Burst-parallel serverless applications invoke thousands of short-lived distributed functions to complete complex jobs such as data analytics, video encoding, or compilation. While these tasks execute in seconds, starting and configuring the virtual network they rely on is a major bottleneck that can consume up to 84% of total startup time. In this paper we characterize the magnitude of this network cold start problem in three popular overlay networks, Docker Swarm, Weave, and Linux Overlay. We focus on end-to-end startup time that encompasses both the time to boot a group of containers as well as interconnecting them. Our primary observation is that existing overlay approaches for serverless networking scale poorly in short-lived serverless environments. Based on our findings we develop Particle, a network stack tailored for multi-node serverless overlay networks that optimizes network creation without sacrificing multi-tenancy, generality, or throughput. When integrated into a serverless burst-parallel video processing pipeline, Particle improves application runtime by 2.4--3X over existing overlays.
Fast Function Instantiation with Alternate Virtualization Approaches
This paper focuses on the need for emerging domains such as serverless and in-network computing, where applications are often hosted on virtualized compute instances (e.g., containers and unikernels), to have applications startup as quickly as possible. We provide a qualitative and quantitative analysis of containers and unikernels with regard to the startup time. We analyze these in-depth and identify the key components and their impact under scale on the startup latency. We study how startup time scales as we launch multiple instances concurrently. We study the contribution of popular Container Networking Interfaces (CNIs), to the startup time.
- Award ID(s):
- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- 2021 IEEE International Symposium on Local and Metropolitan Area Networks (LANMAN)
- Page Range or eLocation-ID:
- 1 to 6
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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