Apsara Conference 2022|Serverless: The Next 10 Years of Cloud Computing

Date: Oct 1, 2022

Introduction: Moore's Law is a summary of the experience that the performance of processors in the integrated circuit field doubles every two years. This experience seems to be applicable to the evolution of technology in the field of cloud computing.

Apsara Conference 2022|10 years ago, UC Berkeley predicted that cloud computing would flourish. Customers do not need to build their own computer rooms and pay for cloud resources on demand, just like a leasing model, which reduces the one-time investment of enterprises in IT. With the help of the rich product support in the cloud, the launch and iteration speed of the business has been accelerated, and the core competitiveness of the enterprise has been enhanced. It is commendable that the stability and security of the business built on the cloud have been more professionally guaranteed.

Apsara Conference 2022|This is what is often referred to as the technological dividend brought by cloud computing: more economical, more efficient, and more open. Therefore, it can be seen in various market analysis reports that the cloud is gradually replacing the traditional IDC market, showing a trend of development.

We are always curious about the future and excited about the mix of old and new.
In 2015, AWS launched the Lambda service, and the word serverless first appeared to the public. Then, in 2017, Alibaba Cloud launched the function computing FC, and in 2019, it launched the serverless application engine SAE and the serverless container service ASK. Berkeley once again predicted that Serverless will replace Serverful computing, and as a result, Serverless has attracted widespread attention in the industry.

Serverless brings the benefits of cloud computing - more economical, more efficient, and more open to the extreme. Through the event-triggered mechanism, idle resources are reduced to 0, just like a signal light. Power is consumed when people appear, and no one is there. At the same time, it will be automatically extinguished when it is turned off, achieving true elasticity; at the same time, there is no need to care about the operation and maintenance of the IaaS layer, and the operation and maintenance work of the Server (server) is less (shielded).

So some people will ask, there are always two sides to technology, Serverless sounds so perfect, does it have limitations in application scenarios? Zhao Peng, a senior technical expert at Ant Group, threw this question to Forrester chief analyst Charlie and ZStack founder Zhang Xin at a roundtable discussion at the Yunqi Conference.
Charlie: "Forrester has a long and in-depth study on the serverless field. From the summary of the application scenarios of serverless, there are three categories. One is the ultra-scale, finance, education, medical, manufacturing and other enterprises, when building businesses based on cloud platforms, Some businesses with high workloads are suitable to be supported by serverless technology; the second is hyper-dynamic, consumers interact with the products and services provided by enterprises through digital or physical touchpoints, and their interaction methods and interaction frequency It will test the dynamic support ability of the platform and is suitable for using serverless technology; the third is ultra-efficient support, that is, developers can achieve ultra-scale and ultra-dynamic business needs in a more efficient way."
Zhang Xin: "To understand the application scenarios of serverless, we need to have a consensus that serverless is not a complete technology stack, not a silver bullet that solves all problems. Serverless is an important supplement to the cloud native technology system, and it is a kind of sticky Mixture, Serverless is an event-driven architecture, which realizes the decoupling of services in the cloud-native system and reduces the cost of cloud usage by triggering events in the form of code snippets.”

Except for some limitations in application scenarios, unlike container technology with a unified de facto standard and a rich ecosystem, Serverless is still in the early stage of technology exploration, but was asked whether there is vendor lock-in in Serverless, and how its development is related to container technology Time.
Henry, the founder of the Harbor project, believes:

"Serverless is like a minimalist version of PaaS. You only need to write a small amount of code or the core logic of the business, and leave the rest to the platform to provide a set of business, whether it is code operation and service invocation, serverless applications. It is destined to be inseparable from the platform he depends on, which means that code written for one serverless platform cannot run on another platform. Of course, through open source projects such as CloudEvents for making a unified event format, it is possible to improve different Service interoperability between platforms to promote the standardization of serverless platforms.

Since containers and K8s have become the mainstream technologies and operating platforms for cloud-native applications, running serverless workloads on K8s to achieve fast startup and elastic scaling capabilities will complement each other and develop together. To sum up, Serverless plays an increasingly important role in the development of container technology, and container technology will increasingly consider the needs of Serverless in its development process. "
Yang Haoran, head of Alibaba Cloud Serverless, gave his answer to "How to view the vendor lock-in of Serverless": "We believe that Serverless should be vendor-free, and Alibaba Cloud's function computing is deeply integrated with the open source container ecosystem to give full play to the respective advantages of both parties. At the same time, Alibaba Cloud EventBridge supports CloudEvents to unify cloud event standards. At the same time, we will also launch a more open developer tool chain to help users use function services of various platforms at a lower cost, and hope to promote Serverless in a community manner landing in the country.”

Obviously, only the development of the serverless ecosystem jointly promoted by the open source community and manufacturers can make the technology more economical, more efficient, and more open.

The commercial use of technology must first be experienced for self-use, in order to ensure the maturity and stability of commercial technology. Technology companies at the forefront of technology will always take the lead in practice, and actively share the results of practice.

Ten years ago, Alibaba applied microservice technology in e-commerce scenarios, and continued to polish and iterate. Later, there were open source microservice frameworks/components such as Apache Dubbo / Apache RocketMQ / Nacos / Sentinel / Seata / Spring Cloud Alibaba / ChaosBlade , which greatly enriches the Java ecosystem and accelerates the implementation of microservices. Today, the entire Alibaba Group is practicing serverless, including Taobao, Tmall, Alipay, DingTalk, Fliggy, Xianyu, Yuque, etc., extending the application scenarios of serverless to front-end full stack, small programs, microservices, new retail , game interactive entertainment and other fields.

Xianyu is one of the active explorers.
Wang Shubin, head of Xianyu's architecture, shared: "In terms of business characteristics, Xianyu is similar to Xiao Taobao and has similar e-commerce attributes. At the same time, Xianyu is an independent APP, with its own closed loop of business traffic and its own. User characteristics. Therefore, in terms of technical architecture, on the one hand, due to the similar e-commerce attributes, most of Xianyu's basic capabilities are based on Alibaba Cloud and Taobao's e-commerce business systems, which are at the bottom layer in the above figure. These basic capabilities are the cornerstone to support the rapid iteration and development of Xianyu. On the other hand, because of the uniqueness of Xianyu's business, we need to have rapid and innovative research and development capabilities. Therefore, the above business layer is our rapid research and development structure. The essential."

After relying on Flutter and H5 cross-end framework to release productivity on the end, we found that in many scenarios, we can let students on the end go to the server side, and directly develop the BFF layer on the server side based on Serverless, forming a cloud-integrated R&D model . This can greatly reduce the collaboration between the device and the cloud, because collaboration is one of the biggest factors affecting R&D efficiency.

What kind of scene is suitable? The first scenario is a page with heavy interaction, such as our order page. When the user changes the order address, transaction method, and discount method, the price needs to be recalculated. There is a heavy cloud and terminal logic coordination cost. The integration makes the interaction logic and data logic unified. The second scenario is a page similar to activities and construction. This kind of page is fast online, the logic of the server is light, and the data assembly is the main thing. This kind of business can usually be dominated by the students on the end, and it is also very suitable for integrated programming. These two categories are currently the most applicable scenarios. With the improvement of the function computing ability of the students on the end, there will be more light-weight scenarios applicable.

In addition to the integrated services, there are also a larger part of the glue layer services, which are directly provided by the server-side students. These services are developed in traditional applications, and traditional large-scale applications have very serious problems of bloat, conflict, and coupling. We use the serverless architecture to split traditional applications, which can allow developers to focus on business greatly, achieve extremely fast delivery, and greatly improve the efficiency of this part of research and development.

The following video can help us further understand the extreme elasticity and rapid delivery capabilities brought by serverless.

In addition to Wang Shubin from Xianyu, who are exploring serverless technology, there are also serverless technical director Wan Ming of Shishi Documentation, Zheng Chao, director of Timing microservice architecture, and Wang Jianzhong, director of Lianhua Huashang Information Center Department.

Wan Ming: "We apply serverless technology to table modification and merging, as well as table rendering results calculation, these two scenarios that consume a lot of CPU and memory, improve development efficiency and reduce computing costs."

Zheng Chao: "We don't have a dedicated operation and maintenance team. Through SAE's second-level automatic elasticity, we can easily and dynamically expand capacity to cope with the peak test, and automatically shrink on demand during peaks and valleys, which not only guarantees the SLA of the system, but also reduces costs. It saves about 35% of the hardware cost compared to the previous ECS retention method.”

Wang Jianzhong: "We transformed our online core business into a middle-office model with a full serverless architecture, and adopted "Function Computing + API Gateway + OTS" as the core of computing network storage to flexibly support the resources required for daily and big promotion peaks and valleys. The project cycle starts from 6 months has been reduced to 3 months, and resource upgrade costs have dropped by about 100%.”

The reason why enterprise customers such as Graphite Documents, Timing, and Lianhua Huashang can quickly use serverless technology in their business is due to Alibaba Cloud's rich serverless products and solid underlying technology.

Ding Yu, a researcher at Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, shared at the Yunqi Conference: "Alibaba Cloud provides a wealth of serverless products, including Function Compute for functions, SAE for applications, Serverless K8s for container orchestration, and ECI for container instances. It constitutes the most complete serverless product matrix among all current cloud vendors. Behind these serverless products are the four core technologies of Alibaba Cloud's infrastructure—Dragon Architecture, Sandbox Containers, Pangu Storage, and Roselle Network. Solid cornerstone and strong core competitiveness.

A complete serverless product also needs to be equipped with complete back-end cloud services and rich developer tools. For example, our newly released event bus, Event Bridge, can easily connect cloud services, cloud applications and SaaS applications, further accelerating Alibaba Cloud's serverless product side. End-to-end integration, and Serverless Workflow can easily build complex tasks such as media processing processes, machine learning pipelines, and automated operation and maintenance processes through a visual function orchestration model.

In addition, the newly launched Serverless-tools and Serverless Application Center are used to create a more open, standard, and vendor-free Serverless community. At the same time, the support of container images and performance instances integrates the container ecology, breaking the minimum running unit of functions, making it easier for developers to use. One step for developers to go to the cloud and one-click Severless may become a reality. "

Going back to the picture at the beginning of the article, the development of software technology has gone through the stages of physical machines, virtual machines, cloud computing, and container technologies. Serverless, which truly frees hands, is coming to us. When asked about the next decade When asked what the trend of Serverless will be, Situ Fang, senior technical expert of Alibaba Cloud, gave such an answer:

"Serverless in the next decade will be serverless with open standards and no vendor lock-in, serverless closely integrated with the cloud native ecosystem, serverless with simpler integration of cloud-side applications, and serverless that can support more complex services at a lower cost. ."

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