Serverless Functions on Oracle Cloud using the open source FN project

Brian Mathews
FN logo

Fn Project

The Fn project is an open source, container native, and cloud agnostic serverless platform which is being funded by Oracle. It’s easy to use, supports every programming language, and in my opinion, performs very well.


As this is an open source project as opposed to a lot of “as a service” offerings available, we are left with the first task of, where we would like to run the project.

The good thing about this, however, is that the FN project is very versatile so you can run it almost anywhere from your laptop, to on-premise, to your favourite cloud platform.

In this blog, I will be walking you through getting started with FN hosted on Oracle Clouds OKE (Kubernetes Engine). There are 2 reasons which I chose this as a platform for testing firstly the easy access and use of the OKE service for a fully managed Kubernetes service and secondly its completely free to test with a free trial!

Getting started

For getting started with FN on Kubernetes the team at FN have made it really easy by releasing a Helm chart to give easy installation. This chart deploys a fully functioning instance of the Fn platform on a Kubernetes cluster using the Helm package manager.


  • PV provisioner support in the underlying infrastructure (for persistent data, see below )
  • Install Helm
  • Initialise Helm by installing Tiller, the server portion of Helm, to your Kubernetes cluster

Let get started:

Download helm using a package manager for ease:

brew install kubernetes-helm

Initialise Helm once installed:

helm init

Installing the Chart

Clone the fn-helm repo:

git clone && cd fn-helm

Install chart dependencies from requirements.yaml:

helm dep build fn

The default chart will install fn as a private service inside your cluster with ephemeral storage, to configure a public endpoint and persistent storage you should look at values.yaml and modify the default settings. For OKE on Oracle Cloud it is as follows:

annotations: 400Mbps ui:
annotations: 400Mbps mysql:
enabled: true
existingClaim: tc-fn-mysql redis:
enabled: true
existingClaim: tc-fn-redis rbac:
enabled: true

Once you have this edited for your relevant Kubernetes host we can go ahead and install the chart on Kubernetes.

To install the chart with the release name release:

helm install --name release fn

Note: if you do not pass the — name flag, a release name will be auto-generated. You can view releases by running helm list (or helm ls, for short).

Now that FN has been installed we can start the service.

fn start

The above command runs Fn in a single server mode with an embedded database and queue. Behind the scenes, the fn start command runs a Docker image called fnproject/fnserver in a privileged mode. It also mounts the Docker socket into the container as well as the /data folder in the current working directory (this is where database and queue information is stored). Finally, it exposes port 8080 to the host so you can invoke it on that port.

First function

The FN CLI which we have installed has a built-in init command which we use for new functions.

For FN & Serverless functions there are a few terms which are useful to know that I will refer too in the next steps.

Apps are a way to group your functions and triggers logically under the same name e.g. test-app

Triggers are pointers to functions used for invoking the function code. Think of it as an endpoint where the function can be invoked from, e.g.http://localhost:8080/test-app/helloworld which uses a HTTP trigger. NOTE: You can have multiple triggers pointing to the same function, eg events, HTTP triggers, scheduled, etc.

This is the piece of code you are writing and that gets executed.

Docker image that packages your function; the image used depends on the language of the function (e.g.fnproject/go, fnproject/ruby), for the best performance of functions we want our images to be as small as possible to make the function easier to scale.

Let’s get started

Now that we have the terminology sorted let’s get started and make our sample app.

To do this we use the init command to create a function with a Golang runtime --runtime go then the provide it with the trigger type --trigger http and then finally the subfolder for the function in this case hello

fn init --runtime go --trigger http hello

When we go to the newly created function hello subfolder, in this folder we can see the structure of the function, eg:

├── Gopkg.toml
├── func.go
├── func.yaml
└── test.json

The source code for your function is in the func.go file and has a function handler that responds with a “Hello World” message. The func.yaml file contains information such as version runtime, name, entry point for your function and a list of triggers.

You may look at the test.json file and wonder what it is, this file holds an array of tests (input values and expected output values) that can be used to test your function as a black-box service fn test. This is really useful fortesting any services in the beta stage.

Now that we have created our function using the built-in hello example we can run the function for testing using the fn run command.

Note: Before you run the function make sure you set the FN_REGISTRY environment variable to your Docker repository.

Now when you run the command, Fn will build the Docker image with the function and runs the function like this:

fn runBuilding image hello:0.0.1 ...........
{"message":"Hello World"}

This is all great, but we have the Fn server running locally, so let’s deploy our function to the server, instead of just running it.

To deploy the function, you can use the fn deploy command and specify the app name. Note that you need to run the command below from within the function folder:

fn deploy --app myapp

This command deploys the app (called myapp) and a function called hello to the local Fn server and links a trigger called hello-trigger to that function.

This means that on the Fn server, the function will be accessible under /myapp/hello-trigger path (e.g. http://**ClsuterIP**/t/myapp/hello-trigger). The app name is used to logically group functions together. To see the full list of triggers defined on the Fn server, just run this command:

# List all triggers for 'myapp'
fn list triggers myapp
hello hello-trigger http /hello-trigger http://**ClusterIP**:8080/t/myapp/hello-trigger

Finally, if you access the endpoint, you will get back the “Hello World” message like this:

curl http://**ClusterIP**:8080/t/myapp/hello-trigger
{"message":"Hello World"}

Grouping functions

To group the functions together, we can use the app name construct — this allows you to group different functions together logically (e.g. test-app could have functions such as hello and goodbye).

In this case, the test-app could also be the folder where your functions live, with their subfolders eg. /hello and /goodbye which contain the actual functions. You can also define the app.yaml file in the app root folder, to be able to deploy all functions with one command.

Follow the steps below to create a test-app with hello and goodbye functions:

# Create the test-app folder
mkdir test-app
cd test-app
# Create app.yaml that defines the app name
echo "name: test-app" > app.yaml
# Create a hello function in /hello subfolder
fn init --runtime go --trigger http hello
# Create a goodbye function in /goodbye subfolder
fn init --runtime go --trigger http goodbye

Next, we can go into the /hello and the /goodbye folder, and deploy each app separately with fn deploy --app test-app. Alternatively, since we have the app name defined in app.yaml in the root folder, we can use this command to deploy all functions to the Fn server:

fn deploy --all

The above command creates the following functions and triggers:

fn list triggers test-appFUNCTION        NAME            TYPE    SOURCE                  ENDPOINT
goodbye goodbye-trigger http /goodbye-trigger http://**ClusterIP**:8080/t/greeter-app/goodbye-trigger
hello hello-trigger http /hello-trigger http://**ClusterIP**:8080/t/greeter-app/hello-trigger

You can also create a function that lives in the root of your app by running fn init command from the apps root folder:

fn init --runtime node --trigger http

Then deploy it again:

fn deploy --all

Now we have three triggers defined under the greeter-app logical group:

fn list triggers test-appFUNCTION        NAME                    TYPE    SOURCE                  ENDPOINT
goodbye goodbye-trigger http /goodbye-trigger http://**ClusterIP**:8080/t/greeter-app/goodbye-trigger
greeter-app test-app-trigger http /greeter-app-trigger http://**ClusterIP**/t/greeter-app/greeter-app-trigger
hello hello-trigger http /hello-trigger http://**ClusterIP**/t/greeter-app/hello-trigger

Enabling the UI

If you prefer to interact with a UI, you can also do this with FN. Assuming you have the Fn server running locally, you can start the UI l:

docker run --rm -it --link fnserver:api -p 4000:4000 -e "FN_API_URL=http://api:8080" fnproject/ui

When the image has been downloaded and the container has been executed, you’ll be able to access the UI on http://localhost:4000.

Try it yourself for free!

Now that you’ve seen how FN works and how to get started and host it on the cloud, why not give it a go yourself with up to 3500 hours worth of free credits on Oracle Cloud

Brian Mathews

Written by

Technical Consultant and Evangelist with a focus on Serverless and DevOps. Why not give Oracle Cloud a try with $300 free credits!

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