself from the major cloud providers on how easy it is for the developers to deploy an application into production. With the general availability of the Catalyst Serverless Platform, developers can start using the platform right from their website. In this blog post, we will briefly discuss the unique value offered by the Catalyst platform for developers.

As vendors build higher order abstractions for deploying applications, they add more and more constraints. Platforms become more opinionated and there is a learning curve for developers. For example, to deploy applications on AWS Lambda, developers are still expected to understand how to bring together the compute (AWS Lambda) with object storage or data store and then ensure that it is protected with the right network settings. There is still an operational overhead associated with deploying applications on AWS Lambda even though it is far less than getting an application deployed on a virual machine environment or Kubernetes cluster. There is an nonexplicit expectation that the developers also have DevOps skillset to use these services. This clearly adds a barrier to entry and Catalyst is trying to close this gap by providing a comprehensive Serverless platform.

The key advantages of Catalyst platform are

  • An end to end set of services from compute to workflow to storage to AI to other backend capabilities. There is no need for developers to put together these services before deploying the apps, These are available out of the box
  • Along with event driven functions and cron functions, Catalyst makes it easy to build REST API end points for other applications or microservices to interact
  • Powerful workflows can be created seamlessly to build your complex applications
  • With support for hosting frontends, you can create a powerful web application without having to put together disparate set of services
  • A dedicated team to help you architect your applications with serverless functions, microservices and now code applications. You can learn more about this in the Modern Enterprise Podcast
  • Rich set of use cases are possible in the platform without having to worry about bringing together disparate set of cloud services. The platform also works closely with Zoho Creator, their nocode platform. This will allow small business to transform themselves digitally to meet the needs of post-Covid 19 world

Another interesting aspect of Catalyst platform is their pricing model. They make it straightforward by charging a fixed fee (which is free for light users) and an usage fee based on the number of calls and execution time. I did some quick calculations using their pricing calculator and it is pretty competitive.

While the service is a solid alternative to AWS Lambda, Azure Functions or Google Cloud Functions for all developers, small businesses and independent developers without the DevOps skills needed for using some of the Serverless platforms, will find Catalyst platform more valuable. If you want to learn more about Catalyst platform, their roadmap and more, listen to this Modern Enterprise Podcast episode I did with Giridhar Chakravarthy of Catalyst team

If you want to try out Catalyst platform, visit their homepage.

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