When Serverless Means No Server


Yiying Zhang

Assistant Professor, Computer Science and Engineering Department at UCSD


Monday, November 4 
11:00am - 12:00pm

Room 1202, EBU-3B


Datacenters have been using the "monolithic" server model for decades, where each server hosts a set of hardware devices like CPU and DRAM on a motherboard and runs an OS on top to manage the hardware resources. In recent years, cloud providers offer a type of service called "serverless computing" in response to cloud users' desire for not managing servers/VMs/containers. Serverless computing quickly gained popularity, but today's serverless computing still runs on datacenter servers. The monolithic server model is not the best fit for serverless computing and it fundamentally restricts datacenters from achieving efficient resource packing, hardware rightsizing, and great heterogeneity.

We propose to "disaggregate" monolithic servers into network-attached hardware components that host different hardware resources and offer different functionalities (e.g., a processor component for computation, a memory component for fast data accesses). After evolving from physical (DC-1.0) to virtual (DC-2.0), we envision datacenters to evolve further into a disaggregated one (DC-3.0), where hardware resources can be allocated and scaled to the exact amount that applications use and can be individually managed and customized for different application needs. By not having servers, DC-3.0 disrupts designs and technologies in almost every layer in today's datacenters, from hardware and networking to OS and applications. In this talk, I will introduce my lab's pioneering efforts in building an end-to-end solution for DC-3.0 with a new OS, a new hardware platform, a new network system, and a new serverless computing platform.


Yiying Zhang is an assistant professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department at UCSD. Her research interests span operating systems, distributed systems, computer architecture, and datacenter networking. She also works on the intersection of systems and programming language, security, and AI/ML. She won an OSDI best paper award in 2018, a SYSTOR best paper award in 2019, and an NSF CAREER award in 2019. Yiying’s lab is among the few groups in the world now that build new OSes and full-stack, cross-layer systems. Yiying received her Ph.D. from the Department of Computer Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before joining UCSD in fall 2019, she was an assistant professor at Purdue ECE for four years.