Onward! 2017
Conference paper

The serverless trilemma: Function composition for serverless computing

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The field of serverless computing has recently emerged in support of highly scalable, event-driven applications.Aserverless application is a set of stateless functions, along with the events that should trigger their activation. A serverless runtime allocates resources as events arrive, avoiding the need for costly pre-allocated or dedicated hardware. While an attractive economic proposition, serverless computing currently lags behind the state of the art when it comes to function composition. This paper addresses the challenge of programming a composition of functions, where the composition is itself a serverless function. We demonstrate that engineering function composition into a serverless application is possible, but requires a careful evaluation of trade-offs. To help in evaluating these tradeoffs, we identify three competing constraints: functions should be considered as black boxes; function composition should obey a substitution principle with respect to synchronous invocation; and invocations should not be double-billed. Furthermore, we argue that, if the serverless runtime is limited to a reactive core, i.e. one that deals only with dispatching functions in response to events, then these constraints Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. Copyrights for components of this work owned by others than ACM must be honored. Abstracting with credit is permitted. To copy otherwise, or republish, to post on servers or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee. Request permissions from Onward!'17, October 25-27, 2017, Vancouver, Canada.