Towards serverless as commodity: A case of Knative
Serverless computing promises to evolve cloud computing architecture from VMs and containers-as-a-service (CaaS) to function-as-a-service (FaaS). This takes away complexities of managing and scaling underlying infrastructure and can result in simpler code, cheaper realization of services, and higher availability. Nonetheless, one of the primary drawbacks customers face when making decision to move their software to a serverless platform is the potential for getting locked-in with a particular provider. This used to be a concern with Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offerings too. However with Kubernetes emerging as the industry standard PaaS layer, PaaS is closer to becoming commodity with the Kubernetes API as its common interface. The question is if a similar unification for the API interface layer and runtime contracts can be achieved for serverless. If achieved, this would free up serverless users from their fears of platform lock-in. Our goal in this paper is to extract a minimal common denominator model of execution that can move us closer to a unified serverless platform. As contributors to Knative  with in-depth understanding of its internal design, we use Knative as the baseline for this comparison and contrast its API interface and runtime contracts against other prominent serverless platforms to identify commonalities and differences. Influenced by the work in Knative, we also discuss challenges as well as the necessary evolution we expect to see as serverless platforms themselves reach commodity status.