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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft Introduces the Public Preview of Flex Consumption Plan for Azure Functions at Build

Microsoft Introduces the Public Preview of Flex Consumption Plan for Azure Functions at Build

At the annual Build conference, Microsoft announced the flex consumption plan for Azure Functions, which brings users fast and large elastic scale, instance size selection, private networking, and higher concurrency control.

The Flex Consumption Plan is a new Azure Functions hosting plan that uses the familiar serverless consumption-based billing model (pay for what you use). It provides users with more flexibility and customization options without sacrificing existing capabilities. According to the company, users can build serverless functions with this plan, leading to higher throughput, improved reliability, better performance, and enhanced security according to their needs.

Flex Consumption (Source: Tech Community blog post)

Thiago Almeida, who works for the Azure Functions engineering team, writes:

Flex Consumption is built on the latest Functions host especially optimized for scale, a brand-new backend infrastructure called Legion, and a new version of our internal scaling service. It is now available in preview in 12 regions and supports .NET 8 Isolated, Python 3.11 and Python 3.10, Java 17 and Java 11, Node 20 LTS, and PowerShell 7.4 (Preview).

Flex Consumption offers a range of scaling capabilities, including multiple instance memory choices, per-instance concurrency control, per-function scaling, "Always Ready" instances, and the ability to scale out to up to 1000 instances per app. In addition, users can securely access Virtual Network (VNet)-protected services from their function app and secure their function app to their VNet. There is no extra cost for VNet support; users can share the same subnet between multiple Flex Consumption apps.

Besides Flex Consumption's scaling and networking features, other features are available, including Azure Load Testing integration for Function apps. This integration allows users to set up load tests against their HTTP-based functions easily. Flex Consumption apps can also opt-in to emit platform logs, metrics, and traces using Open Telemetry semantics to Azure Application Insights or other OLTP-compliant endpoints. Finally, it's important to note that Flex Consumption has no execution time limit enforced by the functions host. However, it's still essential to write robust functions as there are no execution time guarantees during public preview, and the platform can still cancel function executions.

A cloud solution architect from Germany tweeted on the announcement of the new plan:

Finally... Too late, but better than never. We lost a huge project against AWS-Competitor due to the lack of these capabilities two years ago. We developed one year ago, and the customer decided to switch to AWS due to the lack of possibilities for scale to zero and VNet Integration at once.

While Miroslav Janeski, a technical director at Init Norway, concludes in a blog post:

Azure Functions Flex Consumption represents a significant leap forward in serverless computing. It addresses long-standing challenges while maintaining cost efficiency and scalability benefits. As cloud-native applications evolve, innovations like these will pave the way for even greater advancements.

Lastly, the Flex Consumption Plan operates on a consumption-based pricing model. Charges are applicable for on-demand instances during function execution and for optional "Always Ready" instances. The plan includes a monthly free grant of 250,000 requests and 100,000 GB-s of resource consumption per subscription.

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