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Lightbend launches new Akka Cloud Platform on AWS

Lightbend's new Akka Cloud Platform seeks to bring a simpler approach to cloud-native development than options from hyperscalers and companies such as Pulumi and Serverless.

Lightbend has released its Akka Cloud Platform, a new platform to build cloud-native microservices now available on the AWS Marketplace.

Akka Cloud Platform includes the Akka Platform, a framework for building distributed Java and Scala applications used by the likes of Tesla, PayPal, Starbucks and Verizon. Another component is Akka Serverless, which Lightbend said combines the scalability, responsiveness and cost benefits of serverless infrastructure with data management of stateful services into one platform.

In addition, the Akka Cloud Platform features Akka Data Pipelines -- aka Cloudflow in the open source world -- Akka Streams, and integrations with popular open source and third-party technologies such as Kafka and Spark.

"Bringing its assets together as an easy-button application platform for serverless and cloud-native apps," is what stands out about the Akka Cloud Platform, said William Fellows, research director at 451 Research, in an interview.

In a recent 451 report Fellows said Akka Cloud Platform represents an interesting approach for enterprises considering replatforming to cloud native, because it addresses speed, scale and cost, and is aimed at removing complexity that other approaches may hold.

AWS is the first cloud platform the new Akka technology will run on, but it will be available for Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure later this year, the company said.

"We saw an opportunity to accelerate time-to-value for creating microservices that are resilient to failure, highly efficient, operate at any scale, and easily integrate with other services in the AWS ecosystem such as Kafka, Cassandra, data stores, et cetera," said Jonas Bonér, creator of Akka and co-founder and CTO of Lightbend, in an interview. Akka makes it simple for AWS users to deploy and scale Kubernetes-powered Akka applications on EKS and integrates telemetry and DevOps tooling, he added.

It has a rich history in data, integration, application development and management -- if it's going to 'make it' this is the right time and place.
William FellowsResearch director, 451 Research

When moving to the cloud, using microservices and containers is a given, and the ecosystem around Kubernetes makes the management of the containers and frameworks easier throughout development lifecycles, Bonér said.

"But now you have a set of concerns that are specific to the application logic for distributed systems -- how they handle massive scale, how they handle failure, how they handle these classic challenges of distributed systems with hundreds of thousands to millions of users," he said. This is what Akka Cloud Platform was built to address.

In addition, "It's where the customers are going -- though serverless does have an on-premises role as well," Fellows said.

Moreover, one of the benefits the Akka Platform has over other frameworks is that "it has a rich history in data, integration, application development and management -- if it's going to 'make it' this is the right time and place," he said. "Plus, there's no lock-in to any one vendor."

That's key because all the hyperscalers have competing offerings themselves that take advantage of their respective serverless environments, Fellows said in a recent report. Other competitors include Serverless, Pulumi, Stackery, StackPath and Nimbella, he said.

Overall, Akka's point of view as a framework is that availability, scalability, low latency and high throughput are at the forefront of design considerations for cloud-native applications. Akka was built for the very hardest problems of cloud-native apps -- use cases like stateful, streaming data and real-time, while allowing for extreme levels of scale and availability. It also alleviates the developer from having to deal with explicit locking and thread management and makes it easier to write correct concurrent and parallel systems.

Akka has already been well-tested, as some of the world's highest traffic cloud-native applications have been running on it before "cloud native" was a popular industry term. These include Fortnite with 250 million users and iHeartRadio with 128 million users, Bonér said.

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