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eWeek: Lightbend Helps Developers Build Fast Data, Microservices Apps

[Note: this article by Darryl Taft originally appeared on eWeek.com]

Lightbend, the creator and steward of the Scala programming language, is investing in delivering the tools and frameworks that developers need to create reactive, fast data and microservices-based applications.

The company, formerly known as Typesafe, offers its Scala-based Lightbend Reactive Platform that enables developers to build message-driven applications that scale on multicore and cloud computing architectures by using technologies like Lagom, Play Framework, Akka, Apache Spark, Scala and Java.

Lightbend recently closed a $20 million Series C funding round led by Intel Capital. Blue Cloud Ventures also joined Intel Capital as a new investor, with participation from previous investors Bain Capital Ventures, Polytech Ecosystem Ventures and Shasta Ventures.

"Our plan is to continue to invest in delivering the tools and frameworks as well as adding to our complementary suite of management products that enable large enterprises to successfully run these reactive applications in production," Mark Brewer, CEO of Lightbend, told eWEEK. "We will be investing in our go-to-market and partnership efforts as well."

Brewer said the Lightbend Reactive Platform is adopted wherever enterprises need to build scalable, distributed applications that don't fail. The company has use cases that include improving customer engagement via mobile devices, integration of Internet of things (IoT) data into real-time business decisions, content delivery to hundreds of millions of devices, auto-scaling resources to support massive spikes of Website activity and more.

"Most importantly, we also see a general trend in adoption of our technology to allow enterprises to unlock the potential of hybrid cloud architectures by having highly efficient, highly performant and highly responsive applications that can scale up and scale down based on demand," he said.

Moreover, big data has become the killer app for functional programming and functional languages like Scala, Brewer said. More specifically, what Lightbend refers to as fast data is the killer app.

Rather than acting on data at rest, modern software increasingly operates on data in near real time—fast data, said Jamie Allen, senior director of global services at Lightbend. This is especially true with IoT and mobile apps. Consequently, big data is becoming less important than fast data for many companies, he noted.

"After all, fast data is critical to fast knowledge, and businesses want knowledge as quickly as possible," Allen said.

Enterprises including Walmart, Verizon, iHeartRadio, William Hill and Samsung have adopted the Lightbend Reactive Platform to build low-latency, fast data applications based on modern microservice architectures. Lightbend's platform and professional services have become a popular option for enterprises that use the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and JVM languages and that seek the characteristics of application resiliency and scale defined by the Reactive Manifesto, Brewer said.

According to the manifesto, Reactive systems are responsive, resilient, elastic and message-driven.

"Mobile and IoT use cases are driving enterprises to modernize how they process large volumes of data," said Doug Fisher, senior vice president and general manager of the Software and Services Group at Intel, in a statement. "Lightbend provides the fundamental building blocks for developing, deploying and managing today's large-scale, distributed applications."

Meanwhile, Brewer said many of the use cases Lightbend sees require tight integration with other key components of a modern application architecture, particularly for fast data applications where the so-called "SMACK Stack"—Spark, Mesos, Akka, Cassandra, Kafka—is the default reference architecture. Consequently, as the company behind Akka, Lightbend partners with the commercial companies behind the other open-source projects in that stack—Databricks, Mesosphere, DataStax and Confluent—as well as other key players such as IBM.

"We are also seeing terrific opportunities in working with some of the global systems integrators such as Accenture who have practices dedicated to helping their clients move to modern, reactive architectures," he said.

Brewer noted that one of the most exciting areas of investment for Lightbend right now is the fact that most major enterprises are looking to modernize their legacy architectures and Lightbend's Lagom microservices framework makes this transformation much easier.

"Application requirements have changed dramatically in recent years," said Jonas Boner, founder and CTO at Lightbend, and creator of Akka.

Only a few years ago, a large application had tens of servers, seconds of response time, hours of offline maintenance and gigabytes of data, Boner said. Today, applications are deployed on everything from mobile devices to cloud-based clusters running thousands of multicore processors.

"Users expect millisecond response times and 100 percent uptime," he said. "Today's demands are simply not met by yesterday's software architectures."

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