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An Architectural View of Apache OpenWhisk

An open source project driven by IBM and Adobe, Apache OpenWhisk is a robust Functions-as-a-Service (FaaS) platform that can be deployed in the cloud or within the data center. When compared to other serverless projects, OpenWhisk is a robust, scalable platform designed to support thousands of concurrent triggers and invocations.

You can sign up for the hosted version of OpenWhisk running in Bluemix or deploy a Vagrant-based environment on your development machine. Refer to our previous coverage on getting started with OpenWhisk.

In this article, we’ll explore the design and architecture of OpenWhisk. We will go behind the scenes of the deployment to identify various components and their role.

To get the best out of this guide, it is recommended that you have a fully configured OpenWhisk environment based on Vagrant running in your machine. The CLI of OpenWhisk, wsk, should be configured to talk to the local setup.

Quick Recap of the Architecture

Apache OpenWhisk is designed to act as an asynchronous and loosely coupled execution environment that can run functions against external triggers. Developers write standalone functions that are uploaded as Actions, which is completely autonomous and independent of the event sources. They can be invoked as long as an event source passes the right set of parameters that are essential for the invocation.

Once the Actions are in place, developers can create Triggers, which are endpoints that are explicitly called by event sources such as databases, stream processing engines, file systems, and line-of-business applications. An Action is independent of a Trigger, which means that it may or may not have any Action bound to it. When an event source fires a Trigger, it has no knowledge of the Actions that may be invoked. The set of Actions bound to a Trigger is discovered and executed only at runtime.

But, how do developers bind Actions with Triggers? That’s where the Rules come into the play. They act as the glue between Triggers and Actions by creating a loosely coupled association between them. This design pattern enables the same Action to get invoked by different Triggers.

This loosely coupled architecture makes OpenWhisk a scalable, reliable, and robust serverless platform. Each layer involved in the execution is designed to scale independently.

Actions, Rules, and Triggers can be created and managed through REST endpoints. All that the event source needs to do to invoke an Action is to call the Trigger REST API.

Read the entire article at The New Stack

Janakiram MSV is an analyst, advisor, and architect. Follow him on Twitter,  Facebook and LinkedIn.

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Janakiram MSV heads the Cloud Infrastructure Services at Aditi Technologies. He was the founder and CTO of Get Cloud Ready Consulting, a niche Cloud Migration and Cloud Operations firm that recently got acquired by Aditi Technologies. In his current role, he leads a highly talented engineering team that focuses on migrating and managing applications deployed on Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Windows Azure Infrastructure Services.
Janakiram is an industry analyst with deep understanding of Cloud services. Through his speaking, writing and analysis, he helps businesses take advantage of the emerging technologies. He leverages his experience of engaging with the industry in developing informative and practical research, analysis and authoritative content to inform, influence and guide decision makers. He analyzes market trends, new products / features, announcements, industry happenings and the impact of executive transitions.
Janakiram is one of the first few Microsoft Certified Professionals on Windows Azure in India. Demystifying The Cloud, an eBook authored by Janakiram is downloaded more than 100,000 times within the first few months. He is the Chief Editor of a popular portal on Cloud called www.CloudStory.in that covers the latest trends in Cloud Computing. Janakiram is an analyst with the GigaOM Pro analyst network where he analyzes the Cloud Services landscape. He is a guest faculty at the International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad (IIIT-H) where he teaches Big Data and Cloud Computing to students enrolled for the Masters course. As a passionate speaker, he has chaired the Cloud Computing track at premier events in India.
He has been the keynote speaker at many premier conferences, and his seminars are attended by thousands of architects, developers and IT professionals. His sessions are rated among the best in every conference he participates.
Janakiram has worked at the world-class product companies including Microsoft Corporation, Amazon Web Services and Alcatel-Lucent. Joining as the first employee of Amazon Web Services in India, he was the AWS Technology Evangelist. Prior to that, Janakiram spent 10 years at Microsoft Corporation where he was involved in selling, marketing and evangelizing the Microsoft Application Platform and Tools.