Occupy the Cloud: Distributed Computing for the 99%

Authors: Eric Jonas, Qifan Pu, Shivaram Venkataraman, Ion Stoica, Benjamin Recht

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Distributed computing remains inaccessible to a large number of users, in spite of many open source platforms and extensive commercial offerings. While distributed computation frameworks have moved beyond a simple map-reduce model, many users are still left to struggle with complex cluster management and configuration tools, even for running simple embarrassingly parallel jobs. We argue that stateless functions represent a viable platform for these users, eliminating cluster management overhead, fulfilling the promise of elasticity. Furthermore, using our prototype implementation, PyWren, we show that this model is general enough to implement a number of distributed computing models, such as BSP, efficiently. Extrapolating from recent trends in network bandwidth and the advent of disaggregated storage, we suggest that stateless functions are a natural fit for data processing in future computing environments.

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