Blog by Simon Frey

How Firecracker microVMs work

2 min read

Dear awesome person,

I found this week’s paper while working on my thesis on an AWS Lambda related topic. If you ever wondered how the inner workings of AWS Lambda are and how the container/VM setup behind it looks, I think this paper is the closes we can get at the Moment. Sure Lambda is proprietary as of why there is no insight into the exact workings. The paper covers the Firecracker microVMs build by Amazon, and we can assume they are used in one way or another in Lambda.


Abstract:

Serverless containers and functions are widely used for deploying and managing software in the cloud. Their popularity is due to reduced cost of operations, improved utilization of hardware, and faster scaling than traditional deployment methods. The economics and scale of serverless applications demand that workloads from multiple customers run on the same hardware with minimal overhead, while preserving strong security and performance isolation. The traditional view is that there is a choice between virtualization with strong security and high overhead, and container technologies with weaker security and minimal overhead. This tradeoff is unacceptable to public infrastructure providers, who need both strong security and minimal overhead. To meet this need, we developed Fire-cracker, a new open source Virtual Machine Monitor (VMM)specialized for serverless workloads, but generally useful for containers, functions and other compute workloads within a reasonable set of constraints. We have deployed Firecracker in two publically available serverless compute services at Amazon Web Services (Lambda and Fargate), where it supports millions of production workloads, and trillions of requests per month. We describe how specializing for serverless in-formed the design of Firecracker, and what we learned from seamlessly migrating Lambda customers to Firecracker

Download Link:

https://www.usenix.org/system/files/nsdi20-paper-agache.pdf


With much love, Simon Frey

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