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Platform9 Announces Fission Workflows to Bring Simplicity of Serverless to Complex Applications

Platform9, the next generation open cloud company, today announced Fission Workflows, the first open source framework for serverless workflow management. Built on Kubernetes and Fission, Fission Workflows orchestrates sophisticated sequences of functions to enable developers to write complex applications using the serverless paradigm. Unlike public cloud serverless solutions, these applications can run anywhere, across data centers or public clouds.

As developers increasingly adopt serverless technology to efficiently run and manage applications, Fission Workflows addresses a key limitation of the current landscape. While serverless makes it very easy to write small functions, developing complex applications with many interacting functions remains too challenging. For example, upgrading a serverless application that uses dozens of functions, is error-prone, time consuming and complex. This is the problem that Fission Workflows solves by allowing users to orchestrate their serverless functions, while improving operations, troubleshooting and management capabilities.

"Since introducing Fission earlier this year, there has been tremendous interest and community momentum with growing contributions and usage," said Soam Vasani, software engineer at Platform9 and Fission author. "At the same time, it became clear that complex applications require interactions between  functions, and there wasn't a good way for users to reason about and express those interactions".

After evaluating several approaches to serverless function composition, the Fission project found that combining a workflow engine with functions produces a simple yet expressively powerful solution. This approach brings development simplicity, availability, and operational ease to complex serverless applications.

The industry's only serverless workflow framework that runs on a Kubernetes cluster anywhere -- from a private datacenter to a public cloud -- Fission Workflows is easy to use, extensible and open source. As a serverless technology, it offers several advantages, such as time to value and simplicity of developer experience. Additional benefits include:

  • Composability: Users can easily compose larger application concepts as workflows that can reuse serverless functions.

  • Operability: With Fission Workflows, users can monitor, troubleshoot and upgrade entire workflows as opposed to individual serverless functions. Additionally, a centralized dashboard provides a detailed look at the workflow's execution.

  • Availability: Developers can use the framework with confidence, relying on fault tolerant capabilities that ensure a workflow is recovered and restarts from the right place in the event of infrastructure failures.

Fission Workflows is a project from Erwin van Eyk, who joined Platform9 from Delft University of Technology, Netherlands. Professor Alexandru Iosup at Delft University shared his perspective on workflows:

"Workflows and dataflows are at the core of engineering and scientific productivity. They allow experts and novices to work together, sharing best practices and composing complex applications. But workflows and dataflows require specialized engines, which automate the tedious and complex management tasks on behalf of their human operators. Without workflow engines, operating a complex application is like managing a thousand-employee company using only face-to-face communication; that is, almost impossible and surely not efficient."

Announced in January 2017, Fission is Platform9's open source serverless framework built on Kubernetes. To learn more about Fission Workflows, visit http://fission.io/workflows.

Published Tuesday, October 03, 2017 2:53 PM by David Marshall
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