Scala leader Lightbend has declared it’s time for Serverless 2.0, and has launched a standards effort, dubbed CloudState, to bring statefulness to the Function as a Service model.
According to the GitHub page for CloudState, the lack of stateful services and fast data streaming, is “the final impediment standing in the way of a Serverless platform for general-purpose application development — with true elastic scalability, high resilience, and global deployment, in the Kubernetes ecosystem.”
While serverless pioneers have focused on the automation of the underlying infrastructure, it continues, they have “to some extent ignored the equally complicated requirements at the application layer, where the move towards Fast Data, streaming, and event-driven stateful architectures creates all sorts of new challenges for operating systems in production.”
CloudState pledges to offer both a standards effort – defining a specification, a protocol to connect user functions and the backend, and a TCK – and a reference implementation, “implementing the backend and a set of client API libraries in different languages.”
The reference implementation will “leverage Knative, gRPC, Akka Cluster, and GraalVM running on Kubernetes”.
Delve a little deeper into the page, and you’re quickly into some serverless philosophy territory. The project notes that while many consider serverless to be the same thing as Function as a service, “we see it as much more than that: a new category of PaaS, where the key point is the Developer Experience, supporting the full life-cycle of the application, not the programming API of its latest incarnation.”
FaaS is a “classic data-shipping architecture” it continues, but its stateless nature makes it “problematic to build general purpose data centric applications”, while functions often have no direct addressability, meaning “too high latency for addressing general-purpose distributed computing problems”.
CloudState aims to extend the model, meaning it can be applied to other use cases such as training and serving machine learning models, and delivering low latency, realtime services such as prediction/recommendation servicing, fraud detection, and transaction and workflow management, amongst others.
Lightbend was originally founded as Typesafe, by Scala creator Martin Odersky and Akka creator Jonas Bonér . As well as leading on Scala, it leads on the Akka middleware, and Play Frameworks. The firm renamed itself in 2016, and launched Lagom, an open source Microservices framework.