The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) has expanded the scope of its purview by adding open source NATS messaging software to an expanding list of technologies it now oversees.
NATS messaging software has been commonly employed in environments such as platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environments. But with the rise of microservices, a campaign to make NATS a part of the portfolio of technologies that members of CNCF consortium will advance has begun in earnest, said Derek Collison, who lead the development of NATS and is now CEO of Synadia Communications, which is dedicated to enabling organizations to more easily deploy and manage messaging systems based on NATS.
The ultimate goal, Collison said, is to not only make messaging ubiquitous, but also effectively invisible.
Collison said he and the CNCF envision a world where messaging just comes baked into every application. PaaS environments may have driven mainstream adoption of NATS messaging to integrate various elements of an application, but microservices will make messaging a fundamental requirement for building applications that can efficiently scale, he said, adding too many organizations already run into these issues because they are depending on HTTP to integrate various microservices.
NATS is already widely employed by a number of vendors and organizations including Apcera, Apporeto, Baidu, Bridgevine, Capital One, Clarifai, Cloud Foundry, Comcast, Ericsson, Faber, Fission, General Electric, Greta, HTC, Logimethods, Netlify, Pex, Pivotal, Platform9, Rapidloop, Samsung, Sendify, Sensay, StorageOS, VMware Acadiant, Weaveworks and Workiva.
The core NATS server and NAT Streaming software are maintained by Synadia. There are clients for Python, Ruby, Node.js, Elixir, Java, NGINX, C and C#, as well as third-party contributions that add support for Arduino, Rust, Lua, PHP, Perl and others.
Longer term, Collison sees NATS evolving to include functionality to support real-time applications, many of which today are using Apache Kafka software. Rather than having to deploy NATS and Kafka for different use cases, Collison said it will make more sense to have a common control plane to address multiple classes of use cases for messaging.
Messaging systems in one form or another have been at the heart of integration platforms for decades now. But the assumption was always that integration would be addressed after the applications were deployed. In the future, the assumption is that all cloud-native applications need to be integrated, which is much easier to accomplish if they all come with some form of messaging capability baked in. Integrating and managing federated instances of messaging systems still will be required. But much of the lower-level functions now being centrally processed will be pushed out into the applications being integrated.
Collison is the first to admit that messaging is not some new, emerging technology. But as microservices architectures continue, messaging will prove to be core to a new generation of cloud-native applications, he said. The CNCF is clearly betting that a consortium of vendors working on a common code base for messaging will accomplish that goal a whole lot sooner.