Serverless as Simple Callbacks with Pulumi and Azure Functions

Today’s guest post is from Mikhail Shilkov, a Microsoft Azure MVP and early Pulumi user and contributor - enjoy!

Serverless compute services, like Azure Functions, offer an amazing power to application developers to leverage: highly available, automatically scaled, low-ceremony, pay-per-value functions created in several lines of code.

So, what’s the simplest way to take a Node.js function and deploy it to Azure cloud as an HTTP endpoint? How about this little tutorial:

1. Create a new Pulumi program:

$ pulumi new azure-typescript

2. Define an HTTP endpoint in index.ts:

import * as azure from '@pulumi/azure';
 
const resourceGroup = new azure.core.ResourceGroup('example', { location: 'West US' });
 
const greeting = new azure.appservice.HttpEventSubscription('greeting', {
    resourceGroup,
    callback: async (context, req) => {
        return {
            status: 200,
            body: `Hello ${req.query['name'] || 'World'}!`
        };
    }
});
 
export const url = greeting.url;

3. Deploy:

$ pulumi up
 
Updating:
   Type
 + pulumi:pulumi:Stack
 + ├─ azure:appservice:HttpEventSubscription
 + │  ├─ azure:storage:Account
 + │  ├─ azure:appservice:Plan
 + │  ├─ azure:storage:Container
 + │  ├─ azure:storage:ZipBlob
 + │  └─ azure:appservice:FunctionApp
 + └─ azure:core:ResourceGroup
 
Outputs:
   url: "https://greetingc21a23fe.azurewebsites.net/api/greeting"
Resources:
   + 8 created

4. Access your function via HTTP:

$ curl https://greetingc21a23fe.azurewebsites.net/api/greeting?name=Pulumi
Hello Pulumi!

With 12 lines of code and two CLI commands, I’ve created all Azure resources required to host a serverless function without an explicit configuration of Azure services. Okay, I had to define a location for my resource group, but that could also be accomplished via pulumi config.

Pulumi compiled my TypeScript function, serialized it to a JavaScript file, created the bindings in a function.json file, hosting configuration in a host.json file, uploaded all these assets to Blob Storage, and configured a Consumption Plan and a Function App to run my function. An automated and reproducible deployment in less than two minutes.

Beyond Hello-World

The power of Node.js comes from the richness of its library ecosystem. There’s an NPM package for everything, so you definitely want to use those.

Serverless-function-as-callback imports dependencies in a transparent way. Install the NPM packages of your choice and use them inside the callback:

import * as moment from 'moment';

const greeting = new azure.appservice.HttpEventSubscription('greeting', {
    resourceGroup,
    callback: async (context, req) => {
        return {
            status: 200,
            body: `Hello ${req.query['name'] || 'World'} at ${moment().format('LLLL')}!`
        };
    }
});

The packages get zipped up inside the deployment artifact automatically so that the Function App can find them at the startup. So there’s no need to manually figure out how to produce the archive, get it uploaded, and maintain it as your libraries get updated.

Stay tuned for another blog post with a full implementation of a serverless URL shortener application deployed into multiple Azure regions for fast response time and improved resiliency.

Not Only HTTP

Your application might not be a bunch of HTTP functions. You probably want to leverage queues for asynchronous message passing. How about defining a callback on the queue object itself:

const storageAccount = new azure.storage.Account("storage", {
   resourceGroupName: resourceGroup.name,
   location: resourceGroup.location,
   accountReplicationType: "LRS",
   accountTier: "Standard",
});
 
const queue = new azure.storage.Queue("myqueue", {
  resourceGroupName: resourceGroup.name,
  storageAccountName: storageAccount.name
});
 
queue.onEvent("newMessage",  async (context, msg) => {
   // code to process 'msg' however you want here
   console.log("Message received: " + msg.toString());
});

Alternatively, define a ServiceBus topic and immediately subscribe to the messages:

import * as servicebus from "@pulumi/azure/eventhub";
 
const namespace = new servicebus.Namespace("test", {
   resourceGroupName: resourceGroup.name,
   sku: "standard",
});
 
const topic = new servicebus.Topic("mytopic", {
   resourceGroupName: resourceGroup.name,
   namespaceName: namespace.name,
});
 
export const subscription = topic.onEvent("mysubscription", async (context, msg) => {
   console.log("Received: " + msg.toString());
});

In addition, get notified when a new PNG image is uploaded to a Blob Container:

const storageContainer = new azure.storage.Container("images-container", {
  resourceGroupName: resourceGroup.name,
  storageAccountName: storageAccount.name,
  name: "images",
});
 
storageContainer.onBlobEvent("newImage", {
   callback: async (context, blob) => {
       console.log("File size: " + context.bindingData.properties.length);
   },
   filterSuffix: ".png",
});

In all these examples, you get a fully configured Function App on Consumption Plan ramped up and bound to the trigger of choice. Your callback runs in the cloud handling every event with no manual work of hooking these different components together.

Using a general-purpose language like TypeScript provides one consistent approach to defining and delivering serverless applications and infrastructure as one cohesive application.

We strive to make cloud development as simple as everyday JavaScript development that made the language so successful. A lot is happening behind the scenes, but the code still looks like “normal code”. Composition of cloud resources should be as straightforward as hooking up components in any traditional application.

Looking Ahead

Pulumi serverless programming model for Azure Functions is just ramping up. There is only a handful of trigger types supported right now, and some configuration parameters are not exposed yet.

So, today is the perfect time to chime in and join the discussion! Help us answer the questions:

  • Is this programming model beneficial to your scenarios?
  • Which trigger types do you want to be supported?
  • How should we package multiple functions into Function App(s)?
  • Do you need input and output bindings to be supported, and if yes, in which shape?

Feel free to create an issue on GitHub, tag us on Twitter, or join our community Slack channel.

Happy serverless programming!

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