Lambda calculus: talking Serverless with Florian Motlik

The open source Serverless project, which currently has nearly 10,000 stars on Github, provides tooling around AWS’s “Function as a Service” ecosystem that includes Lambda and API Gateway. I recently had the opportunity to chat with Florian Motlik, CTO of Serverless, about his thoughts on serverless architectures and the future of the Serverless framework.

The following interview has been edited and condensed. 

Forrest: Although AWS Lambda is less than two years old, we’re already seeing a robust tooling ecosystem appear around it, including the Serverless Framework. How did the Serverless project get started?

HeadshotFlorian: Austen Collins, our founder, started Serverless about a year ago. In his previous life as a consultant, he worked with AWS Lambda while building various applications. Austen saw two things about Lambda that made a huge difference for him. First, it enables you to build applications without having to maintain infrastructure. And as someone who had to maintain infrastructure in the past, he saw that was a really interesting direction for the industry to go. Second, Lambda enables an event-driven architecture, where you just react to events that can be fired from anywhere to anywhere. Austen also saw that although Lambda was very powerful, its lack of tooling made it hard for new users to get started. So, about a year ago he started building the Serverless framework. The project took off right away, and towards the end of last year, he decided that this is not just an open source framework; it’s something we can build a company around. So that’s when I was brought on as the CTO to lead our engineering team, and we grew from there.

Continue reading “Lambda calculus: talking Serverless with Florian Motlik”

Lambda calculus: talking Serverless with Florian Motlik

Could serverless computing work in a public volunteer cloud?

Serverless computing

What’s that old schoolyard rhyme? “AWS and Azure, sitting in a tree, I – A -A – S,  P – A -Y – G. First come VMs, then containers, then come stateless microservices running on public cloud infrastructure at fractions of a cent per second.” Or something like that.

Anyway, application deployments are getting lighter, backend microservices are getting smaller, and now many development shops are moving toward “serverless architectures” in which dynamic computational tasks are handled using a few cycles on somebody else’s managed server. As of 2016, the public cloud giants (AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure) all have their own “serverless services” that allow you to buy processing time for cheap. And I do mean cheap – a million AWS Lambda requests per month, each lasting five seconds, will set you back about $10.62.

Developers gravitate toward this approach because it’s scalable, cost-effective and requires little to no infrastructure maintenance. In AWS, you might deploy an application with data stores in RDS or DynamoDB, static web content hosted in S3, an API Gateway directing traffic and Lambda functions running the business rules – look Mom, no servers!

But wait a minute. Is a pay-as-you-go public cloud really the only place to run serverless compute functions? After all, a handful of computer scientists have been running little pieces of code on distributed computers for years, at a price even Lambda will never beat: free.

Continue reading “Could serverless computing work in a public volunteer cloud?”

Could serverless computing work in a public volunteer cloud?

Notes from the Summit: Day 3 Summary

This is the third and final installment of my daily notes from the 2016 Powershell and DevOps Global Summit. Day 1 wrap-up is here, and Day 2 is here.


9 AM (Don Jones): What DevOps Really Looks Like

Don Jones is an effortlessly entertaining speaker who’s not afraid to eviscerate ideas he finds stupid, sort of like (and I mean this in the best possible way) the Donald Trump of Windows IT. He is also a man who thinks clearly about DevOps, a subject usually buried in fuzziness and hype. (I highly recommend his short e-book on DevOps from an ops perspective.)  In this session, he gave a typically animated fireside chat about what a DevOps culture really is: an embrace of the idea – foreign to many ITIL shops – that failure is inevitable and change is good. (He brought down the house with a line about ITIL being IT governance borrowed from the DMV.)

Continue reading “Notes from the Summit: Day 3 Summary”

Notes from the Summit: Day 3 Summary

Notes from the Summit: Day 2 Summary

Being the second installment of my daily notes from the 2016 Global Powershell and DevOps Summit. Day 1 wrap-up is here.


Morning Sessions

9 AM (Neema Saeedi, Windows Server & Services Program Manager): Nano Server and Remote Management

Nano Server is coming, ready or not. And it looks like Microsoft’s new skinny server option is a lot readier than it was at last year’s Powershell Summit in Charlotte. Last year’s big reveal was the fact that Microsoft would offer a web-based remote management console for Nano, including familiar tools like Registry Editor and Task Manager that won’t be available on the headless server itself, as well as a Powershell prompt right in the browser.  That management console is now in preview, and Neema Saeedi from the Nano team spent some time today demonstrating the interface as well as providing updated stats about Nano’s current size and deployment time.

Continue reading “Notes from the Summit: Day 2 Summary”

Notes from the Summit: Day 2 Summary

Powershell Summit 2016

WashingtonI’m taking in a lot on my first trip to Seattle. Like the fact that the Washington state highway insignia does not show an outline of the state, but George Washington’s head in silhouette. This makes me wish that the old-time surveyors had actually laid out Washington State in the shape of George Washington. Come to think of it, we should redo all the states in designer shapes. I’m thinking a giant peach for Georgia, and for Texas maybe an AK-47. Michigan could still be a mitten, though. That’s weather-appropriate.

Another cool thing I’m experiencing in Seattle is the 2016 Powershell and DevOps Global Summit. I went to this event last year when they had it in Charlotte and it quite literally changed the way I think about my career: as a virtuous feedback loop, where your success is measured in part by how you share your work and engage with others in the technical community.

Here are some other cool things about the Powershell Summit:

  1. It’s small – like, two hundred attendees small – and the quality of the attendees is generally quite high: you can learn something from talking to just about anybody.
  2. There are no third-party vendors trying to sell you stuff, just presenters who care incredibly much about the Windows ecosystem.
  3. The sessions are lousy with Microsoft engineers, including quite a few members of the Powershell product group. If you’re really lucky, you might find yourself sharing an elevator with Jeffrey Snover himself. This is the time to ask your best, most complicated Powershell question.

If you want straight talk about the state of the art in Windows system automation, this event is the place to be. This year I’m hoping to live-tweet and/or blog as many of the sessions as possible. I also hope to have some other cool stuff coming out of this week that I’ll share more about if everything works out. In the meantime, please check back throughout the week for updates!

Day 1 Summary

Day 2 Summary

Day 3 Summary


Powershell Summit 2016