Serviceprototypinglab Snafu Save

The Swiss Army Knife of Serverless Computing

Project README

Snafu: Snake Functions

Snafu is a tiny flexible Function-as-a-Service (FaaS) host process and tool for Python and other programming languages. Snafu is unique in reducing the effort to get going (no configuration is required, although a configuration file is available for optional customisation), in choosing the execution model (with and without isolation for instance), in exposure of functions, and in integration with other FaaS runtimes and commercial services.

Think of it as the 'Swiss Army Knife of Serverless Computing'!

Functions are read from specified source files. If no directory is specified, 'functions' with some sample functions as well as 'functions-local' for user-imported functions are scanned. The set of exported functions consists of all of them (convention name: any) or just one pre-defined function by default named 'lambda_handler' with specific arguments, for compatibility with AWS Lambda's Python 2.7 runtime (convention name: 'lambda'). For languages requiring compilation (i.e. Java), this is attempted transparently.

Functions are invoked through connectors, for instance HTTP requests or interactive command-line input or both at the same time. They correspond roughly to Lambda triggers. The invocations are recorded in loggers, for instance CSV files. They are furthermore checked against authenticators. All connectors, loggers, executors and authenticators are described below.

The utility script 'snafu-import' exists to slurp Lambda, OpenWhisk and Google Cloud functions and configurations for execution with Snafu or to some extent with other FaaS runtimes. Configuration support is limited to environment variables at the moment. Configuration files are read as *.config associated to *.py. In their absence, the handler name (.) becomes the function name.

The daemon 'snafu-control' implements a FaaS control plane in partial compliance to Lambda, OpenWhisk and Google Cloud Functions so that the respective command-line tools (aws, wsk, gcloud) can be used against it.

Snafu is implemented in Python 3 so that any Lambda functions need to be passed through the 2to3 tool which 'snafu-import' can automate. It is expected that Python 3 will be added to Lambda in the near future, making this step then obsolete. Alternatively, out-of-process execution exists for all supported programming languages, including Python 3 for improved parallel execution performance.

The runtime and success status of invoked functions are measured through the loggers and can be further processed for statistical analysis and billing purposes.


Python 3 is required. For the full functionality, install the 'flask' and 'pyesprima3' modules as well as compilers and interpreters for all supported languages (i.e. python2, python3, nodejs, gcc, javac/java).


Snafu runs interactively until interrupted with Ctrl+C.

% ./snafu [-h] % ./snafu --executor --logger --convention

e.g. ./snafu --executor python2stateful --logger sqlite

To fill up the functions pool with some already deployed in AWS, IBM or Google, use the import utility.

% ./snafu-import [--convert] [--source ] [--target ]

e.g. --source gfunctions: deploy from Google into Snafu

e.g. --source openwhisk --target funktion: from IBM into Funktion

Apart from hosting the functions, Snafu can also be used in batch processing to test functions systematically. For instance:

% echo "{}" | ./snafu -x lambda_function.lambda_handler

The control plane 'snafu-control' implements essential functionality found in the Lambda control plane via Snafu. Use aws-cli with the option --endpoint-url to redirect all requests to your instance (by default, it runs on http://localhost:10000/). It is highly recommended to add --cli-read-timeout 0 as well. The gcloud tool needs patching (tools/patch-gcloud), the wsk tool needs --apihost set to http://localhost:10000.

% ./snafu-control [-h]

e.g. ./snafu-control --reaper --deployer --authenticator aws

The file snafu.ini.dist can be copied to snafu.ini to customise the configuration of Snafu.

Connectors (only in snafu)

  • cli (interactive function name choice; payload asked or read from stdin)
  • web (function name chosen via URL path; payload via HTTP POST)
  • messaging (no function name choice apart from config; no payload choice: )
  • filesystem (no function name choice apart from config; no payload choice: )
  • cron (no function name choice apart from config; no payload choice: empty)


  • csv
  • sqlite
  • (none)


Note: one default executor is defined and can be overridden for each file type (.py, .js, .class, .so).

For Python:

  • inmemory (fastest, in-memory, only for truly stateless function)
  • inmemstateless (higher isolation level through module reload)
  • python2 (external
  • python2stateful (re-used instance with lower isolation level)
  • python3 (external)
  • lxc (wrapping function instances into LXC contexts for isolation)

For other programming languages:

  • java (external, under development)
  • javascript (external, under development)
  • c (external, under development)

Forwarders (only in snafu-control, as pseudo-executors)

  • proxy (redirect to another fixed or per-tenant instance of Snafu)
  • docker (redirect to a dynamically created per-tenant instance)
  • openshift (under development)

Authenticators (only in snafu-control)

  • aws (AWS4 signature algorithm)
  • (none)


  • imports: from Google Cloud Functions, OpenWhisk, AWS Lambda
  • exports: to Funktion, Fission, Kubeless + of course Snafu

Packaged Snafu

A containerised version is made available for running Snafu in a Docker environment. An alternate version of the image is complete rather than minimal and includes among others the command-line tools of several commercial FaaS providers.

% docker run -ti jszhaw/snafu % docker run -ti jszhaw/snafucomplete

Integration into OpenShift and Kubernetes is available for experiments and documented in the 'openshift' directory.

Furthermore, a Python package is made available on PyPI.

% pip install snafu

Research and Further Reading

Snafu results from service tooling research at the Service Prototyping Lab at Zurich University of Applied Sciences. Preprints and peer-reviewed papers analyse the tool's characteristics and compare it with other FaaS runtimes. While not recommended for production use, these publications may give inspiration for using Snafu in prototyping and piloting settings.


(☺) 2017, 2018 Josef Spillner [email protected] with contributions from Tobias Brunner, Bernard Jollans and others (C) 2017, 2018 Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License"); you may not use any file in this repository except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.

Open Source Agenda is not affiliated with "Serviceprototypinglab Snafu" Project. README Source: serviceprototypinglab/snafu
Open Issues
Last Commit
3 years ago

Open Source Agenda Badge

Open Source Agenda Rating