As we celebrate the 3rd OpenFaaS Birthday, I look back over the past three years and towards a 2020 vision

We’re 3!

I started OpenFaaS with a single commit back in 2016. Since its inception the community of users and contributors has grown at a steady rate. Join me in this blog post to celebrate the 3rd birthday of OpenFaaS. I’ll give a short history of the project, share our online celebration, talk about the future and congratulate the SWAG contest winners. You’ll also get a few links at the end on how to get involved in time for our next birthday.

Thank you to Iheb for this graphic.

A short history

Back in 2016 I wanted to explore Serverless and started out with AWS Lambda, it worked well, but I wanted a way to run my functions on my own hardware using Docker containers. My first attempt was called funker-dispatch, which built upon some prior art by a Docker employee and was written in Node.js. I quickly hit the limits of funker and so went back to the drawing-board. Justin Cormack from Docker invited me to the Cambridge office for a day and we brainstormed some ideas and came up with the “watchdog” concept.

The first version was called “faas” (Functions as a Service). faas lived in my personal GitHub account as alexellis/faas, I wrote a blog post about it in 2017, which received a lot of interest and encouraged me to keep pushing: Functions as a Service (FaaS).

the opportunity felt like a once-in-a-lifetime thing

In mid-2017 I won a competition to present in Dockercon’s keynote in Austin and wrote up a new blog post showing off “faas-cli” - the opportunity felt like a once-in-a-lifetime thing and resulted in me getting a promotion to Principal-level at work.

Shortly after Dockercon, I built faas-netes which added Kubernetes support to OpenFaaS. I planned how to tackle the problem over a few days but wrote the code on a Sunday evening in one-shot. I then had the opportunity to present to the CNCF’s Serverless Working Group: OpenFaaS presents to CNCF Serverless workgroup.

Justin Cormack said “you need to quit your job and work on OpenFaaS full-time”

The CLI received even more enhancements and shortly before the end of 2017, I flew to my first KubeCon to give a talk on FaaS and Furious - 0 to Serverless in 60 Seconds, Anywhere. At the following Dockercon in Copenhagen I gave a session in the community theatre which was flooded with people, Justin Cormack said “you need to quit your job and work on OpenFaaS full-time”. My wife was supportive of the idea and I began to look for ways to do that.

“the success of the project was dependent on more than just my personal contributions and it felt great”

As more contributors joined the project, the success of the project was dependent on more than just my personal contributions and it felt great to see new features being developed by the community. In that time we gained a documentation site, got permission to list end-user logos from dozens of companies, event-triggers, spoke at dozens of conferences and collected hundreds of blog posts and tutorials. I also started OpenFaaS Cloud - a platform to offer a managed, multi-user experience for teams. The Community Cluster gives free access to developers in the community, and gives a very similar experience to Google’s Cloud Run product, but with CI/CD and secrets management built-in.

Shortly after that the community rallied around and helped me

In early 2018 VMware offered me a job and asked me to come onboard as a Senior Staff Engineer. I built up a small team to continue my work with OpenFaaS whilst retaining rights to the project. I learned a lot over those 12 months and made some good friends, but left in March when the company put their serverless program on hold. One of my highlights was giving a talk with Vision Banco at KubeCon on how they’d put OpenFaaS intro production for their home-banking service. Shortly after that the community rallied around and helped me launch a new openfaas.com website with a professionally-designed theme and styled-blog.

I’ve focused on OpenFaaS Ltd, joined the CNCF Ambassadors and launched new OSS projects

Since leaving VMware I’ve focused on OpenFaaS Ltd which offers Cloud Native consulting, OpenFaaS support, product feedback, and developer-marketing. This past year has also seen me start new projects like k3sup for installing Kubernetes apps and k3s clusters and inlets for tunnelling services out from behind NAT and firewalls. Both projects are complimentary to OpenFaaS and share contributors with the main project.

I spoke on the PLONK stack for Kubernetes Application Developers, if you’ve ever used or heard of LAMP or MEAN, then PLONK is something you should look into. Since I joined the CNCF Ambassadors program, talking about PLONK seems like a good way to help people connect the dots and adopt Kubernetes for applications.

Throughout these past three years, the community of users and contributors has grown as has the The Pressures of Leadership and the demands of doing Open Source without sustainable funding. The GitHub sponsors program is currently funding less than 1 day per month of my time. All individuals who sponsor get exclusive access to weekly digests from me on all my OSS work, blog posts, tutorials and updates for OpenFaaS.

I want to thank each one of you that has contributed, especially the Members and Core Team, this project is far too big to do alone and I’m grateful of your help.

I also want to say a thank you to our current OpenFaaS.com homepage sponsors: