Function-as-a-Service 301: New Frontiers
At some point in this series, either Function-as-a-Service 101: What is It? or Function-as-a-Services 201: Common Architectures, you might have said to yourself, “Wait a minute, Cisco sells servers so why are you talking about serverless technologies?” Even keeping in mind the oxymoronic details discussed in the 101 post that there are actually servers still present in serverless computing, it is a fair question.
And the answer is, because we are close to an intersection of two technologies that has the potential to make a profound impact on how applications get created. As we’ve seen in this series, pieces of application functionality are getting smaller and smaller:
At the same time, there is a proliferation of networking and other edge devices that all amount to being fancy Linux boxes that are all around you wherever you go:
So what if you could place a FaaS runtime on every Cisco router in every building in the world? What if you also had an inventory of those routers and other similar edge devices and an inventory of functions capable of running on them?
If you had all that information, instead of a mobile client application using a static API endpoint that maps back to a datacenter several hundred miles away, the application could instead call some sort of lookup service to run the function on an edge device in the same building. That eliminates latency and leads to a much better user experience.
What would a lookup service like that be called?
Introducing: Cisco Function Router
Launched in preview in August, the Cisco Function Router allows a system administrator to track inventories of execution endpoints, functions, and clients and the clients to do location-based lookups.
A traditional hard-coded API call is subject to latency across the public Internet. Using Function Router, the client application instead gets a URL to execute a function on a much physically closer device and avoids that latency for subsequent requests. The result is similar to a Content Delivery Network, but for serverless functions.
Early use cases are scenarios like retail or entertainment where you know where your customers are going to be and what data they will be interested in. Imagine caching inventory data and the functions to operate on it on the router inside your favorite retail store or storing game scores that happened earlier in the day at a popular sports venue.
We would love to hear your thoughts on this exciting new concept. You can get started at: http://functionrouter.com.
There, you can sign up quickly, see a concept video, and learn more about this new offering from Cisco.