Middleware 2022
Workshop paper

Floki: A Proactive Data Forwarding System for Direct Inter-Function Communication for Serverless Workflows

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Serverless computing emerges as an architecture choice to build and run containerized data-intensive pipelines. It leaves the tedious work of infrastructure management and operations to the cloud provider, allowing developers to focus on their core business logic, decomposing their jobs into small containerized functions. To increase platform scalability and flexibility, providers take advantage of hardware disaggregation and require inter-function communication to go through shared object storage. Despite data persistence and recovery advantages, object storage is expensive in terms of performance and resources when dealing with data-intensive workloads. In this paper, we present Floki, a data forwarding system for direct and inter-function data exchange proactively enabling point-to-point communication between pipeline producer-consumer pairs of containerized functions through fixed-size memory buffers, pipes, and sockets. Compared with state-of-practice object storage, Floki shows up to 74.95× of end-to-end time performance increase, reducing the largest data sharing time from 12.55 to 4.33 minutes, while requiring up to 50,738× fewer disk resources, with up to roughly 96GB space release.