Cloud Native Microservice Development with Java

Cloud native has been a buzz word that we hear in any cloud modernization or transformation project discussions. Moving the development, deployment, and management of applications away from on-premise machines has opened new opportunities for the business. Java, one of the most popular languages has adapted well so far with the help of containerization, optimizations of JVMs, native enhancements and powerful frameworks. In this article, I am summarizing the most popular frameworks that are capable of providing the best features for a developer, like microservice libraries and dependent technologies for cloud native micro service development, using Java.

Before going further, let me explain what cloud native means.

Cloud native approach helps establishments to develop, build and run highly scalable applications in dynamic environments like public, private and hybrid clouds. There are techniques like containerization, microservices, automated infrastructure creation and declarative APIs that emblematize this approach. This helps to make cloud native way independently scalable, loosely coupled, manageable and resilient. Adding this to robust DevOps and automation processes, helps to create next generation systems that are reliable and predictable.

Microservices is nothing but small well-defined pieces of services or a group of functionalities that can scale independently. Both cloud native and microservices approach together limitless opportunities for us to improvise the business applications.

Let’s explore three leading frameworks that lead the game in developing cloud native microservices in Java.

Spring Boot Framework is the leader as of now without any question. The well-defined nature, wide community support, good amount of effort to keep it up to date brings it fore front. Availability of technical staff who are familiar with the framework is another reason. This is important when someone starts development of microservices from scratch and the proven framework, availability of technical expertise in market and good documentation gives extra confidence.

Recently two other frameworks came to limelight and started giving a good challenge for Spring Boot in cloud native microservice area. They are Micronaut and Quarkus frameworks. This is in fact good news for Java developer eco system as it paced the research and development in the community.

Micronaut is a lightweight framework with admirable cloud-native and serverless support. Other highlights of Micronaut are high testability, faster start up, less memory footprint and multiple language support for Kotlin, Java, Groovy. Faster start up time and low memory footprint recipe of Micronaut is that it builds its dependency injection data at compile time and GraalVM support.

Quarkus is another exciting full stack Kubernetes Native Java framework made for OpenJDK HotSpot and GraalVM. This has created in fact a good traction with it’s container first approach in cloud native and serverless area forcing key players like Spring Boot to rethink and enhance themselves in the game. Key features of Quarkus include fast boot time, low memory footprint and high memory utilization density.

The new kids on the block, Micronaut and Quarkus, achieve faster start up time and low memory footprint using compile time dependency injection and aspect-oriented programming. This makes a difference while running services in cloud as it helps to buy less costlier machines to run. Opening the opportunity of creating native images using GraalVM out-of-the-box is the next feature that further improves the startup time of applications developed with these frameworks. This feature boosts development and deployment of cloud-native applications and serverless deployments.

Below is the outcome of most popular Java application framework survey report created by JRebel for 2021. There is a small drop in popularity from 82% to 62% from last year but Spring Boot is still the leader.

As a response to the recent developments in cloud native and serverless computing area, VMware informed in Spring One 2021 conference about the development of Spring Framework 6 and Spring Boot 3 with JDK 17 support to play a key role in this shift.

In summary, as of now, for critical enterprise grade applications that have integration with many third-party libraries Spring Boot holds good. Micronaut and Quarkus can be used where reactive programming model with serverless support, low memory usage and faster boot time is on focus.

Looking forward to your comments.

Author Details

Krishna kalesh Balakrishnan

Technology Architect in Infosys. Involved in the modernization and software development process of clients in e-commerce and airline domains.

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