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Reliable OpenWhisk Deployment on Kubernetes With Persistent Storage

In a previous blog post, we described our experience with deploying OpenWhisk on Kubernetes on OpenStack. During subsequent testing, we observed some issues with the OpenWhisk deployment wherein some OpenWhisk components – specifically, the controller and the invoker – would fail to restart after rebooting the machines running the Kubernetes nodes for maintenance tasks. To fix this, we had to redeploy OpenWhisk after each failure which resulted in significant data loss and was clearly an unacceptable operational solution.

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Deploying OpenWhisk on Kubernetes on OpenStack

Serverless applications is one topic that SPLab has been working on for a couple of years now, with, for example, our work on a stand-alone FaaS platform Snafu, work on disaggregating applications into serverless functions, Podilizer and other activities. Having organised ESSCA some weeks ago, we are now again exploring the technical limits and challenges in this space. This blog post reports about our experience of running the combination of OpenWhisk, Kubernetes, Helm and OpenStack.

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Students: Invitation to Serverless and Cloud-native Application Development

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.

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Bundling CNA Applications

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.

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CloudCom’18 – The 10th IEEE International Conference on Cloud Computing Technology and Science

From the 10th until 13th of December 2018 in Nicosia, Cyprus, the 10th IEEE International Conference on Cloud Computing Technology and Science took place. This slightly delayed conference report briefly recapitulates the event from our subjective participation perspective.

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End-to-end testing of cloud-native 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.

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First International Workshop on Cloud-Native Applications Design and Experience — CNAX 2018

Our SPLab organised a full day workshop on cloud-native applications (see the web page and call for papers of the CNAX 2018) within the IEEE/ACM UCC/BDCAT 2018 umbrella.

The workshop was organised in collaboration with Ivo Krka from Google and also supported by Jorge Cardoso from Huawei. The blending of industry and academic research has always been a key point in cloud-native work which relies heavily on fast-paced innovation.

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Diving into the Helm ecosystems: From charts to metrics

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.

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Review of the 11th IEEE/ACM UCC and 5th IEEE/ACM BDCAT conferences

From December 17 to 20, 2018, our lab proudly hosted the 11th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Utility and Cloud Computing (UCC) along with its collocated event 5th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Big Data Computing, Applications and Technologies (BDCAT). We welcomed around 200 attendees in the Zurich Technopark, making it a record event in the multi-year conference series, the biggest neutral cloud conference in Switzerland, and a successful venue to present and discuss recent advances around the wider field of utility, big data and cloud computing. This blogpost briefly summarises the event and gives some information about how it came all together.

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Extending cloud management platforms with cloud functions

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.

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