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Kubernetes / Serverless

Avoid the Serverless Speed Trap

The combination of growing choice and the abstraction inherent in serverless, spells both promise and risk for enterprise architects.
Mar 5th, 2021 11:56am by
Featued image for: Avoid the Serverless Speed Trap

Mark Hinkle
Mark has a long history in emerging technologies and open source. Before co-founding TriggerMesh, he was the executive director of the Node.js Foundation and an executive at Citrix, and Zenoss where he led their open source efforts.

Less than half a decade old, serverless computing has matured and been adopted at remarkable speed. What began as a single serverless offering from Amazon Web Services (AWS) now covers dozens of rival platforms and two primary approaches: Functions-as-a-Service (FaaS) and Container-based. To be sure, serverless now transcends functions and has matured into a cloud native architectural pattern. For this reason, we prefer the term Serviceful instead of serverless.

The combination of growing choice — in terms of providers and approaches — and the abstraction inherent in serverless, spells both promise and risk for enterprise architects.

The well-understood promise is lower cost, greater agility and greater customer responsiveness, as enterprises use serverless to proliferate event-driven architecture (EDA) to more systems.

While everyone loves to talk about the promise, few discuss the risks. With the pressure really on to modernize and move to the cloud, a sometimes overlooked risk is placing non-standard and/or poorly understood cloud technology at the center of your enterprise architecture — we can call this the speed trap. We think open source approaches like Kubernetes, and its serverless offshoot Knative, can be an enterprise architect’s key allies in managing this risk.

Architects that understand the common substrate enabling multicloud EDAs (Event-driven Architecture) can make more informed and more flexible choices. To illustrate, let’s look at the Knative-based managed serverless offerings from two very different platform companies: Google and SAP.

Google Cloud Run for Anthos

Google Anthos is an application management platform that provides a consistent dev and ops experience for cloud and on-premises environments.

Google Cloud Run for Anthos is its serverless offering, allowing you to develop and deploy highly-scalable containerized applications on a fully-managed serverless platform. Cloud Run is based on Knative, which means the API specification is a standard Kubernetes custom resource. This is important because it means the design work you put into architecting your systems is highly portable to any other Kubernetes-based platform.

Cloud Run for Anthos lays a solid foundation for Event-driven Architecture (EDA). Cloud Run for Anthos provides support for dozens of Google sources, Pub/Sub, Cloud Scheduler, and custom events. When combined with TriggerMesh, you can trigger Cloud Run serverless workloads from events anywhere — even on-premises legacy applications.

SAP Cloud Platform, Kyma Runtime

SAP comes to the serverless game from a decidedly different place than Google, and yet arrives at a similar technology stack. Where Google appeals first to developers of new applications, SAP of course boasts a massive installed base of complex on-premises enterprise applications. Ensuring these customers can cost-effectively update these apps with serverless and event-driven capabilities is SAP’s primary aim.

Kyma lets you build extensions by using microservices and serverless functions, so devs can extend SAP solutions and also combine existing IT solutions to create new capabilities. Like Cloud Run for Anthos, Knative anchors the serverless capabilities of Kyma. The ability of Knative to support the serverless needs of these two use cases, that bookend the greenfield to installed-base spectrum, speaks to its versatility.

Multicloud EDA with Knative 101

Open source and open standards de-risk platform choice, not only because they give you greater application portability. They also drive down the need to re-learn — so it’s not just the app that becomes portable, but also your team’s knowledge.

With this in mind, we ran a free Webinar on Jan. 12 that gave architects a practical, hands-on look at how Kubernetes and Knative provide a common substrate to connect applications wherever they are running. The webinar, titled “Event-driven Architecture with Knative, Google Cloud Run for Anthos, and TriggerMesh” introduced Knative eventing by looking at how it works in Google Cloud Run for Anthos. In the recording, you will discover how you and your team can use the same techniques, models, and in many cases the exact same YAML, across multiple Kubernetes-based environments.

Feature image via Pixabay.

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