Serverless Functions on vSphere?

By Published On: October 5, 2020

What’s the most unlikely place to find Function-based computing (Serverless)? What if I told you VMware has a Functions as a Service platform that’s relatively popular. So popular that the company that leads the underlying project won Best of VMworld. What if I also told you that the solution targets administrators vs. developers? That’s precisely the case with VMware Event Broker Appliance (VEBA). 

I recently sat down with Alex Ellis, founder of OpenFaaS LTD. Alex leads the extremely popular open source project OpenFaaS. OpenFaaS provides the abstraction between the developer and Kubernetes to run event-driven code. You can think of OpenFaaS as the private version of AWS Lambda. Anyone running a CNCF compliant Kubernetes cluster may deploy OpenFaaS. 

VMware Fling

When the VMware team wants to flex their creativity around the vSphere API, VMware releases Flings. You can think of a VMware Fling as an unsupported software prototype. Another example of a VMware Fling is a set of ESXi drivers that allow homelabers to connect USB network adaptors to servers. There are little to no supported use cases where an end-user wants to use a USB network adaptor in production. 

It’s with this lens you must approach the VEBA. While Alex did at one-time work for VMware, VMware doesn’t have a formal relationship with OpenFaaS. According to Alex, VMware doesn’t contribute back to the project. I want to emphasize that if you create production processes using VEBA, VMware offers no support. A VMware Fling = A Proof Of Concept. 

But Why? 

From a practical perspective, VMware administrators get insight into creating DevOps and infrastructure as code disciplines. VEBA show the roadmap for creating operations that leverages vCenter events to improve processes. An example use case is to update a configuration database on the creation of an NSX Firewall rule. 

By helping VMware administrators understand the relationship between vSphere events and Functions, administrators can better understand VMware Tanzu Kubernetes distribution. It’s not a stretch to go from understanding VEBA to a path to deploying a fully supported Kubernetes Cluster running OpenFaaS with commercial support from Alex’s team. 

It’s a new world where traditional data center technologies such as VMware vSphere become augmented by open source projects such as OpenFaaS. Flings such as VEBA help show the way. 

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