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Function-as-a-Service or FaaS is a popular delivery model of serverless computing where developers upload code to be executed in the cloud as short running stateless functions. Using smaller functions to decompose processing of larger tasks or workflows introduces the question of how to instrument application control flow to orchestrate an overall task or workflow. In this paper, we examine implications of using different methods to orchestrate the control flow of a serverless data processing pipeline composed as a set of independent FaaS functions. We performed experiments on the AWS Lambda FaaS platform and compared how four different patterns of control flow impact the cost and performance of the pipeline. We investigate control flow using client orchestration, microservice controllers, event-based triggers, and state-machines. Overall, we found that asynchronous methods led to lower orchestration costs, and that event-based orchestration incurred a performance penalty.
To improve the observability of workload performance, resource utilization, and infrastructure underlying serverless Function-as-a-Service (FaaS) platforms, we have developed the Serverless Application Analytics Framework (SAAF). SAAF provides a reusable framework supporting multiple programming languages that developers can leverage to inspect performance, resource utilization, scalability, and infrastructure metrics of function deployments to commercial and open-source FaaS platforms. To automate reproducible FaaS performance experiments, we provide the FaaS Runner as a multithreaded FaaS client. FaaS Runner provides a programmable client that can orchestrate over one thousand concurrent FaaS function calls. The ReportGenerator is then used to aggregate experiment output into CSV files for consumption by popular data analytics tools. SAAF and its supporting tools combined can assess forty-eight distinct metrics to enhance observability of serverless software deployments. In this tutorial paper, we describe SAAF and its supporting tools and provide examples of observability insights that can be derived.