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OpenFaaS Creator on Open Source’s Community-Funding Model

Jul 11th, 2019 5:00pm by
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OpenFaaS Creator on the Success of Open Source’s Community-Funding Model

In this latest episode of The New Stack Makers podcast, we sit down with Alex Ellis, creator of OpenFaaS, to discuss the latest update to his open-source serverless platform, what this new concept “Serverless 2.0” means, and the difficulties of supporting an open-source project.

Ellis created OpenFaaS a few years back after wanting to extend the functionality offered by Amazon Web Services’ Lambda function-as-a-service to any containerized computing environment, a feature that has since been emulated by other serverless offerings. The idea is that you can package not only your application, but all the supporting libraries and dependencies as well, into a container so they can run as serverless. You are not limited to one cloud provider, or one language runtime. “I wanted a way to combine my love with Docker with my love of coding,” Ellis said.

With serverless 2.0, “you can run any code, whether binary or an HTTP server, any way you like — your laptop, on-premises, on OpenShift, in the cloud,” Ellis said. Kubernetes provides a common substrate.

While Ellis started OpenFaaS by himself, he has since built a healthy contributor community around the software, as well as a very robust end-user community, including many large corporations. He admitted it required a lot of work “to get the flywheel moving” though has found only limited support through volunteer donation mechanisms, such as GitHub Sponsors or the Linux Foundation’s CommunityBridge.

“They are all based on the same model: If we just create a way of make your expenses transparent, people will just give you money. And I don’t think that is the case,” Ellis said, calling these efforts “a failed model” in most cases.

(Since speaking to us, Ellis has launched an Insiders Program to give sponsors and backers added value whenever they sponsor him on GitHub or Patreon. It has already been far more successful than the donation-model, he said. This starts at $5 and goes up to a homepage sponsorship level. Insiders will receive regular “Insiders Updaters” that cover all of Alex’s OSS work, blogs, videos, industry updates, and early access to OpenFaaS news and features.)

So listen to the podcast embedded above, or watch the video below, to hear more of Ellis’ thoughts on open source and serverless. This podcast was hosted by TNS Publisher Alex Williams and TNS Managing Editor Joab Jackson, and was recorded at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon EU in Barcelona, May 2019.

In this Edition:

1:43: How has OpenFaaS grown over the years?
7:46: How do you think of yourself among those peers?
10:57: Tell me about your governance
19:41: What are you speaking of as the failed model?
24:02: Defining the ecosystem and seeing where we can play with Knative
29:47: I’m curious what your take is on the Docker hack and the security/software supply chain?

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation, KubeCon + CloudNativeCon, The Linux Foundation and VMware are sponsors of The New Stack.

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TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in: Docker.
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