Re: The Cloud-Nativity of Serverless

Mark Coleman <mark@...>

Thanks for kicking this off Ryan.

To provide a little more context for the rest of the TOC, I worked on the first ServerlessConf with Peter Sbarski (in CC) and Alexis asked if it would be possible to find some knowledgable Serverless folks to start a conversation here in the TOC.

This is the beginning of that conversation.

On Fri, Mar 31, 2017 at 5:17 PM Ryan S. Brown via cncf-toc <cncf-toc@...> wrote:
Hello all,

If haven't heard Amazon&others raising a general ruckus about serverless lately, I sincerely hope your vacation to the backwoods was relaxing. šŸ˜

I'm Ryan, and I've been interested in FaaS/serverless for a while now. Also CC'd on this message are Ben Kehoe (iRobot) and Peter Sbarski (ServerlessConf/A Cloud Guru). Lately, it seems the open-source interest has been picking up significantly in addition to all the use in the public cloud. Just to name a few FaaS/serverless provider projects: Fission[1] & Funktion[2] on Kubernetes, FaaS[3] on Swarm, and standalone OpenWhisk[4] (primarily IBM-driven). Even Microsoft's Azure Functions is OSS.

A cynical observer might say that the MS/IBM efforts are open to help compensate for them starting so late relative to Lambda, but either way the result is a lot of open or nominally open projects in the FaaS/serverless area. And with cloud providers looking to embed their various FaaS deeper into their clouds by integrating their FaaS with cloud-specific events, making their FaaS the way into customizing how their infra reacts to events.

So why am I writing this email? Well I've been thinking about serverless as the next step in "cloud native" developer tooling. Look back to the state of the art in the 00's and you'll see the beginnings of autoscaling/immutable infrastructure, then move ahead a bit to containerized applications, then container schedulers, and you can see a trend towards shorter and shorter lifespans of persistent machines/processes. Function-as-a-Service is another step in that direction where containers live for seconds rather than persistently listening. This trajectory seems pretty intuitive as a developer: as lower layers of the stack become more standard I should be able to automate/outsource management of them.

I'd like to help the TOC think about where (or whether) serverless/FaaS should fit into the CNCF's plans for the future. Do you want to talk about what serverless actually is? Figure out how various OSS fits into a serverless ecosystem? Compare how FaaS provided in the public cloud differs from what users need in a hybrid/on-prem environment? Ask away - Ben, Pete, and I are all here to help out.

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