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Portals: Teleporting smart edge services to a serverless future

Philipp Haller
October 19, 2023

Portals: Teleporting smart edge services to a serverless future

Philipp Haller

October 19, 2023


  1. Digital Futures
    2023-09-05 1

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  2. Digital Futures
    PORTALS: Teleporting smart
    edge services to a serverless
    Philipp Haller

    Associate Professor, EECS/TCS

    KTH Royal Institute of Technology
    2023-09-05 2

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  3. Project team
    Philipp Haller

    Associate Professor, KTH
    Paris Carbone

    Senior researcher, RISE

    Assistant Professor, KTH
    Jonas Spenger

    Researcher, RISE

    PhD student, KTH

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  4. Digital Futures
    Context: Large-Scale Data-Driven
    • Modern digital services leveraging large amounts of data are
    challenging to make trustful, reliable and scalable

    • Data privacy and reliability essential due to sensitivity of data

    • Scalability essential due to size of data or user base

    • Reliability and scalability requires constructing digital services as
    distributed systems

    • Tolerating faults (of compute nodes or the network)

    • Scaling compute and storage resources on demand
    2023-10-19 4

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  5. Digital Futures
    Challenges of Distributed Systems
    Building reliable and scalable distributed systems is challenging

    • Fault tolerance requires sophisticated distributed algorithms

    • Scalability requires complex concurrent programming

    • Data consistency may increase latency and reduce availability

    • Data-privacy legislation like GDPR is difficult to enforce

    • Dynamic updates or enhancements challenging
    2023-10-19 5

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  6. Digital Futures
    How to Handle these Challenges?
    • Various system architectures and programming frameworks have been

    • The latest developments include Serverless Computing

    • Applications decomposed into functions that are invoked in
    response to events (FaaS — Function-as-a-Service)

    • Key innovation: allocate compute resources automatically → scale
    up and down (even to zero) according to demand

    • No manual provisioning of virtual machines → “serverless”

    • Partially addresses fault tolerance, scalability and dynamic updates
    2023-10-19 6

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  7. Digital Futures
    Challenges of Serverless
    • Key aspects remain responsibilities of applications:

    • Challenge: enforcing strong data consistency on top of weak
    consistency provided by serverless framework

    • Challenge: data privacy

    • Added challenge: enforcing data-privacy legislation

    • These are essential for trust and privacy
    2023-10-19 7

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  8. Digital Futures
    PORTALS: Objectives
    The objectives of the PORTALS project are to develop:

    • A decentralized serverless system architecture

    • Enabling deployment of “workflows” on the edge and in the cloud

    • A programming model to support a wide range of applications

    • Flexible inter-workflow communication via “portals”

    • Principled data processing via “atomic streams”

    • A formalization and a proof of execution guarantees and correctness

    • A prototype implementation enabling experimental evaluation and extension
    2023-10-19 8

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  9. Digital Futures
    • The units of computation: DAGs of stateful tasks

    • Consume and produce streams of events
    2023-10-19 9
    ow[T, U]
    src sink
    AtomicStream[T] AtomicStream[U]

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  10. Digital Futures
    Atomic Processing Contract
    Data is processed through atomic (transactional) steps:

    1. Consume an atom (“batch of events”) from the input stream

    2. Process the entire atom

    3. Produce side effects (new events, state updates)
    2023-10-19 10
    ow[T, U]
    src sink
    AtomicStream[T] AtomicStream[U]

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  11. Digital Futures
    • A Portal exposes a dataflow as a service via bidirectional communication
    2023-10-19 11
    src tasks sink
    Requests Replies
    Portal Service
    Requests Replies
    Portal Service

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  12. Digital Futures
    Portals Open Source Project
    • A prototype implementation under active development

    • Open source, Apache 2.0 license

    • Written in Scala 3, a high-level language combining functional and
    object-oriented programming

    • Repository on GitHub:

    2023-10-19 12

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  13. Digital Futures
    Portals Playground
    • The Portals playground enables running Portals-based applications in the
    web browser: portals-project.org/playground/

    • Made possible by compiling the Portals framework to JavaScript using
    Scala.js, the Scala-to-JavaScript compiler
    2023-10-05 13

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  14. Digital Futures
    Selected Publications
    • Spenger, Carbone, Haller. Portals: an Extension of Dataflow Streaming for Stateful
    Serverless. ACM SIGPLAN Onward! 2022


    • Spenger, Huang, Haller, Carbone. Portals: A Showcase of Multi-Dataflow Stateful
    Serverless. PVLDB 16(12): 4054-4057 (2023)


    • Spenger, Carbone, Haller: A Survey of Actor-Like Programming Models for Serverless
    Computing. Active Object Languages: Current Research Trends, Springer LNCS, to

    • Project website with all papers and talks:

    2023-10-19 14

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  15. Digital Futures
    Thank you for
    2023-09-05 15

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