Frontend cloud provider challenges Amazon S3, Google Cloud with serverless database solutions for the edge
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San Francisco-based Vercel, a frontend cloud provider, today unveiled its suite of serverless storage options aimed at delivering cutting-edge database services at the edge. In collaboration with cloud infrastructure providers Neon and Upstash, the company has developed two solutions that empower developers to store and access data with increased speed and efficiency, regardless of where the user is located.
This move comes in response to the growing demand for applications that can handle data storage and access at the edge.
Vercel’s suite of storage offerings includes Vercel KV, a Redis-compatible database; Vercel Postgres, a SQL database for the frontend cloud, designed to work with the Next.js App Router and Server Components; and Vercel Blob, secure object storage offering efficient file storage in the cloud using an API built on web-standard APIs.
The company claims that these tools will enable developers to store and access data from anywhere in the world with low latency and high performance, addressing the growing need for data storage and access at the edge as applications move there.
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“We decided to step into the storage industry because of the noticeable [lack of] data storage built with the needs and agility of the frontend ecosystem,” Guillermo Rauch, CEO and founder of Vercel, told VentureBeat. “Today, it’s critical to have edge compute primitives and bring frontend-native storage to market, which pairs nicely with a more constrained edge environment while also having lower latency to the data origin.”
In addition to the new storage products, the company has announced Vercel Secure Compute, which enables enterprise businesses to establish private connections between serverless functions; and a new open-standard content mapping tool, Vercel Visual Editing, which allows developers to visually edit content directly on their website.
A new era of cloud computing
According to the company, the emergence of serverless and cloud-native architectures has facilitated the development and deployment of applications at an unprecedented scale. The trend, says Vercel, has led to more developers abandoning conventional database architectures and adopting distributed databases capable of scaling and delivering high performance in the cloud.
“The role of databases has already proven that there will not be one option that triumphs over all,” Rauch told VentureBeat. “We are now seeing more specialized features and options from database providers. This will put the power in the hands of the developer to choose the best solution for each use case.”
Rauch said that the first version of Vercel’s cloud focused more on particular regions, and relied heavily on moving the workload from the data center to a given cloud region selected by the developer.
“This new era of the cloud,” by contrast, “is more personalized and robust,” he explained. “What that means is it allows one to put a stronger emphasis on where the end user is located in order to improve SEO, conversion and even velocity. As the frontend cloud, this is a great outcome for teams and businesses that deploy on Vercel.”
An innovative serverless database
The company’s new offering, Vercel KV, is a serverless, Redis-compatible database with features not found in other key-value stores. Vercel’s partnership with Upstash in providing serverless tools broadens the scope of Vercel KV to support applications beyond the conventional Redis building process.
With this innovation, the company aims to provide a more robust and flexible option for developers seeking to optimize their key-value storage and access.
“With Vercel KV, a developer will get all the benefits of key-value stores without needing to manage scaling or Redis clusters,” said Rauch. “Instead, it’s fully managed by a frontend application, which is another way Vercel is building storage customized for the frontend’s needs, such as session management or custom rate-limiting.”
Similarly, for the SQL offering Vercel Postgres, the company has partnered with Neon, a well-recognized Postgres infrastructure provider, to develop serverless SQL databases built for the frontend cloud.
With Vercel Postgres, Rauch said, “developers can receive a fully managed, scalable and truly serverless database that is both high-performance and low-latency for any web application. We’ve also built Vercel Postgres to integrate with Next.js App Router and Server Components. This allows developers to easily fetch data from the database to render dynamic content on the server.”
Streamlining object storage and cloud connectivity
Along with the new suite of storage products, the company has announced offerings that aim to streamline object storage and cloud connectivity.
The object storage tool Vercel Blob is a solution for uploading and serving large files via the edge network, powered by Cloudflare R2.
Designed to provide a fast and efficient means of storing files in the cloud, the product offers a user-friendly interface built on top of web standards, eliminating the need for complex SDKs or bucket configuration.
According to Rauch, Vercel’s community has long requested object storage. But the company wanted to ensure its product would be user-friendly and competitive with other options on the market, such as Amazon S3 and Google Cloud Storage.
“By betting on web standards on our runtimes, we’ve created the smallest, most efficient, easy-to-use API to leverage object storage in the cloud and empower app developers to store files and add new capabilities to their applications,” he said. “Our approach to object storage feels like a natural extension of the programming model that our developers already love, which uses web APIs.”
Vercel Blob is currently in beta and will be rolling out over the coming weeks.
Likewise, the Secure Compute tool gives enterprises ease of use in the serverless model, but with the ability to deploy compute primitives in their secure environments. Application developers can now create secure connections between serverless functions, deployment builds and backend cloud infrastructure using Vercel’s new tool. With Secure Compute enabled, user deployments and build containers are placed in a private network with dedicated IP addresses, VPC peering and VPN support in a chosen region.
“The vast majority of enterprise products already have a backend. Now those enterprises can connect their backends securely to Vercel and benefit from the extra security of dedicated compute infrastructure with Vercel Secure Compute,” Rauch explained.
What’s next for Vercel?
Rauch said the company’s long-term vision for serverless infrastructure is to continue optimizing on the customer’s behalf. He believes that frontend clouds are the next frontier of serverless.
“With Vercel’s framework-defined infrastructure, we’re enabling developers to provision the necessary cloud primitives based on how their app is evolving,” he said. “Serverless has demonstrated that it is the operational model of the future, and frameworks like Vercel’s Next.js have empowered developers with the tools to seamlessly take advantage of serverless primitives.”
Vercel intends to offer an open, serverless specification for mapping content from any CMS provider to the frontend experience with its visual editing tool. The company states that a key innovation of the tool is the ability to provide visual editing for websites without the need for any code changes.
“Now, we’re entering into the next generation of compute power with edge functions, which remove the remaining tradeoffs of serverless by enabling dynamic applications with the same speed guarantees as static,” said Rauch. “Together, these capabilities give developers the ability to go from idea to application in seconds.”
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