Skip to content

OpenFaaS stack

Layers and responsibilities

The recommended platform for deploying OpenFaaS is Kubernetes, whether that is a local environment, a self-hosted cluster, or with a managed service such as AWS Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS).


CI / GitOps layer

OpenFaaS runs functions, but is also capable of running HTTP microservices. Each workload is built into a container image, and published in a container registry.

During development and evaluation, this is usually done manually using the faas-cli.

For production, there are a couple of popular options:

You can use the CI tooling built into your Source Control Management (SCM) system. GitHub Actions or a GitLab pipeline provide the easiest option to build and deploy functions by running faas-cli deploy or faas-cli up from within a job. Deployments are made after a job completes, changes are pushed into the cluster.

If you need to access a cluster within a private VPC or on-premises, this can be accomplished by using a private and secure inlets tunnel.

As an alternative, a GitOps controller like ArgoCD and Flux can be used to continually update OpenFaaS or your OpenFaaS functions. A GitOps approach usually involves continuous deployment of new versions as soon as they are available. Deployments are made by pulling desired state from a special configuration repository.

Application Layer

  • The OpenFaaS gateway provides a REST API for managing functions, recording metrics and scaling them.
  • NATS is used for asynchronous function execution and queuing
  • Prometheus provides metrics and enables the auto-scaling of the Community Edition and OpenFaaS Pro

With OpenFaaS Pro, functions can be triggered via HTTP, Cron, AWS SQS or Apache Kafka.

The projects that make up OpenFaaS (Prometheus, Linux, OpenFaaS, NATS and Kubernetes) can be referred to as The PLONK Stack. The PLONK stack is capable of running event-driven functions and traditional HTTP-based microservices.

These applications can be installed via Helm charts, or by using a GitOps operator like ArgoCD or Flux.

Infrastructure Layer

  • The unit of execution for a function is a Pod, managed by containerd or Docker.
  • A container registry holds each function as an immutable artifact that can be deployed to the OpenFaaS gateway using its REST API, UI or CLI.
  • Kubernetes is the platform that allows functions to scale across multiple hosts, faasd is a simpler alternative for smaller installations.

This layer is usually built manually during exploration and development, and using a tool like Terraform for production.

Conceptual workflow


The Gateway can be accessed through its REST API, via the CLI or through the UI. All services or functions get a default route exposed, but custom domains can also be used for each endpoint.

Prometheus collects metrics which are available via the Gateway's API and which are used for auto-scaling.

By changing the URL for a function from /function/NAME to /async-function/NAME an invocation can be run in a queue using NATS Streaming. You can also pass an optional callback URL.

faas-netes is the most popular orchestration provider for OpenFaaS, but Docker Swarm, Hashicorp Nomad, AWS Fargate/ECS, and AWS Lambda have also been developed by the community. Providers are built with the faas-provider SDK.

See also: Gateway architecture, Autoscaling, Asynchronous invocations, and Going to production