The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and Oracle threw some needed support behind efforts to standardize serverless computing. Those efforts are around the release of the first draft specification targeted at interoperability for generating a serverless function.
The CloudEvents v0.1 draft specification from the CNCF’s Serverless Working Group (SWG) is the official name of the effort. It’s focused on providing tooling for building, testing, and handling the lifecycle of event-driven and serverless architectures.
The project wants to provide a common platform for developers to describe serverless events, which are what trigger serverless-based applications. This will allow for greater portability of serverless application across different platforms, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) Lambda and Google Cloud Functions.
“Events are increasingly common, especially with serverless adoption growing so quickly,” explained Chris Aniszczyk, COO at CNCF, in a statement. “A common way of describing event data helps with the portability of serverless applications and aids tooling for developers building libraries across serverless environments.”
The SWG plans to formally propose CloudEvents as a sandbox project within CNCF at a technical oversight committee meeting in June.
The draft follows up on a previously released white paper from the CNCF working group. The white paper explains some of the basic concepts of serverless computing, use cases, challenges, and opportunities. A landscape graph shows how serverless fits into the CNCF ecosystem.
Oracle on Board
Oracle quickly jumped on the release, adding CloudEvents support to its Fn Project.
“CloudEvents is really the glue that ties a lot of functions together,” explained Bob Quillin, VP for cloud developer relations at Oracle. “Right now, all eventing is different between cloud providers and frameworks. I am excited about this move toward a basic standardization, which has not yet been a priority.”
The vendor also tossed in support for the Serverless Framework. Quillin explained that this platform abstracts the underlying layer so that it can connect into any function-as-a-service (FaaS) platform running underneath, including Fn.
Oracle unveiled its open source Fn serverless developer platform late last year. The platform allows developers to build and run applications without the need to provision, scale, or manage any infrastructure. Those applications can be housed and run from any cloud platform.
The company followed that up by open sourcing the platform’s Kubernetes Installer and Global Multi-Cluster Management. The former allows developers to run serverless deployments on any Kubernetes environment, while the latter allows users to manage and scale applications running across data centers, regions, and clouds.
Outside of that framework support, Oracle added the OpenCensus monitoring distribution to Fn. This will allow users to collect metrics on running serverless applications for viewing or export to any analysis tool.
“A developer can write to an API and let it pull data from the application environment,” Quillin said. “It basically is a standard way to collect those metrics.”
Standards have been an early challenge to serverless computing adoption. And Charlie Li, chief cloud officer at Capgemini, noted that the lack of market maturity has bolstered fear of vendor lock-in.
“Vendor lock-in with serverless is more pressing than what is happening with containers,” Li said. “If you are a full Microsoft shop or all-in with AWS, this is not a problem. But if you want to have a multi-cloud environment, it’s not easy to migrate serverless applications across platforms.”
The CNCF white paper highlighted benefits of using open APIs as a way to avoid vendor lock-in.
“One thing is quite clear – as a new technology there is a lack of standardization and interoperability between cloud providers that may lead to vendor lock-in,” the white paper notes. “There is a need for quality documentation, best practices, and more importantly, tools and utilities. Mostly, there is a need to bring different players together under the same roof to drive innovation through collaboration.”