Difficulty: beginner
Estimated Time: 8 minutes

Introduction to Serverless on OpenShift

In this Serverless Introduction scenario, you will learn some of the concepts of Serverless and the various terms and commands used in the Apache OpenWhisk FaaS platform that forms the basis of the new OpenShift Cloud Functions Serverless Platform. You will also see how to deploy Apache OpenWhisk to OpenShift Container Platform.

Additional Resources


In this introductory scenario, you have learned the basic concepts of a Serverless platform as well as the main concepts and commands of the Apache OpenWhisk Serverless platform. You then prepared to deploy OpenWhisk on OpenShift and proceeded with the deployment.

Please take sometime to play with other related scenarios that are available to get yourself familiarized with various serverless concepts on Apache OpenWhisk. Good Luck!

Additional Resources

Don’t stop now! The next scenario will only take about 10 minutes to complete.

A Serverless Introduction on Apache OpenWhisk

Step 1 of 3

Step 1

Introduction to Serverless Concepts and Apache OpenWhisk Commands

During this step of the course, we will be discussing some basic concepts of Serverless and a few of the Apache OpenWhisk commands.

Serverless Concepts

The term Serverless is often used interchangeably with the term FaaS (Function-as-a-Service). Serverless platforms provide APIs that allow users to run code functions (also called actions) and return the results of each function. Serverless platforms provide HTTPS endpoints to allow the developer to retrieve function results. These endpoints can be used as inputs for other functions, thereby providing a sequence (or chaining) of related functions.

On most Serverless platforms, the user deploys (or creates) the functions first before executing them. The Serverless platform then has all the necessary code to execute the functions when it is told to. The execution of a Serverless function can be invoked manually by the user via a command or it may be triggered by an event source that is configured to activate the function in response to events such as cron job alarms, file upload, or any of the many events that can be chosen.

Apache OpenWhisk Concepts and Commands

Apache OpenWhisk offers the developer a straight forward programming model based on 4 concepts: actions, packages, triggers, and rules.

Actions are stateless code snippets that run on the Apache OpenWhisk platform. For example, an action can be used to detect the faces in an image, respond to a database change, aggregate a set of API calls, or post a Tweet. An action can be written as a JavaScript, Swift, Python or PHP function, a Java method, any binary-compatible executable including Go programs and custom executables packaged as Docker containers.

Actions can be explicitly invoked, or run in response to an event. In either case, each run of an action results in an activation record that is identified by a unique activation ID. The input to an action and the result of an action are a dictionary of key-value pairs, where the key is a string and the value a valid JSON value. Actions can also be composed of calls to other actions or a defined sequence of actions.

Packages provide event feeds and anyone can create a new package for others to use. Triggers associated with those feeds fire when an event occurs, and developers can map actions (or functions) to triggers using rules.

Some of the more commonly used commands in Apache OpenWhisk are:

wsk -i action create is used to create an action (or function) so it is deployed to the Serverless platform.

wsk -i action update is used to update a deployed action.

wsk -i action delete is used to delete a deployed action.

wsk -i action list is used to list all the actions that are currently deployed and ready to execute.

wsk -i action invoke is used to execute an action.

wsk -i activation list is used to dump out the activation log which shows all the activations of actions.