The Serverless Application Repository by Amazon Web Services (AWS SAR) is, in simplified terms, a marketplace for Lambda functions. You can speed up application development by building on the functions (or function compositions) provided by it, and you can share your own functions with other cloud application developers. AWS SAR was launched over a year ago. In the Service Prototyping Lab at Zurich University of Applied Sciences, we are investigating better ways of building applications for cloud and post-cloud environments. Consequently, we did a full year observation of AWS SAR to find out what’s in it and what’s going on. Read on for some interesting excerpts and findings and for accessing the study document.
The first four “wild” years of serverless computing, starting with simple Function-as-a-Service (FaaS) launches in 2014, are over, and we are in the fifth year now. All major cloud companies offer FaaS, corresponding Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS), and related “serverless” services such as frameworks for cloud function-based data processing at the edge or in constrained environments. Researchers from universities, research institutes and research divisions in companies have covered this development, and proposed improved systems and frameworks, since 2016 – trailing two years behind industry initially, but with promising designs and prototypes which may give the necessary impetus for a next-generation serverless computing paradigm. We have surveyed 130+ research papers and announce the Serverless Research Output website which makes the results accessible.
Bachelor students of computer science at Zurich University of Applied Sciences focus a lot on software development. Software is never developed in the blue; rather, software needs a concrete environment to function and to deliver value. In ‘Programming’ (1st/2nd semester) and ‘Software Development’ (3rd/4th semester), you learn some basic skills. In ‘Systems-oriented Programming’ (2nd semester), you apply these skills to predefined systems with some constraints. In ‘Web Development’ (3rd semester), you apply these skills to another environment in which there is a lot of pace through new technologies. In ‘Game Development’ (5th semester), you develop for specific interactive scenarios, and in ‘Mobile Applications’ (5th semester, you develop user-facing apps for common mobile platforms.
One of the most fascinating and economically important areas is the development of applications which run in the cloud. You may access them with web or mobile devices, but you still cannot see them! Still, they are very powerful, scalable to millions of users, and interconnected across cloud providers and with various backend systems such as databases, message queues and key-value stores. This is why we offer SCAD, a new elective module on Serverless and Cloud-native Application Development.
For almost five years, we have been researching cloud-native applications. As part of an industry-wide push to cloud-native computing, a lot of stacks and middleware components are proposed every day, but few tools and processes help improving the applications themselves especially in terms of quality attributes such as discoverability, elasticity and resilience. With Helm charts, there is already a higher-level approach to package cloud applications in Kubernetes environments. Our work on static analysis of Helm charts and quality assessment beyond is documented and ongoing. In this post, we take a first look at CNAB, or Cloud Native Application Bundle which is self-described as secure and cloud-agnostic way to deliver applications.
In our research group, we have for many years observed and systematically explored how cloud applications are being developed. In particular, we focus our investigations on cloud-native applications whose properties are largely determined by exploiting the capabilities of modern cloud platforms for both their development and operation. As we are involved in European research on testing cloud applications (Elastest), our aim was to look at the current project results through the cloud-native glasses. This blog post reports about end-to-end testing of composite containerised applications from this perspective.
In recent months, we have extensively studied Helm charts, including setting up a continuous quality assessment, to find out more about this promising packaging format for Kubernetes applications. Apart from individual tweets and occasional talks, there was a lack of a coherent presentation of the ongoing work. Yet, due to the increasing installation base of Kubernetes stacks, the significance of this work appears to be on the rise. This blog post therefore tells what we achieved already and what we are still going to do in the next months.
Through several years of research on the subject of cloud functions, researchers including ourselves have gained a thorough understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of function-based application development. Along with increased maturity of FaaS, a more specialised consideration of potential use cases is needed to filter out the ones where the technology shines compared to the ones where significant weaknesses become apparent and other technologies, perhaps even in combination, would be a better fit. This early experience report informs about how we have deployed cloud functions around an existing cloud management platform as a variant of the well-known solar system approach of introducing microservices around monoliths.
At Zurich University of Applied Sciences, in particular at the Service Prototyping Lab, we are very proud to announce a packed global technology event week which brings many international experts in cloud computing, big data computing and serverless computing into little Switzerland. Join us for more than 140 unique technical and scientific talks over five days!
11th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Utility and Cloud Computing – UCC 2018
5th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Big Data Computing, Applications and Technologies – BDCAT 2018
From the 17th to the 20th of December, we expect around 200 attendees at the Technopark to discuss trends and progress on many cloud and big data topics. Apart from the two main conference tracks, there will be a cloud challenge, a doctoral forum, a posters presentation, 4 tutorials, and 8 workshops on diverse emerging topics (e.g. cloud-native, sustainable big data for environments, software testing, security and trust). Broad industry support is lined up to support the event with attendees and corporate support. Daypasses start at 350 CHF.
Check the UCC and BDCAT websites for programme and registration!
European Symposium on Serverless Computing and Applications – ESSCA 2018
In addition to UCC and BDCAT, we offer a community-priced event on the 21st of December where starting with 50 CHF you can attend to listen to 16 expert talks and tutorials on the trend topics of serverless computing, FaaS and cloud functions.
The European Conference on Service-Oriented and Cloud Computing (ESOCC) is among the most recognised community-run venues to discuss technological advances among researchers and practitioners. Its 7th edition (ESOCC 2018) just took place in Como, Italy, and we were participating for three reasons: to present a paper on migrating multi-container applications between clouds, to sense new challenges ahead especially in the cloud-native space, and to connect stronger to fellow researchers from across the continent.