Introducing Lightbend Platform

Lightbend Platform enables development and management of mission critical, data-centric systems that are responsive and scalable under heavy load. Applications built with Lightbend technology maintain resilience in the face of uncertainties and complexities inherent in the modern technical ecosystem.

As shown in the illustration below, Lightbend Platform includes tools for:

  • Developing Reactive microservices

  • Designing streaming data applications with components such as Apache Spark™, Akka Streams, Apache Kafka™, orchestrated by Lightbend Pipelines

  • Deploying Reactive microservice and streaming systems to Kubernetes platforms

  • Instrumenting and observing application behavior from development through production

Lightbend Platform Overview

We at Lightbend are committed to helping you build and maintain the infrastructure that drives your business. Lightbend Platform subscriptions include warranties and certifications and world-class support. Optional training and professional services are available to prepare your teams for success.

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The Reactive advantage

Reactive microservices are all about building stateful systems that remain responsive under almost all conditions and make optimal use of computing resources. Lightbend’s Play, Akka, and Lagom enable you to build and operate Reactive microservices in the most robust manner possible.

Platforms such as Kubernetes support scaling and recovery from failures at the infrastructure level, but applications must manage their own state. Reactive microservices scale state up and down effortlessly across a cluster. This means they can handle many concurrent requests with large volumes of data, while remaining resilient in the face of failures.

For example, in the retail world, sales revenue depends on the system remaining highly responsive—even under the heavy load of Black Friday, a flash sale, or during unexpected failures. Lightbend Platform users have successfully met this challenge. Their reactive systems ensure that fresh data is available at all times so that customers can continue to add products to their carts and finalize their purchases in spite of spikes in load and intermittent connectivity issues.

For added resilience, Lightbend Platform gives you options for dealing with situations where part of the network becomes unreachable, splitting a cluster of stateful entities. These options are complemented by enhanced failure recovery with the Kubernetes Lease mechanism. While it is still important to choose the best way to provide persistence and to plan ahead for failures, with Lightbend Platform, you can focus on your business goals rather than on building the core infrastructure for distributed data management. See Akka Resilience for more information.

Extracting business value from all available data

The modern technological ecosystem gives businesses access to more data than ever before. The challenge becomes handling it and making sense of it in time to act strategically. Sticking with a traditional strategy of storing data and processing it in batches, often hours later or overnight, can result in lost opportunities.

Some example applications that motivate use of a streaming architecture include:

  • Handling and analyzing IoT data in real-time or near real-time: Thousands, or even millions, of data points have no value unless you can process them quickly and act accordingly. For example, avoiding expensive downtime by monitoring device performance and scheduling maintenance or replacement when behavior degrades.

  • Analyzing customer behavior: Anomalies in credit card purchases that could indicate fraud require immediate action to prevent costly issues for both the card issuer and the customer. Similarly, quickly detecting changes in customer behavior gives businesses the ability to offer new products and services when they are most likely to be accepted.

  • Enhancing the user experience with machine learning: Customers exhibit patterns when buying books and movies, support packages, or seeking expert advice. Recommendation engines tap into those patterns to boost the customer experience and increase revenue and loyalty.

As discussed in our ebook, Fast Data Architectures For Streaming Applications, streaming data applications have the same scalability and resiliency requirements as reactive microservices. Extracting business value from large volumes of data in real-time requires integration of existing data sources with streaming technologies and the rest of your ecosystem that wants to exploit analytics. Without in-house expertise, it is difficult and costly to create such systems.

A variety of components for managing data in-flight have emerged to meet these challenges. They enable streaming applications that support timely analysis, including machine learning and artificial intelligence. However, they can be hard to orchestrate, so Lightbend Platform offers Lightbend Pipelines to address these challenges.

Lightbend Pipelines ties all of your streaming components together, allowing you to easily define, deploy, and operate multi-stage, multi-component flows of streaming data. Lightbend Pipelines eliminates the need for developers to write boilerplate code and provides operational tooling to improve developer productivity and automate essential operations.

Lightbend Pipelines—​backed by Lightbend experience—​simplifies design and deployment of streaming applications that use:

  • Apache Kafka: Serves as the messaging backbone for data streaming between services. It provides persistence and resiliency for data as it flows through your system

  • Apache Spark The industry standard for continuous processing of large data sets with a streaming engine.

  • Akka Streams: Enables reactive stream processing. When leveraged with Alpakka connectors, Akka Streams provides robust integration with external data sources for fast and efficient data ingestion. Data streamed into Apache Kafka can be further transformed using Apache Kafka Streams. Once data has been streamed into Lightbend Platform, it can use Kafka for further processing or send data to Akka Streams and Apache Spark for aggregations and other types of complex processing.

  • Integrations with machine learning systems: It’s one thing to train machine learning models. It’s quite another thing to deploy and management them successfully in streaming applications. Lightbend Pipelines provides tools and expertise for serving machine-learning models that leverage TensorFlow, Kubeflow, and other tools.

  • Lightbend Console: Provides a window into the streaming components and their runtime activities, making it simpler to manage and debug complex applications and streaming pipelines.

    Lightbend Pipelines visualization

Lightbend Platform solutions to common challenges

Experience helping our customers create applications with extreme requirements has shown us where the most common challenges occur when creating Reactive microservice and streaming systems. The following outline some of those challenges and the solutions Lightbend Platform includes for addressing them:

  • Integration between new and legacy systems can consume costly development resources that could be more productively engaged adding business value.

    Lightbend Platform includes a variety of tools that simplify integration using HTTP, gRPC, real-time streaming with Akka Streams, Alpakka connectors, and message broker integrations with Kafka.

  • Distributed systems require special data handling to ensure consistency, especially when they span multiple regions or data centers.

    Lightbend Platform microservice tools manage distributed data out of the box and Akka’s Multi-Data Center Persistence simplifies reconciliation of highly distributed data sets. See Akka Persistence Enhancements for more information.

  • The “lift and shift” approach for moving to the cloud has proven to be ineffective for scaling applications.

    Lightbend Platform applications take full advantage of cloud-native infrastructure such as Kubernetes-based platforms, allowing them to be deployed either on-premises or in the cloud without modification. Lightbend Platform’s Akka Resilience Enhancements provide the most operationally robust platform for reactive microservices in cloud, hybrid, and on-premises deployments.

  • Observing, managing, and troubleshooting distributed and streaming applications requires new techniques.

    Lightbend Platform’s comprehensive suite of observability features include Lightbend Telemetry, which provides deep instrumentation for applications built with Play, Akka and Lagom. Telemetry integrates with open source solutions such as Prometheus and Elasticsearch, as well as with monitoring vendors such as New Relic and DataDog. Lightbend Console is a dashboard that works with Prometheus to provide monitoring and intelligence insights for Lightbend Platform applications.

    Lightbend Console

  • Kubernetes, the cloud native container-orchestration platform of choice for distributed applications, requires knowledgeable configuration.

    The Lightbend Platform is able to leverage Kubernetes for the reliable deployment of your microservice and streaming applications. It helps you containerize, configure, test and deploy your applications with Kubernetes-based platforms, such as Red Hat® OpenShift and IBM® Cloud Pak™. Lightbend Platform’s Operators simplify the provisioning and operations of critical services including Apache Kafka and Spark within your clusters. Combined with Lightbend’s Telemetry and Console, Lightbend Platform provides a complete Kubernetes operations solution.

  • In event-driven systems, the incoming volume of events can overwhelm other parts of the system, especially legacy components.

    The Reactive Streams protocol allows microservices to be constructed in such a way that the flow of events is safely managed between components with markedly different processing speeds. Using Kafka as a persistent message broker provides an even greater level of decoupling and resilience between microservices. Akka Streams provides an implementation of Reactive Streams.

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Published: 2019-11-15