Doing More with Less: Orchestrating Serverless Applications without an Orchestrator

David H. Liu, Amit Levy, Shadi Noghabi, Sebastian Burckhardt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Standalone orchestrators simplify the development of serverless applications by providing higher-level programming interfaces, coordinating function interactions and ensuring exactly-once execution. However, they limit application flexibility and are expensive to use. We show that these specialized orchestration services are unnecessary. Instead, application-level orchestration, deployed as a library, can support the same programming interfaces, complex interactions and execution guarantees, utilizing only basic serverless components that are already universally supported and billed at a fine-grained per-use basis. Furthermore, application-level orchestration affords applications more flexibility and reduces costs for both providers and users. To demonstrate this, we present Unum, an application-level serverless orchestration system. Unum introduces an intermediate representation that partitions higher-level application definitions at compile-time and provides orchestration as a runtime library that executes in-situ with user-defined FaaS functions. On unmodified serverless infrastructures, Unum functions coordinate and ensure correctness in a decentralized manner by leveraging strongly consistent data stores. Compared with AWS Step Functions, a state-of-the-art standalone orchestrator, our evaluation shows that Unum performs well, costs significantly less and grants applications greater flexibility to employ application-specific patterns and optimizations. For a representative set of applications, Unum runs as much as 2x faster and costs 9x cheaper.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 20th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation, NSDI 2023
PublisherUSENIX Association
Pages1505-1519
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781939133335
StatePublished - 2023
Event20th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation, NSDI 2023 - Boston, United States
Duration: Apr 17 2023Apr 19 2023

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 20th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation, NSDI 2023

Conference

Conference20th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation, NSDI 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBoston
Period4/17/234/19/23

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Control and Systems Engineering

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