Google is testing out a feature that allows changes in cloud services to automatically trigger other events, making it easier for developers to build richer services.
Google describes Cloud Functions as a "lightweight, event-based, asynchronous" feature that allows developers to create small, single-purpose functions that respond to cloud events, without the need to manage a server or a runtime environment.
Cloud 'events' are things that happen in the developer's cloud environment -- changes to data in a database, files added to a storage system, or a new virtual machine instance being created, for example.
Creating a response to an event starts with 'triggers', which capture events that require action. Cloud Functions are the mechanism for responding to an event, containing the code that executes in response to a trigger in order to process an event.
As Forbes points out, this is along the same lines as Amazon's popular Lambda, which also aims to automate these types of tasks for developers to help them build richer services more quickly.
However, Google emphasised the early nature of this release: "This is an Alpha release of Google Cloud Functions. This feature might be changed in backward-incompatible ways and is not recommended for production use." Developers have to request access to the feature.
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