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Vercel brings new back-end tools to its front-end cloud

Front-end platform Vercel today announced the launch of a number of back-end services, including Redis and PostgreSQL databases and an object storage service, all of which Vercel built with partners like Upstash, Neon and Cloudflare. That's in addition to the launch of new security features like Vercel Secure Compute and the Vercel Firewall, as well as the launch of a new visual editing experience for headless content management systems and the release of Vercel Spaces, which is meant to make managing large Vercel projects easier and which the company describes as "the biggest evolution of Vercel's workflow yet."

The company is making these announcements as part of its Vercel Ship launch week.

As Vercel founder and CEO Guillermo Rauch told me, over the past 24 months, developers used the service to publish over 4 million sites to production, for a total of over 150 million deployments on the platform during that time. "Front-end developers specifically love this platform. Companies are reinventing themselves through the front end," he said. "We're doubling down on the strategy and bringing new products to market that emphasize different aspects of the platform -- and it really has become a comprehensive platform. I started the company with Next.js. I started the company to make it easy to host Next.js, but it's grown to a lot more than that."

He noted that for a long time, the number one thing developers asked for from Vercel was storage options. Given Vercel's focus on the front end, developers always had to figure out the back-end services for themselves. But now, the company is launching these two tightly integrated databases and its object storage services to make it easier for developers to build their entire application on Vercel.

Image Credits: Vercel

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To enable this, the company is launching Vercel KV today, a serverless Redis solution powered by Upstash, Vercel Postgres, a serverless SQL database powered by Neon, and Vercel Blob, a solution for uploading and serving files, powered by Cloudflare's R2 object storage service. All of these services are meant to work seamlessly with the rest of Vercel's products and, of course, Next.js.

"I believe that most vendors in the serverless space have figured out how to scale the compute. It grows really fast, it deals well with traffic -- whatever. They have not figured out how to scale the data part," Rauch said. "Developers have been really frustrated with that. The compute scales but the data doesn't, so you run into connection issues, you run into scalability issues."

It's interesting that Vercel is working with partners here instead of building these services themselves. Rauch noted that while the company could have taken the open source projects these tools sit on top of and tried to run them itself, building these services as serverless products involved a complete reimagining of the infrastructure that they run on and only a few providers in the world have been able to do this. The one exception here is Blob, where Vercel owns the storage primitives, even as the service runs on top of Cloudflare's R2.

"The pairing between our runtime and the database is a magical combination," Rauch argued. "Now you don't have to worry about how the database scales and the client is very lightweight. Vercel has perfectly packaged this solution so that you get this best-of-both-worlds-experience."

Image Credits: Vercel

The other major launch this week is Vercel Spaces. As more Vercel users start using monorepos for their projects, the company decided that it needed to rethink how its dashboard experience functioned for these projects. But in addition to that, the company also added features like conformance to Vercel Spaces, which analyzes the code for common issues, based on the best practices Vercel itself developed over the years.

Another new feature of Spaces is Code Owners, which makes it easier to map an organization with a monorepo, so it's clear which team or individual owns a given snippet of code and who the right people to review and approve it are.

Also new is Vercel Runs, which allows developers to send a build from any build tool to Vercel for visualization, which should make it easier to debug builds and gain insights from the aggregate information. If you're a Turborepo user, for example (and Vercel acquired Turborepo in late 2021), then you can now send the data from your Turbo runs to the Vercel dashboard for visualization.

Image Credits: Vercel

On the security side, Vercel is launching Secure Compute, which enables private connection between Vercel's serverless functions and the back-end services that power them -- essentially creating a private network with dedicated IP address to handle all production and preview traffic. The company now also offers Vercel Monitoring and Logs, a full monitoring solution that gives developers insights into how their applications are performing, as well as an updated firewall that now includes improved DDoS protection and new rules for IP blocking to keep malicious actors from accessing a site.

Last but not least, after adding commenting to preview deployments last year, Vercel is now expanding on this idea of making it easier to collaborate on content by launching a new visual editing experience for content sourced from headless content management systems (CMS). With this, users get a WYSIWYG editor that sits on top of the CMS and any edit is immediately synced back to it. Vercel built this capability in partnership with Sanity.

Image Credits: Vercel