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Reflecting on 10 Years of Lightbend…and Looking to the Future

Jonas Bonér CEO & Founder

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the founding of Lightbend by myself and Martin Odersky, the original author of the Scala programming language. I had chosen Scala as the language in which to write Akka, and Martin and I shared a common goal of changing the world for the better by making it easier for developers to build whole new classes of applications by unleashing the true power of distributed computing. 

In 2011 we called our nascent company “Typesafe”, a nod to the type safety attributes associated with Scala development. The first months of the company were spent finding our feet and engaging with other members of the community who were interested in applying Scala and Akka to their businesses and were looking for guidance and assistance. We recruited our current CEO, Mark Brewer, out of VMware in 2012 and started to build a real company.

Our business for the first five years was primarily focused on enablement, consulting, support, and training for teams that were using Scala or Akka in development. I originally wrote the Reactive Manifesto back in 2013 and have been thrilled about the adoption of reactive as the cookbook for what we now think of as “cloud native” application architecture. 

We were fortunate enough to be able to engage some large enterprises like Capital One, ING, and Norwegian Cruise Lines that are still Lightbend customers to this day. Along the way we learned a lot about what it takes for a Global 2000 enterprise to build large-scale, highly resilient business-critical applications leveraging the power of distributed systems. 

It became clear that Akka was a foundational element in enabling developers to build this class of system. We also saw that Akka was being used by more Java developers than Scala developers and that the “Typesafe” name was somewhat limiting, so we rebranded to Lightbend in 2016. But this was much more than a rebranding. This was the start of a new chapter for the company delivering an integrated platform that could greatly improve the time to market and reduce the risk and operational challenges associated with building and running large-scale distributed systems. We created what was originally called the Reactive Platform and has now evolved into the Akka Platform

The Platform added capabilities like telemetry, observability, security, and data streaming, and this has provided the foundation for our company to grow dramatically over the past five years. I am so proud that we can number many of the world’s most innovative companies as our customers, including brands such as Disney+, HPE, Starbucks, Tesla, and Verizon. I am also proud to count many of the engineers and architects in those companies as co-conspirators in the push to make reactive cloud native software the de facto standard for the next generation of business-critical system design, something that we are investing in through the Reactive Foundation

Now in early 2021, as we start the second decade of Lightbend’s life, we are at an extremely exciting juncture in our evolution and embarking on the third phase of our company’s life to become even more of a cloud software company. Akka’s core distributed computing capabilities make it the perfect application architecture for designing scalable cloud native applications. Already more than 75% of deployments using the Akka Platform are in either a public or private cloud. 

We have been investing in ways to optimize Akka Platform for deployment in the cloud, add easy integration to native cloud services and make it available for consumption through the cloud marketplaces. I’m excited to see the first result of our investment available this week with the release of Akka Cloud Platform for AWS, with other marketplaces coming soon.

But this is only the beginning. There is so much more potential in the power of the cloud that has yet to be unleashed and Akka Serverless—a powerful new developer model for building scalable, resilient, high-performance back-end services—will do just that. Akka Serverless enables any developer using any programming language to be able to build the same class of system that our current Global 2000 customers run today, without having to understand the complexities of distributed systems, database design, or the underlying cloud infrastructure. 

I truly believe that this new API-driven, database-less programming model provides the potential for an order of magnitude improvement in developer productivity when it comes to building and running scalable, resilient, high performance applications. Akka Serverless is in Private Beta now. Come find out what we’re doing. It could change your world. For the better. And, after all, that’s what we’re here to do.

Want to be the hero of your IT department? Learn more about Akka Cloud Platform—and make it easy for your team to develop and deploy microservices that are fail proof, highly efficient, and ultra scalable.

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