Dataset Open Access

The State of Serverless Applications: Collection,Characterization, and Community Consensus - Replication Package

Simon Eismann; Joel Scheuner; Erwin van Eyk; Maximilian Schwinger; Johannes Grohmann; NIkolas Herbst; Cristina Abad

The replication package for our article The State of Serverless Applications: Collection,Characterization, and Community Consensus provides everything required to reproduce all results for the following three studies:

  • Serverless Application Collection
  • Serverless Application Characterization
  • Comparison Study

Serverless Application Collection

We collect descriptions of serverless applications from open-source projects, academic literature, industrial literature, and scientific computing.

Open-source Applications

As a starting point, we used an existing data set on open-source serverless projects from this study. We removed small and inactive projects based on the number of files, commits, contributors, and watchers. Next, we manually filtered the resulting data set to include only projects that implement serverless applications. We provide a table containing all projects that remained after the filtering alongside the notes from the manual filtering.

Academic Literature Applications

We based our search on an existing community-curated dataset on literature for serverless computing consisting of over 180 peer-reviewed articles. First, we filtered the articles based on title and abstract. In a second iteration, we filtered out any articles that implement only a single function for evaluation purposes or do not include sufficient detail to enable a review. As the authors were familiar with some additional publications describing serverless applications, we contributed them to the community-curated dataset and included them in this study. We provide a table with our notes from the manual filtering.

Scientific Computing Applications

Most of these scientific computing serverless applications are still at an early stage and therefore there is little public data available. One of the authors is employed at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) at the time of writing, which allowed us to collect information about several projects at DLR that are either currently moving to serverless solutions or are planning to do so. Additionally, an application from the German Electron Synchrotron (DESY) could be included. For each of these scientific computing applications, we provide a document containing a description of the project and the names of our contacts that provided information for the characterization of these applications.

  • SC1 Copernicus Sentinel-1 for near-real-time water monitoring
  • SC2 Reprocessing Sentinel 5 Precursor data with ProEO
  • SC3 High-Performance Data Analytics for Earth Observation
  • SC4 Tandem-L exploitation platform
  • SC5 Global Urban Footprint
  • SC6 DESY - High Throughput Data Taking

Collection of serverless applications

Based on the previously described methodology, we collected a diverse dataset of 89 serverless applications from open-source projects, academic literature, industrial literature, and scientific computing. This dataset is can be found in Dataset.xlsx.

Serverless Application Characterization

As previously described, we collected 89 serverless applications from four different sources. Subsequently, two randomly assigned reviewers out of seven available reviewers characterized each application along 22 characteristics in a structured collaborative review sheet. The characteristics and potential values were defined a priori by the authors and iteratively refined, extended, and generalized during the review process. The initial moderate inter-rater agreement was followed by a discussion and consolidation phase, where all differences between the two reviewers were discussed and resolved. The six scientific applications were not publicly available and therefore characterized by a single domain expert, who is either involved in the development of the applications or in direct contact with the development team.

Initial Ratings & Interrater Agreement Calculation

The initial reviews are available as a table, where every application is characterized along with the 22 characteristics. A single value indicates that both reviewers assigned the same value, whereas a value of the form [Reviewer 2] A | [Reviewer 4] B indicates that for this characteristic, reviewer two assigned the value A, whereas reviewer assigned the value B.

Our script for the calculation of the Fleiß-Kappa score based on this data is also publically available. It requires the python package pandas and statsmodels. It does not require any input and assumes that the file Initial Characterizations.csv is located in the same folder. It can be executed as follows:

python3 CalculateKappa.py

Results Including Unknown Data

In the following discussion and consolidation phase, the reviewers compared their notes and tried to reach a consensus for the characteristics with conflicting assignments. In a few cases, the two reviewers had different interpretations of a characteristic. These conflicts were discussed among all authors to ensure that characteristic interpretations were consistent. However, for most conflicts, the consolidation was a quick process as the most frequent type of conflict was that one reviewer found additional documentation that the other reviewer did not find.

For six characteristics, many applications were assigned the ''Unknown'' value, i.e., the reviewers were not able to determine the value of this characteristic. Therefore, we excluded these characteristics from this study. For the remaining characteristics, the percentage of ''Unknowns'' ranges from 0–19% with two outliers at 25% and 30%. These ''Unknowns'' were excluded from the percentage values presented in the article. As part of our replication package, we provide the raw results for each characteristic including the ''Unknown'' percentages in the form of bar charts.

The script for the generation of these bar charts is also part of this replication package). It uses the python packages pandasnumpy, and matplotlib. It does not require any input and assumes that the file Dataset.csv is located in the same folder. It can be executed as follows:

python3 GenerateResultsIncludingUnknown.py

Final Dataset & Figure Generation

In the following discussion and consolidation phase, the reviewers compared their notes and tried to reach a consensus for the characteristics with conflicting assignments. In a few cases, the two reviewers had different interpretations of a characteristic. These conflicts were discussed among all authors to ensure that characteristic interpretations were consistent. However, for most conflicts, the consolidation was a quick process as the most frequent type of conflict was that one reviewer found additional documentation that the other reviewer did not find. Following this process, we were able to resolve all conflicts, resulting in a collection of 89 applications described by 18 characteristics. This dataset is available here: link

The script to generate all figures shown in the chapter "Serverless Application Characterization can be found here. It does not require any input but assumes that the file Dataset.csv is located in the same folder. It uses the python packages pandasnumpy, and matplotlib. It can be executed as follows:

python3 GenerateFigures.py

Comparison Study

To identify existing surveys and datasets that also investigate one of our characteristics, we conducted a literature search using Google as our search engine, as we were mostly looking for grey literature. We used the following search term:

("serverless" OR "faas") AND ("dataset" OR "survey" OR "report") after: 2018-01-01

This search term looks for any combination of either serverless or faas alongside any of the terms dataset, survey, or report. We further limited the search to any articles after 2017, as serverless is a fast-moving field and therefore any older studies are likely outdated already. This search term resulted in a total of 173 search results. In order to validate if using only a single search engine is sufficient, and if the search term is broad enough, we checked if the seven studies the authors were already familiar with are contained in the search results. As all seven studies were contained in the search results, we concluded that the literature search was broad enough. In a first iteration, we filtered out all results that do not either report original data or report on data from another study. Next, we removed all reports on secondary data, where the original study was already contained in the search results. This process resulted in a total of 16 identified studies. Finally, we determined for each identified study if they investigate one of our characteristics. This resulted in a total of ten related studies. The results from the literature search and the notes from the filtering are part of this replication package as a table.

As these studies use different answer options than our study, we mapped their answer options to ours. In many cases, this was straightforward, such as mapping HTTP to HTTP Request. If the answer option granularities between the studies differed, we aggregated answer options from the study with lower granularity to match the higher granularity study. In case the lower granularity study allowed multiple answers, we selected only the highest value instead of aggregating them, to avoid counting a single study participant multiple times. As this mapping process is somewhat subjective, we provide a detailed account of the mapping for each characteristic and related study as a multi-sheet excel table, where each sheet shows our mapping alongside our notes which answer options were mapped.

For many studies, not all information required for traditional meta-analysis techniques, such as cohort size, is available, preventing the application of these meta-analysis techniques. Therefore, we came up with an agreement metric that equally weights the agreement of the reported ranking and the agreement of the reported percentage values. It combines the relative difference between the reported percentages of both studies and the order of the reported popularities of the answer options. We categorize scores in the range [0.8, 1] as very high agreement, [0.6,0.6[ as high agreement, [0.4, 0.6[ as medium agreement, [0.2, 0.4[ as low agreement, and [0, 0.2[ as very low agreement. We acknowledge that these categories are somewhat arbitrary, however, based on a manual inspection of the results, they do seem to capture the level of agreement between the individual studies quite well. Our replication package includes the mapped data alongside the resulting scores to enable a manual inspection of the degree of agreement. The script that implements the calculation of our score is also publically available. It uses the python packages pandasnumpy, and scipy. The script does not require any input and assumes that the file Comparison Mappings.xlsx is located in the same folder. The script can be executed as follows:

python3 corroboration_analysis.py

Further, the script to generate all figures shown in the chapter Comparison Analysis is the final piece of our replication package: link. It uses the python packages numpy and matplotlib. It does not require any input and can be executed as follows:

python3 barcharts.py

If you have any questions about our study or require any additional information/data please contact the first author.

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