Rodric Rabbah  Rodric Rabbah photo       

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Cloud Programming Technology
Thomas J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY USA
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Professional Associations:  ACM

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I'm a research staff member at IBM Research and a member of the Cloud Programming Technology group. Prior to joining IBM, I was a research scientist at MIT CSAIL.

In early 2015, a small group of us in Research started a new effort to bring a cloud-first and distributed event-based programming service to market. In February 2016 at IBM InterConnect in Las Vegas, OpenWhisk was announced publicly for the first time with availability on Bluemix and on GitHub. This past December, platform became generally available. OpenWhisk was also admitted into the Apache Software Foundation Incubator.

OpenWhisk started as a small IBM Research endeavor, and grew significantly with two objectives: One, realize the compelling promise of serverless programming for cloud native applications. And two, seed the open source and research communities with a robust foundation on which further advances in serverless programming may be fostered. I am proud to be one of the founding members of OpenWhisk and to have continued my contributions to this work in what I think is a testament to a new and reinvented IBM. I'm also responsible for the Whisk in OpenWhisk.

In developing OpenWhisk, my colleagues and I took a vertical approach that crossed many levels of abstraction from applications, to programming model, runtime and system architecture. This holistic approach is characteristic of my past contributions to research and open source, and is made possible by working along IBMers that have both broad skills and deep expertise in many facets of computer science and engineering.

I made my first contribution to open source as an undergraduate, working on Trimaran, a compiler and simulator for VLIW architectures. I contributed to and supported Trimaran for many years. It was particularly rewarding because Trimaran was used for teaching a few compiler courses around the world. At MIT, I contributed to StreamIt, a language, compiler and runtime for stream programming. I later developed and co-taught a multicore programming primer as MIT OpenCourseWare. After joining IBM, I helped start Liquid Metal, a research effort that produced a language, compiler, and runtime for high level synthesis of reconfigurable hardware. This too made it to the public domain, albeit in limited form.

I am extremely excited by the potential OpenWhisk holds for IBM, the open source community, and academic research.

Technical notes

Highlights

OpenWhisk news coverage from initial launch

  • "OpenWhisk is coming into the world more fully baked [than AWS' Lambda]" InformationWeek
  • "The new open-source cloud product announced, OpenWhisk, is a shot across Amazon’s bow." – Forbes
  • "IBM’s work around Swift, OpenWhisk and API Connect are worthy of attention." – Redmonk
  • "OpenWhisk is IBM’s answer to Amazon Web Services’ event driven system Lambda."  – Business Cloud News
  • "OpenWhisk event-driven platform runs on Bluemix and has one advantage those other two platforms [Amazon Lambda and Google Cloud Function] don't". – InfoWorld
  • "IBM is also launching a new cloud service called Bluemix OpenWhisk that represents an answer to Lambda event-driven computing service from public cloud market leader Amazon Web Services (AWS)."VentureBeat
  • "The bottom line is that this serverless computing technology is ushering in a new way for developers to build applications, particularly apps serving the Internet of Things market."Network World
  • "Servers? We don’t need no stinkin’ servers." TechSpective