DigitalOcean Acquires Serverless Platform Provider Nimbella; Eyes Integrated Platform by Mid-2022

DigitalOcean is looking to make serverless computing and FaaS easier for developers with the acquisition of startup Nimbella. IDN looks at DigitalOcean’s vision, and how it will incorporate the Nimbella Serverless Platform.  

Tags: API, apps, developers, DigitalOcean, FaaS, Nimbella, serverless,

DigitalOcean is expanding its PaaS offering, with an eye to deepen its support for serverless and function-as-a-service (FaaS) with the acquisition of Nimbella.  


The deal is seem as being a boon to developers eyeing serverless, especially those in small and mid-sized businesses, according to executives.


DigitalOcean’s acquisition of the Nimbella Service Platform comes as DigitalOcean's CEO Yancey Spruill called serverless computing "the next evolution of cloud" because it removes much of the need for developers to manage complex infrastructure.


"People want to access the benefits of serverless capabilities without a significant learning curve and they want functionality and pricing that is easy to understand and predictable. Nimbella provides all of this with the same simplicity and open source software standards that are core value propositions for DigitalOcean," Spruill added.


Nimbella CEO Anshu Agarwal noted that combining with DigitalOcean brings developers more options for simplicity when it comes to dealing with infrastructure.


"We are looking forward to integrating the Nimbella serverless platform with DigitalOcean's core services and products and empowering developers and SMBs to build and scale their cloud applications and APIs with the same ease and simplicity they have come to expect from DigitalOcean.”

Growing Momentum for Serverless

Serverless computing has been attracting much attention in recent years because of its components which reduce operational complexity in cloud-native environments.

As DigitalOcean's Spruill described in his recent blog:

Serverless computing is a popular trend in cloud application development and promises a lot of benefits to developers and teams building software. Some of these benefits are freedom from server management, virtually infinite instant scale, and paying only for what you use. 


However, adopting serverless technologies can come at a price—it can be harder to adapt existing applications to serverless architecture, current serverless platforms support primarily stateless workloads, and the pricing models are hard to understand and can surprise you with unexpected bills. 

"Our mission has been clear since the beginning—to build a serverless platform that unlocks the power and capabilities of the cloud for developers of all skill sets. This, in turn, allows new applications and APIs to be created faster, more securely and more economically. Joining DigitalOcean provides us a tremendous opportunity to accelerate this vision," Agarwal added in a statement.


Early this year, Nimbella was named a Strong Performer in The Forrester Wave™: Function-As-A-Service Platforms, Q1 2021.

Nimbella Approach and Architecture to ‘Serverless Made Easy’

Nimbella is a cloud-native software stack that delivers a runtime environment for serverless and containerized applications. It is a full-stack platform that can be deployed either on dedicated infrastructure, private or public clouds. 


Nimbella builds on Kubernetes and Apache OpenWhisk, both of which are mature production-ready open source projects. Nimbella supports the needs of event-based and long-running applications and more complex use cases that utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning.


While Nimbella utilizes Kubernetes as part of its foundation, it can also run on bare metal. 


The Nimbella platform administers the underlying components, including storage management, capacity provisioning, auto-scaling, identity management, monitoring, and logging. "We are constantly adding new capabilities and currently we are working on including rich integration with event and streaming sources," Nimbella's Agarwal added. 


Nimbella's main components include: 


Serverless foundation: Nimbella extends Apache OpenWhisk to provide an underlying serverless foundation. OpenWhisk is a popular open source platform for serverless computing, with proven adoption at enterprise firms including IBM, Adobe and others. 


Developer Workbench: Nimbella offers an advanced terminal that allows developers to enjoy the same cloud experience from their desktop to the browser. The Workbench complements IDEs and has powerful plugins to enhance the development experience significantly. It also enables "live" local development of full-stack applications so that users can test directly in the cloud.


Operator Dashboard: Nimbella is available as a hosted service and as a one-click deployment for private clouds and dedicated infrastructure. The Operator Dashboard provides one interface to manage and monitor all platform resources. It is aimed at enterprise operators who want to oversee their own Nimbella platforms, whether in the cloud or on private infrastructure.


Composition Engine: At Nimbella, we believe there is a new programming model for the cloud that allows developers to bring APIs, functions, and containers together in a familiar programming abstraction. The composition engine will enable developers to compose services, functions and APIs to satisfy the demands of new and emerging cloud applications.


Logging Engine: Rapid access to logs is critical for fast iteration during initial prototyping and development. Logging is also essential for large-scale applications. Nimbella offers convenient and structured logs that are automatically indexed and available from the Workbench. Logs may also be routed to existing logging services such as Elastic or Splunk.


Identity and Access Management (IAM) Integration: The Nimbella platform provides easy integration to commonly used IAM tools such as Auth0.


Cloud Director Load Balancer: This allows the Nimbella platform to automatically load balance between public clouds or public and private clouds.


"We are excited to have Nimbella join DigitalOcean to address specific needs often requested by our customers and fills a gap in the current serverless offerings in the market," Spruill said.


DigitalOcean expects to add Nimbella's serverless features into its platform in the first half of 2022, he added. Meanwhile, DigitalOcean will continue to support existing Nimbella users with bug fixes and security updates to the existing Nimbella platform, he said.