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Frontend Development / Software Development / Storage

Vercel Offers Postgres, Redis Options for Frontend Developers

Vercel continues its push to position itself as a one-stop shop for frontend and web application developers by adding new storage solutions.
May 1st, 2023 9:00am by
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Increasingly, cloud provider Vercel is positioning itself as a one-stop for frontend developers. A slew of announcements this week makes that direction clear by adding to the platform a suite of serverless storage options, as well as new security and editing features.

“Basically, for the longest time, frontend developers have struggled to come to define how you put together these best-in-class tools into a single platform,” Lee Robinson, Vercel’s vice president of developer experience, told The New Stack. “The idea here really is what would storage look like if it was reimagined from the perspective of a frontend developer.”

All of the announcements will be explored in a free upcoming online conference of sorts later this week.

Rethinking Storage for Frontend Developers

Vercel wanted to think about storage that works with new compute primitives, such as serverless and edge — functions that mean frontend developers don’t have to think through some of the more traditional ways of connecting to a database, Robinson said.

Developers are moving away from monolithic database architectures and embracing distributed databases “that can scale and perform in the cloud,” the company said in its announcement. Vercel also wants to differentiate by integrating storage with JavaScript frameworks, such as Next.js, Sveltekit or Nuxt, Robinson said.

The new options came out of conversations in which developers said they wanted first-party integration with storage and a unified way to handle billing and usage, a single account to manage both their compute as well as their storage, all integrated into their frontend framework and their frontend cloud, Robinson added.

“Historically, frontend developers — trying to retrofit databases that were designed for a different era — have struggled to integrate those in modern frontend frameworks,” Robinson said. “They have to think about manually setting up connection pooling as their application scales in size and usage. They have to think about dialing the knobs for how much CPU or storage space they’re allotting for their database. And for a lot of these developers, they just want a solution that more or less works out of the box and scales with them as their site grows.”

The three storage products Vercel announced this week are:
1. Vercel Postgres, through a partnership with Neon.

Postgres is an incredible technology. Developers love it,” Robinson said. “We wanted to build on a SQL platform that was reimagined for serverless and that could pair well with Vercel as platform, and that’s why we chose to have the first-party integration with Neon, a serverless database platform, a serverless Postgres platform.”

The integration will give developers access to a fully managed, highly scalable, truly serverless fault-tolerant database, which will offer high performance and low latency for web applications, the company added. Vercel Postgres is designed to work seamlessly with the Next.js App Router and Server Components, which allow web apps to fetch data from the database to render dynamic content on the server, Vercel added.

2. Vercel KV, a scalable, durable Redis-compatible database.

Redis is used for key-value store in frontend development. Like Postgres, Redis is one of the top-rated databases and caches for developers, he said. Developer loves its flexibility and API and the fact it’s open source, he said.

“These databases can be used for rate limiting, session management and application state,” Vercel stated in its press release. “With Vercel KV, frontend developers don’t need to manage scaling, instance sizes or Redis clusters — it’s truly serverless.”

Vercel’s lightweight SDK works from edge or serverless functions and scales with a brand’s traffic.

“The interesting thing here — and what I’m really excited about with this one — is that traditionally, a lot of Redis instances would be ephemeral. So you would use them as a cache, you would store some data in them, and that cache would expire,” Robinson said. “The cool thing about durable storage, or our durable Vercel KV for Redis, is that you can actually use it like a database. You can store data in there and it will persist. So developers get the power and the flexibility that they love from Redis.”

3. Vercel Blob, a secure object storage, which has been one of the top requests from the Vercel community. Vercel Blob offers file storage in the cloud using an API built on Web standard APIs, allowing users to upload files or attachments of any size. It will enable companies to host medium complex apps entirely on Vercel without the need of a separate backend or database provider.

“Vercel Blob is effectively a fast and simple way to upload files,” Robinson said. “We’re working in partnership with Cloudflare and using their R2 product that allows you to effectively very easily upload and store files in the cloud, and have a really simple API that you can use; again, that works well with your frontend frameworks to make it easy to store images or any other type of file.”

Each offers developers an easy way to solve different types of storage problems, he said.

“If you step back and you look at the breadth of the storage products that we’re having these first-party integrations for, we’re trying to give developers a convenient, easy way to solve all of these different types of storage solutions,” Robinson said.

New Security Offerings from Vercel

Along with Vercel’s new storage products, the frontend cloud provider has also launched Vercel Secure Compute, which gives businesses the ability to create private connections between serverless functions and protect their backend cloud. Previously, companies had to allow all IP addresses on their backend cloud for a deployment to be able to connect with it, Vercel explained. With Vercel Secure Compute, the deployments and build container will be placed in a private network with a dedicated IP address in the region of the user’s choice and logically separated from other containers, the press release stated.

“Historically on the Vercel platform, you’ve had your compute, which is serverless functions or edge functions, and when we talk to our largest customers, our enterprise customers, they love the flexibility that offers, but they wanted to take it a step further and add additional security controls on top,” Robinson said. “To do that, we’ve offered a product called Vercel Secure Compute, which allows you to really isolate that compute and put it inside of the same VPC [virtual private cloud] as the rest of your infrastructure.”

It’s targeting large teams who have specific security rules or compliance rules and want additional control over their infrastructure, he added. Along with that, they introduced Vercel Firewall, with plans to introduce a VPN at some point in the future.

“The same customers when they’re saying, ‘I want more control, more granularity over my compute,’ they also want more control over the Vercel Edge network, and how they can allow or block traffic. So with Vercel firewall we’re giving our enterprise customers more flexibility for allowing or blocking specific IP addresses,” Robinson said.

Visual Editing Pairs with Comments on Preview

The company also released Vercel Visual Editing, which dovetails on the company’s release in December of Comments on Preview Deployments. Visual Editing means developers can work with non-technical colleagues and across departments to live-edit site content. To do that, Vercel partnered with Sanity, a real-time collaboration platform for structured content, to introduce a new open standard for content source mapping for headless CMS [content management systems]. The new standard works with any framework and headless CMS, the company added.

Vercel used it for the blog posts it’s creating about the new announcements, collectively nicknamed Vercel Ship, allowing the team to edit the content.

“The way that visual editing pairs into this, it actually works in harmony with Comments,” he said. “So for example, all of the blog posts that we’re working on for this upcoming Vercel Ship week, we’re using a combination of comments, as well as visual editing to allow our teams to give feedback say, ‘Let’s change this word here to a different word. Let’s fix this typo.’ Then the author or the editors can go and click the edit button go in make those changes directly and address the comment.”

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