“Firecracker is an open source virtualization technology that is purpose-built for creating and managing secure, multi-tenant containers and functions-based services.”
One of the great things embedded in Amazon Web Services DNA is their unparalleled vision and innovation in the compute resource space. In the cloud first era, AWS has constantly redefined what a compute resource is and should be. From the very start, AWS provided compute resource in the form of instances (virtualized servers), which quickly became the norm for customer compute resource. In more recent times, this innovation has continued in the form of services like ECS, Fargate, EKS, and Lambda, supported by underlying container technologies such as Docker. A constant theme in this innovation has been the miniaturization of compute resources, shrinking from monolithic instances to containers to serverless functions. Launching and leveraging smaller units of compute resource provides benefits to both AWS and its customers. AWS can distribute, balance and pack these smaller compute units more densely across its global, regional, and zonal physical resources. Customers can optimize their varying usage requirements versus spend equation.
AWS has leveraged container technology as an enabler for much of this miniaturization, providing a key advantage of faster launch times for the compute resource. However, running containers at scale in highly multi-tenanted environments has its own challenges, particularly when it comes to enforcing and ensuring security.
With all this in mind, AWS announced that they have made Firecracker open source at re:Invent 2018. Firecracker is their latest rethink to address the requirements of running multi-tenanted secured micro sized workloads. Firecracker provides a new type of virtualization technology which utilizes Linux KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machines) and provides a RESTful-based API interface to a virtual machine manager (VMM). Spinning up and configuring microVMs is performed via the RESTful API. With Firecracker, you can launch literally thousands of micro-virtual machines, requiring only 5MiB of memory overhead per VM with sub-second launch time (<125ms). A microVM has all of the advantages typically associated with a virtual machine, but in a smaller and more compact footprint, accomplished without compromising on security and boundary isolation between guests on the same multi-tenanted host.
Firecracker has been designed and developed with the following key tenets :
- Built-In Security: We provide compute security barriers that enable multi-tenant workloads and cannot be mistakenly disabled by customers. Customer workloads are simultaneously considered sacred (shall not be touched) and malicious (shall be defended against).
- Light-weight Virtualization: We focus on transient or stateless workloads over long-running or persistent workloads. Firecracker’s hardware resources overhead is known and guaranteed.
- Minimalist in Features: If it’s not clearly required for our mission, we won’t build it. We maintain a single implementation per capability.
- Compute Oversubscription: All of the hardware compute resources exposed by Firecracker to guests can be securely oversubscribed.
To get Firecracker up and running you’ll need access to a bare metal server running Linux with KVM. AWS provides the i3. metal instance, but you can also run it on your workstation or other provider-supplied bare metal servers. If you’re considering using the i3.metal instance for running Firecracker, take into account the cost of running this beast (36 hyper-threaded cores, 512 GiB, 15.2TB SSD – costing $4.992 per hour On-Demand in Oregon).
From what I can tell having briefly read the docs and played with the technology, there aren’t many, if any, restrictions on what workload types can be processed within a microVM running on Firecracker. Having said that, and as the product name potentially implies, Firecracker’s niche spot is probably aimed at short-lived bursts of compute activity, since this is also evidenced by the fact that both Lambda and Fargate services now use Firecracker under the hood and were likely influencing its design. However, there really is no reason why longer-lived workloads can’t also be processed using this technology.
Let’s quickly summarize Firecracker key features:
- Millisecond launch time can be as low 125ms with 5MiB memory overhead
- Fully fledged micro virtual machines – not just containers
- Ring-fenced security and isolation enforced between microVMs on the same host
- Authored in Rust (https://www.rust-lang.org/)
- Requires Linux and KVM
- Now used internally by Fargate and Lambda
- Open sourced under the Apache version 2.0 license
- Documentation portal: https://firecracker-microvm.github.io/
- Source: https://github.com/firecracker-microvm/firecracker
Firecracker looks to be both promising and popular for provisioning compute resources. In the first 24 hours since announcement, the Firecracker GitHub repository has already accumulated 21 Pull Requests from community contributors, with several more new ones appearing during the time this blog post was authored. Indeed, this latest AWS compute resource innovation has *sparked* a lot of interest.
Go ahead and light the fuse…
Are you at re:Invent this year? Come visit us at booth #1809 and speak to a member of our team to see how we can transform your cloud training.
New Content: Azure DP-100 Certification, Alibaba Cloud Certified Associate Prep, 13 Security Labs, and Much More
This past month our Content Team served up a heaping spoonful of new and updated content. Not only did our experts release the brand new Azure DP-100 Certification Learning Path, but they also created 18 new hands-on labs — and so much more! New content on Cloud Academy At any time, y...
AWS Certification Practice Exam: What to Expect from Test Questions
If you’re building applications on the AWS cloud or looking to get started in cloud computing, certification is a way to build deep knowledge in key services unique to the AWS platform. AWS currently offers 12 certifications that cover major cloud roles including Solutions Architect, De...
Overcoming Unprecedented Business Challenges with AWS
From auto-scaling applications with high availability to video conferencing that’s used by everyone, every day — cloud technology has never been more popular or in-demand. But what does this mean for experienced cloud professionals and the challenges they face as they carve out a new p...
Constant Content: Cloud Academy’s Q3 2020 Roadmap
Hello — Andy Larkin here, VP of Content at Cloud Academy. I am pleased to release our roadmap for the next three months of 2020 — August through October. Let me walk you through the content we have planned for you and how this content can help you gain skills, get certified, and...
New Content: Alibaba, Azure AZ-303 and AZ-304, Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) Foundation, Python 3 Programming, 16 Hands-on Labs, and Much More
This month our Content Team did an amazing job at publishing and updating a ton of new content. Not only did our experts release the brand new AZ-303 and AZ-304 Certification Learning Paths, but they also created 16 new hands-on labs — and so much more! New content on Cloud Academy At...
Blog Digest: Which Certifications Should I Get?, The 12 Microsoft Azure Certifications, 6 Ways to Prevent a Data Breach, and More
This month, we were excited to announce that Cloud Academy was recognized in the G2 Summer 2020 reports! These reports highlight the top-rated solutions in the industry, as chosen by the source that matters most: customers. We're grateful to have been nominated as a High Performer in se...
Which Certifications Should I Get?
The old AWS slogan, “Cloud is the new normal” is indeed a reality today. Really, cloud has been the new normal for a while now and getting credentials has become an increasingly effective way to quickly showcase your abilities to recruiters and companies. With all that in mind, the s...
New Content: AWS, Azure, Typescript, Java, Docker, 13 New Labs, and Much More
This month, our Content Team released a whopping 13 new labs in real cloud environments! If you haven't tried out our labs, you might not understand why we think that number is so impressive. Our labs are not “simulated” experiences — they are real cloud environments using accounts on A...
Kickstart Your Tech Training With a Free Week on Cloud Academy
Are you looking to make a jump in your technical career? Want to get trained or certified on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, DevOps, Kubernetes, Python, or another in-demand skill? Then you'll want to mark your calendar. Starting Monday, June 22 at 12:00 a.m. PDT (3:00 a.m. EDT), ...
New Content: AZ-500 and AZ-400 Updates, 3 Google Professional Exam Preps, Practical ML Learning Path, C# Programming, and More
This month, our Content Team released tons of new content and labs in real cloud environments. Not only that, but we introduced our very first highly interactive "Office Hours" webinar. This webinar, Acing the AWS Solutions Architect Associate Certification, started with a quick overvie...
Azure vs. AWS: Which Certification Provides the Brighter Future?
More and more companies are using cloud services, prompting more and more people to switch their current IT position to something cloud-related. The problem is most people only have that much time after work to learn new technologies, and there are plenty of cloud services that you can ...
Blog Digest: 5 Reasons to Get AWS Certified, OWASP Top 10, Getting Started with VPCs, Top 10 Soft Skills, and More
Thank you for being a valued member of our community! We recently sent out a short survey to understand what type of content you would like us to add to Cloud Academy, and we want to thank everyone who gave us their input. If you would like to complete the survey, it's not too late. It ...