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April 7, 2020

Apache Flink Gets More Stateful

An updated application programming interface for building and orchestrating stateful applications, so-called because such programs retain client data from one session to the next, is also the first event-driven database built on the popular Apache Flink stream processing engine.

Ververica, the company behind open source Apache Flink, this week unveiled an updated version of its Stateful Functions framework designed to extend Flink into the world of distributed, stateful applications. The toolkit designed to give developers the ability to create stateful applications was unveiled last fall with the goal of providing developers a set of stateful functions while software runs atop Flink’s distributed data processing engine.

The updated version aims to scale the rollout of stateful applications by combining stream processing via Apache Flink with the serverless computing construct dubbed function as a service. FaaS is a serverless way to execute modular pieces of code, allowing developers to update code on the fly, which can then be executed in response to an event.

FaaS implementations are designed to allocate computing resources as needed to run a customer’s code rather than charging upfront for dedicated capacity.

While Apache Flink “provided the runtime with efficient exactly-once state and messaging,” Ververica’s co-founder and CTO Stephan Ewen, noted in a blog post,” the initial release of Stateful Functions “was a FaaS-inspired mix between stream processing and actor programming—on steroids.”

The new version released on Tuesday (April 7) “decouples functions from Flink,” Ewen continued, making it possible to “execute functions on a FaaS platform, a Kubernetes deployment or behind a (micro) service.”

The steady DevOps shift to serverless computing has helped drive the drive the emerging FaaS category. The Cloud Native Computing Foundation previously reported growing adoption of serverless architectures such as Amazon Web Services’ (NASDAQ: AMZN) Lambda based on pay-as-you-go pricing model.

Ververica said the latest version of Stateful Functions combines its approach to state and composition with the “rolling upgrade capabilities of FaaS implementations like AWS Lambda and modern resource orchestration frameworks like Kubernetes.”

Ververica (formerly Data Artisans) was acquired last year by the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba (NYSE: BABA). It is releasing its software under an Apache 2.0 license.

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