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Spotlight: Alex Ellis

Creator of OpenFaaS

Alex Ellis
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Hey Alex, can you tell us about your background?

I started by breaking computers, a little later I started fixing them for the school and even earned some money that way. My first business venture was a receipt printing program that I built for a customer in Florida. It was written in Visual Basic, and he mailed me a cheque for it.

What inspired you to build OpenFaaS?

OpenFaaS fits a gap between managed cloud functions and self-hosted. Around the time I wrote the prototype, I was really into containers and wondered how I could bring the AWS Lambda style of serverless to people who were running containers.

How many other core contributors work on OpenFaaS today, apart from yourself?

Around 2017 the community started to grow, and now there are hundreds of contributors and dozens of end-user companies.

OpenFaaS Logo
27.5K+
projects using
329
total contributors
~5 years
since first release

What problem does OpenFaaS solve for its users?

For commercial users, OpenFaaS provides serverless without the lock-in; it’s great for event-driven workloads, synchronous APIs, and processing data. If your code can run in a Docker container, it can probably run on OpenFaaS and then benefit from auto-scaling, metrics, queuing, and a simple API over Kubernetes.

What are some major features coming up in OpenFaaS in the next releases?

We are focusing on enterprise features and how to make OpenFaaS a sustainable project that everyone can benefit from long into the future. We take sponsorships via GitHub and have PRO features available too. I hope that the million and billion dollar companies using OpenFaaS in production will help support it. We’re so far off from that today, so it’s crucial for us all.

What has been the most frequent feature request from users in the project that you haven’t gotten to yet?

Open source can be a very one-sized experience for maintainers, where you tend to only hear from people when something is broken. We are getting to a brand new UI and retries for failed requests.

We stopped working on OpenFaaS Cloud, which now means we have more time to focus on the core.

Who is the ideal user of OpenFaaS? What are some use cases of using OpenFaaS?

If you have some code that you want to run in a container, then OpenFaaS is a perfect option. If you want that to auto-scale, record metrics, and run async, it can save you a lot of work. Typical workloads look like: APIs, ETL, CLI binaries for network or security scanning, generating blogs and static content, and infrastructure automation.

Are there any success stories about other people or organizations using this project that you would like to share?

You can read more about use-cases and a list of companies that permitted us to list their use in the ADOPTERS file.

If someone wants to support the development of GitUI, where can they donate?

GitHub Sponsorship is the best place to start; you’ll get weekly emails from me and access to discounts on my eBooks.

Companies can also sponsor via GitHub or find out more about PRO features and support on the website.

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