Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Saturday, April 4, 2020
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App Developer Netlify Looks Beyond Web Servers 


The enterprise shift away from web server applications towards APIs and microservices is spawning new platforms where web applications are developed on networks rather than servers requiring more management while presenting scaling challenges.

The move to replace web servers with “application delivery networks” is also attracting investors. This week, San Francisco-based startup Netlify disclosed a $30 million funding round led by Silicon Valley heavy hitters Kleiner Perkins along with seed investor Andreessen Horowitz. Other participants included the founders of Microsoft-owned GitHub, Slack and Yelp.

Netlify’s web development platform dubbed JAMStack abstracts the web server. It is built around client-side JavaScript, reusable APIs and a prebuilt Markup language. Investors note that key application development projects such as Docker and Kubernetes have migrated to Netlify’s application delivery network.

The startup said its JAMStack approach to pre-building and distributing applications was borrowed from mobile app developers. The application delivery network architecture is now catching on with web developers, investors said. “Running any web property without origin servers is an arresting concept, but the clear future of the web platform,” said GitHub founder Tom Preston Warner.

Microsoft’s $7.5 billion acquisition of GitHub in June and other recent investments in app developers such as GitLab also promise to transform the way enterprise applications are developed and distributed. Among the goals is making lift easier for developers by providing ready-to-use code that can be moved quickly to deployment at scale.

Hence, Netlify stresses that it is providing developers with a “git-centric workflow” that moves developers away from server applications and towards greater use of APIs and emerging microservices. The startup claims its application delivery network “removes the last remaining dependency on origin infrastructure, allowing companies to host the entire application globally.”

According to the web site, Netlify has so far raised more than $44 million. Andreessen Horowitz led an initial funding round for the startup, which was founded in 2015.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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