Infrastructure

IBM Cloud teams with Google and open community to help build Knative and expand the power of serverless

Share this post:

Today, in collaboration with Google Cloud and the open community, we are one step closer to ending the serverless versus containers debate among developers.

We’ve long been of the belief that developers shouldn’t have to choose between the two when building a new app on the cloud. Ideally, the consistency and availability of containers should be augmented with the powerful scaling and on-demand access to the cloud that serverless provides.

Introducing Knative

This is why we’ve teamed with Google Cloud and the open community to build Knative, a new open source project that provides the building blocks for serverless platforms to run on top of Kubernetes. Knative provides serverless capabilities with a Kubernetes-native foundation and broadens the spectrum of applications that can take advantage of the real-time cloud access, minimal infrastructure concerns and scale that serverless architectures offer.

Ultimately, we anticipate Knative becoming a foundational component for serverless architectures that can take advantage of all types of cloud-native tools. For example, Knative could one day enable a developer to use Apache OpenWhisk to orchestrate all parts of a cloud app in a serverless fashion, such as running both containers and functions-as-a-service events, all on-demand and on an as-needed basis. This could drastically expand the scope of how serverless tools such as OpenWhisk can be used, evolving beyond functions into a complete foundation for full-scale apps in production.

Battle-tested serverless technology

As active contributors to Knative, we supplied our experiences building OpenWhisk, the serverless incubator project we donated to the Apache Foundation in close partnership with tech leaders such as Adobe and RedHat.

While building OpenWhisk, we’ve been using its same codebase as the core of our commercially offered serverless tool: IBM Cloud Functions. The lessons we’ve learned from implementing serverless architectures for clients has helped us to improve and harden OpenWhisk at the same time, making it one of the few – if not the only – open serverless projects that has been battle-tested in big production environments. This large-scale expertise is critical for Knative to mature in this same way, and will open up the door for it to serve as an orchestration and routing layer underneath serverless technologies such as OpenWhisk.

When we began our journey with serverless, we quickly recognized that a common concern is the potential vendor lock-in it can generate. This is why we believe the implementation of serverless runtimes should be done in the open and why we rapidly donated OpenWhisk to the open community. Besides avoiding vendor lock-in, open development brings the strengths of technology leaders together and spurs the creation of what’s needed most to solve developer challenges.

“IBM’s deep expertise helping businesses build with serverless, and extensive experience with open technologies such as Kubernetes, Istio and OpenWhisk makes them an ideal partner to provide real-world leadership and hands-on contributions to Knative,” said DeWitt Clinton of Google Cloud.

The launch of Knative is just the beginning. We see many opportunities with this project, and we plan to continue contributing our talent and resources to it. We will evolve how Knative can be used with OpenWhisk and expand how companies can use it as the base for their apps. Below is how we envision OpenWhisk, Knative and Kubernetes building on top of each other:

Knative architecture

Development in the open

Besides our activities in the serverless space, we’re extremely active in other areas of the open community redefining how cloud platforms are built, including containers. We are strong contributors to and operators of Kubernetes and the projects spurred by its ecosystem. We defined and founded the Istio project with Google Cloud. Our work to build open innovation has grown our IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service into a way for companies around the world to build with containers with the right mix of performance and security that works best for them. As open projects such as Knative continue to grow, we’re exploring different ways to evolve how containers can be used in tandem with these emerging technologies even further.

To help our users to gain their first hands-on experience around Knative, we created instructions on how to setup Knative on the IBM Cloud Kubernetes service. Give it a try and get involved with Knative.

Note: Statements regarding the future direction of IBM and intent are subject to change or withdrawal without notice, and represent goals and objectives only.

More Infrastructure stories

Icelandic agency uses IBM Cloud to improve road quality management

Iceland is well known for its changeable weather. Clear skies can turn into icy blizzards in moments. It’s easy for people travelling on the country’s roads to underestimate the risks, which is why it’s vital that the road infrastructure is kept in good condition. Roads must be able to be cleared of snow and ice […]

Continue reading

IBM, Google Cloud and the open community launch Istio 1.0 to bring microservices to the enterprise

Just over a year ago, we launched the first release of Istio in collaboration with Google Cloud, Lyft and the open community. Since then, Istio has become a popular and active open service mesh project with hundreds of contributors and users from startups and global airlines to international data networks. In collaboration with Google Cloud, […]

Continue reading

IBM unveils major expansion of cloud capabilities and global availability zones

What does it take to be the cloud for enterprise? How can IBM Cloud better empower clients to digitally transform their businesses? These are the questions we set out to answer at IBM every day. Knowing what it means to be the cloud for enterprise doesn’t require an army of market researchers and focus groups. […]

Continue reading