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How Akka Cluster Works: Actors Living in a Cluster

Hugh McKee Developer Advocate, Lightbend, Inc.

The Code and Behavior of Akka Actors in Akka Cluster

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What is an actor in computing? How does it work? How does it recover from failures, communicate across clusters, and represent real-life entities like shopping carts or IoT devices?

In previous How Akka Cluster Works demo projects and videos, we focused on the health of node lifecycles in a cluster, and what happens during node failures and network partitions at the application and infrastructure layers. Now we go a level deeper and look at the code behind Akka actors living in the cluster. We’ll also include a live visualization that you can download and run on your own machine, along with the code provided in the GitHub project. The Akka modules we’ll describe here include Akka Actors, Akka Cluster, and Akka Cluster Sharding. 

Project 3 in our series is based on this sample project, and is covered in two parts (both included here). In the first part, 

What you’ll learn in these videos:

  • Part 1
    • How actors work throughout a cluster
    • How actors balance their workloads across nodes in a cluster
    • Code inspection of Actors and messaging styles
  • Part 2
    • What is actor passivation and why is it important for resource consumption
    • What happens to actors when nodes fail, how they maintain state
    • How actors model real-life entities, e.g. an online shopping cart, or an IoT device like a home smart smoke detector?
    • Code inspection of recovery and sharding methods

What you need to get started:

Useful links to follow in the videos:

Part 1

Watch on YouTube

Part 2

Watch on YouTube

What's Next?

Learn more with additional "How Akka Works" tutorials:

We also invite you to visit the Akka website for in-depth documentation, and if you feel like it's time to explore opportunities with Lightbend, you can schedule a demo for your team:


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