November 03, 2022

VMblog 2022 Mega Series Q&A: Jonas Bonér of Lightbend Discusses Its Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) Developer Platform

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Welcome to the VMblog 2022 Mega Series where we cover a number of important topics.  In this series, you'll be hearing from the industry leaders and experts in order to help you make important decisions within your own organization.  Follow along for a chance to better understand a number of topics and find out more about some of the best technologies available out there in the industry.  

In today's Q&A, we're speaking with industry expert, Jonas Bonér, CEO and Founder of Lightbend.

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VMblog:  Lightbend is the company behind Kalix - can you explain to our readers what Kalix is and does?

Jonas Bonér: Kalix is a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) that combines an API-first, database-less programming model with a serverless runtime. By bringing all of that into one single package, developers no longer have to set up and tune databases, maintain and provision servers, configure or run compute clusters. All of that is handled by Kalix. On top of that, Kalix brings you advanced data access patterns like Event Sourcing, CQRS, and CRDTs without developers having to learn how to implement them. All they need to do is build their stateful serverless service using one of the available languages and they're up and running in minutes.

VMblog:  What problem does Kalix solve?

Bonér:  A lot of energy has gone into abstracting away the underlying infrastructure of the cloud with technologies such as Kubernetes and that has moved the industry forward significantly.  But building high-performance, highly scalable and resilient back-end services and API's takes a lot of specialized expertise - distributed computing is hard, even in a containerized world.  Kalix abstracts away all of the hard stuff required to build this class of services - including databases, caches and message brokers - allowing the developer to focus where there is the biggest value: the business logic.

VMblog: There are so many developer platforms in the market. Why should an organization use Kalix? What's the best use case?

Bonér: Kalix is the only developer platform to enable any back-end developer to build large-scale, high-performance microservices and APIs with no operations required. Designing, building and running high performance, low latency data-centric applications capable of handling large data volumes is challenging from both the degree of technical difficulty and skills availability. Historically, building systems like this required a sophisticated, complicated architecture of various and expensive technologies, such as enterprise application infrastructure software, distributed databases, and caches. Kalix was built specifically to create the super complex distributed applications.

VMBlog: Kalix is database-less. What does that mean?

Bonér: In "traditional," and stateless, serverless platforms you separate the data from the service and you have to explicitly connect them to read existing records, create new records, or update values. Kalix flips that model upside down. The in-memory state, backed by durable storage, reduces latency for data-centric operations and brings the data to your service when it needs it. That makes Kalix uniquely suited for data-centric use cases like digital twins for IoT, real-time financial services, telemedicine, streaming media or gaming.

VMBlog: What makes Kalix unique?

Bonér: Kalix has three primary differentiating factors. They are:

  • It has a simple, API-driven programming model that makes it easy for developers to define the data that they need and manages that data behind the scenes so that it is available automatically at runtime.
  • Unlike traditional Function-as-a-Service platforms, Kalix offers tightly integrated building blocks that developers don't have to assemble themselves in order to build stateful services and APIs.
  • Unlike existing stateful serverless platforms, Kalix offers a wide range of data modeling and persistence options (like Event Sourcing and CRDTs) so developers can choose what fits their use case best.

VMBlog: How does Kalix provide long term sustainability of initiatives given economic instability and skills gap issues?

Bonér: Kalix removes the hurdles of distributed data, distributed systems and all underlying architecture complexity which allows existing development teams to easily move to the cloud and innovate incredibly fast. With respect to the potential skills gap, Kalix allows any back-end or full stack developer to build high-performance, data-centric, cloud-native services. No specialized skills are required- or the salaries those skills can demand. Finally, Kalix is cost-efficient to the extreme so you don't have to worry about (or pay additionally) for underlying infrastructure, databases, message brokers, caches, service meshes, and API gateways. Instead, Kalix allows users to focus squarely on their business logic regardless and continue to innovate regardless of business or naturally occuring challenges of today or those that might arise in the future.

David Marshall

David Marshall has been involved in the technology industry for over 19 years, and he's been working with virtualization software since 1999. He was able to become an industry expert in virtualization by becoming a pioneer in that field - one of the few people in the industry allowed to work with Alpha stage server virtualization software from industry leaders: VMware (ESX Server), Connectix and Microsoft (Virtual Server).

Through the years, he has invented, marketed and helped launch a number of successful virtualization software companies and products. David holds a BS degree in Finance, an Information Technology Certification, and a number of vendor certifications from Microsoft, CompTia and others. He's also co-authored two published books: "VMware ESX Essentials in the Virtual Data Center" and "Advanced Server Virtualization: VMware and Microsoft Platforms in the Virtual Data Center" and acted as technical editor for two popular Virtualization "For Dummies" books. With his remaining spare time, David founded and operates one of the oldest independent virtualization news blogs, VMblog.com. And co-founded CloudCow.com, a publication dedicated to Cloud Computing. Starting in 2009 and continuing all the way to 2016, David has been honored with the vExpert distinction by VMware for his virtualization evangelism.

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