SOCK: Rapid Task Provisioning with Serverless-Optimized Containers


Edward Oakes, Leon Yang, Dennis Zhou, and Kevin Houck, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Tyler Harter, Microsoft, GSL; Andrea C. Arpaci-Dusseau and Remzi H. Arpaci-Dusseau, University of Wisconsin-Madison


Serverless computing promises to provide applications with cost savings and extreme elasticity. Unfortunately, slow application and container initialization can hurt common-case latency on serverless platforms. In this work, we analyze Linux container primitives, identifying scalability bottlenecks related to storage and network isolation. We also analyze Python applications from GitHub and show that importing many popular libraries adds about 100ms to startup. Based on these findings, we implement SOCK, a container system optimized for serverless workloads. Careful avoidance of kernel scalability bottlenecks gives SOCK an 18x speedup over Docker. A generalized-Zygote provisioning strategy yields an additional 3x speedup. A more sophisticated three-tier caching strategy based on Zygotes provides a 45x speedup over SOCK without Zygotes. Relative to AWS Lambda and OpenWhisk, OpenLambda with SOCK reduces platform overheads by 2.8x and 5.3x respectively in an image processing case study.

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@inproceedings {216031,
author = {Edward Oakes and Leon Yang and Dennis Zhou and Kevin Houck and Tyler Harter and Andrea Arpaci-Dusseau and Remzi Arpaci-Dusseau},
title = {{SOCK}: Rapid Task Provisioning with {Serverless-Optimized} Containers},
booktitle = {2018 USENIX Annual Technical Conference (USENIX ATC 18)},
year = {2018},
isbn = {978-1-931971-44-7},
address = {Boston, MA},
pages = {57--70},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = jul

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