SPLab Colloquium on Serverless Scientific Computing

Maciej Malawski from AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków, Poland, visited us today to give a colloquium talk titled «Can we use Serverless Architectures and Highly-elastic Cloud Infrastructures for Scientific Computing?» and to discuss research around the wider topics of workflows and cloud function compositions. This post summarises the talk and the subsequent discussion mixed with further general reflections on the state of serverless applications.

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Programmatic identification of cloud providers

There is an ongoing debate in the community about the level of awareness (and related to this, influence) an application or SaaS instance should have concerning where and how it is hosted. The arguments range from “none at all”, spoken with a deploy-and-forget mindset, to “as much as possible”, spoken with a do-it-yourself attitude. In practice, some awareness and influence is certainly present, for instance in application-specific autoscaling, self-healing, self-management in general.

One particular aspect in the discussion is about whether an application should know in which cloud environment it is running. Even though the engineer may have targeted a specific stack with project conventions, there may be migrations between several instance of the same, e.g. different installations of OpenShift, Cloudfoundry or other stacks to run cloud applications, across regions or even across providers. Already some time ago we looked into identifying the level of virtualisation in a nested virtualisation context. Now we complement this vertical view with a horizontal one. This blog post does not argue for or against cloud provider identification; it merely describes a tool to gain this knowledge and exploit it in any possible way. The tool is called whatcloud.

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