Project Kratos: AWS Lambda functionality, without Amazon lock-in

Amazon AWS Lambda's premise is audacious: event-driven applications made of little more than pure functions in Python, Java, or Node.js.

Iron.io, creator of a task-queuing platform that runs across multiple clouds, is preparing a similar platform that runs on any cloud or local architecture and uses Docker containers as the basic unit of the service.

Project Kratos allows enterprises to take either existing AWS Lambda functions or Dockerized workloads and deploy them in a stateless fashion. A "runner agent" cluster listens for work queued up via Iron.io's RESTful API. The agent cluster stores metadata about the job -- whether it completed successfully, how to deal with retrying failed jobs -- but all other state data has to be manually managed by the applications themselves.

While Kratos and Iron.io make use of some open source projects, the core of Kratos is not intended to be open source. Given that part of Iron.io's plan is to avoid lock-in with services like AWS Lambda, the approach seems counterintuitive. Instead, the company will offer its protocols as an open project, with other open source elements possibly to follow.

"We don't have much of an interest in becoming a support and services company," said Iron.io CEO and co-founder Chad Arimura in a phone interview, citing the fate of most outfits based on open source. "Enterprises want an open source story, but they don't want to rely on just open source software. They want a commercial offering as a complement, which they can trust running this stuff."

The company's success with its existing customers, Arimura said, means there's been little momentum to become open source. "We want to put investment money into the product and the platform itself, because there's a lot of value on top," such as the dashboarding, reporting, and analytics solutions.

The lightweight, just-enough-code approach popularized by AWS Lambda has spawned a slew of projects that extend on it (ZappaJaws), and frank imitation from competing cloud vendors (Google Cloud Functions). But Arimura thinks of Iron.io in more general terms.

"We're like a layer on top of all compute," Arimura said, a "job API for developers," as opposed to merely being "a widget that manages Docker containers."

Iron.io is currently soliciting applications for Kratos's public beta. Arimura anticipates a release to the general public within the next 60 days or so.

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