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VMblog Expert Interview with Jonas Bonér of Lightbend Talking Akka Serverless and More

 

Lightbend is the company behind the Akka Platform, used by development teams to build the most demanding, globally distributed, cloud-native application environments and data streaming pipelines.  To learn more about Akka, its architecture and serverless, VMblog reached out to Jonas Bonér, CEO & Founder at Lightbend, Inc.

VMblog:  Before we jump in, can you give VMblog viewers a quick background on the company?
 
Jonas Bonér:  Lightbend is the company behind the open source distributed computing framework, Akka, and a number of other popular open source projects.  Akka is used by developers to build high-performance, highly scalable back-end services and API's that power today's cloud native applications.  You might well have used Akka today without knowing it - and you certainly did if you bought a Starbucks, watched Disney+, used LinkedIn, or played Fortnite.

VMblog:  What makes this new architecture so different?

Bonér:  A lot of energy has gone into abstracting away the underlying infrastructure of the cloud with technologies such as Kubernetes and that has moved the industry forward significantly.  But building high-performance, highly scalable and resilient back-end services and API's takes a lot of specialized expertise - distributed computing is hard, even in a containerized world.  Akka Serverless abstracts away all of the hard stuff required to build this class of services - including databases, caches and message brokers - allowing the developer to focus where there is the biggest value: the business logic.

VMblog:  Does Akka Serverless really eliminate the need for databases? 

Bonér:  Yes!  In the same way that with serverless infrastructure there are actually servers behind the scenes, Akka Serverless uses high-performance distributed databases under the covers but developers do not need to have any knowledge of them whatsoever.  We take an API first approach where the data that the function will need at runtime is declared upfront and then Akka Serverless automatically makes this data available at runtime.  If you want, you can use SQL queries to retrieve data as well.

VMblog:  What are some of the biggest challenges organizations face in regards to serverless?

Bonér:  The move to the cloud to date has primarily been about two things: infrastructure optimization and the adoption of SaaS applications.  The next quantum leap of value generated by the cloud will come when serverless is able to address the full gamut of applications required to run a business.  But serverless today has been limited in applicability due to challenges related to performance, the management of state at scale, and the architectural complexity of building real-time systems with a serverless paradigm.  But that is changing fast.  We anticipate massive disruption to the status quo with entire swaths of today's software infrastructure becoming abstracted by high value stateful serverless offerings like Akka Serverless.

VMblog:  As the new CEO, what are your priorities for 2021 and beyond? 

Bonér:  Lightbend started as a technology-driven and developer-centric company where open source and community building matters.  It's how we started this company.  It's our DNA.  It's what we do best and where our passion is.  And so my first priority is a renewed focus on building the best technology for developers, pure and simple.  And with advances like Akka Serverless I think that we can turn the cloud into the ultimate developer tool.
 
VMblog:  You mentioned that Akka Serverless supports multiple programming languages.  Can you give me some examples?

Bonér:  We have been running a private beta since February and the biggest demand has been for JavaScript / TypeScript and Java (including Spring).  But Akka Serverless can support just about any language including Python, Go, Kotlin, Scala and C#.

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Published Thursday, June 10, 2021 7:28 AM by David Marshall
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