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InfoQ Homepage News Reactive Foundation Launched under the Linux Foundation

Reactive Foundation Launched under the Linux Foundation

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On September 10, the Linux Foundation announced the launch of the Reactive Foundation, a community of leaders established to accelerate technologies for building the next generation of networked applications. The foundation is made up of Alibaba, Facebook, Lightbend, Netifi and Pivotal as initial members, and includes the successful open source Reactive Streams and RSocket specifications, along with programming language implementations.

Reactive programming uses a message-driven approach to achieve the resiliency, scalability and responsiveness that is required for today’s networked cloud-native applications, independent of their underlying infrastructure. The Reactive Foundation establishes a formal open governance model and neutral ecosystem for supporting open source reactive programming projects.

"With the rise of cloud-native computing and modern application development practices, reactive programming addresses challenges with message streams and will be critical to adoption," said Michael Dolan, VP of strategic programs at the Linux Foundation. "With the Reactive Foundation, the industry now has a neutral home for supporting the open source projects enabling reactive programming."

Arsalan Farooq, CEO of Netifi, believes the Reactive Foundation will help achieve ambitious goals for RSocket. "We hope to see the modern network protocol RSocket replace HTTP as the lingua franca of microservices and distributed systems."

Reactive systems have become increasingly common since Lightbend published The Reactive Manifesto in 2014 and created the first JVM version of the open source Reactive Streams in 2015. Reactive Streams is an initiative to provide a standard for asynchronous stream processing with non-blocking back pressure. Reactive streams is a set of four interfaces (publisher, subscriber, subscription, and processor), a specification for their interactions, and a technology compatibility kit (TCK) to aid and verify implementations. Crucially, it provides the assurance that connecting publishers, processors, and subscribers—no matter who implemented them—will provide the flow control needed.

RSocket is an open source protocol that builds upon reactive streams to provide application flow control over the network to prevent outages and increase resiliency of applications. It is designed to support reactive programming and today’s modern microservices-based and cloud-native applications as a high-performance replacement of traditional HTTP.

RSocket allows the use of a single connection, through which messages are passed as streams of data. It enables long-lived streams across different transport connections, which is particularly useful for mobile to server communication where network connections drop, switch, and reconnect frequently.

During a joint presentation at QCon London 2019, Robert Roeser, CIO and co-founder at Netifi, Ondrej Lehecka, software engineer at Facebook, and Andy Shi, developer advocate at Alibaba, showed how RSocket can be used to solve real-world architectural challenges.

Roeser described how, when he was working at Netflix, they needed a protocol to make it easier to build distributed systems, and for applications to communicate in a consistent way across a network. The result was Rsocket, which provides the communication model, a network protocol, and flow control.

Regarding the Reactive Foundation and the inclusion of RSocket, Shi said, "RSocket is designed to shine in the era of microservice and IoT devices. We believe the projects built on top of RSocket protocol and reactive streams in general will disrupt the landscape of microservices architecture. The Reactive Foundation is the hub of these exciting projects."

For additional information, InfoQ has several years of news, presentations and articles about Reactive Streams and RSocket.

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