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Microsoft today announced that its open source, platform-agnostic Distributed Application Runtime (Dapr) is now production ready, with v1.0 available on GitHub 16 months after it was first pushed into community development as an alpha project.

The past decade has been marked by a slow but steady shift from monolithic on-premises software to the cloud and a microservices-based software architecture, led by companies such as Uber and Netflix. Applications built on smaller, function-based components that connect via APIs can be easier to develop and maintain, with individual developers taking responsibility for a single service (or “microservice”).

Although Dapr can be used in a self-hosted environment on a local machine, it is pitched as a “portable, event-driven runtime” that makes it easier for developers to build microservices-based applications on the cloud or edge (e.g. IoT). The project’s ultimate goal is to enable developers to create distributed applications using any language or framework, by providing what it calls “best practice building blocks.”

These building blocks can be accessed via HTTP or gRPC APIs, and include service-to-service invocation, which enables method calls on remote services; and state management, with support for both stateful and stateless services in the same application.


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Above: Dapr: Building blocks

At its core, Dapr is setting out to “lower the bar for entry” to developers looking to build modern cloud-native applications by negating the need to manage and comprehend complex technical stacks that may span countless languages, frameworks, and platforms. It also fits into a broader trend, with companies such as Nginx and Vfunction both getting VC backing to help enterprises transition from monolith to microservices.

Open embrace

Historically, Microsoft was more closely aligned with the proprietary software sphere, with former CEO Steve Ballmer taking a particularly vocal stance against the movement. But the company has grown to embrace open source under Satya Nadella, who oversaw .NET’s open-sourcing, Microsoft’s joining of the Linux Foundation and the Open Source Initiative, and more. Microsoft has also said that open source is now the “accepted model for cross-company collaboration,” noting that big companies can now get together on software projects in weeks rather than months.

It’s worth noting that because Dapr is designed to be open and vendor-neutral, its various components can easily integrate with all the major public clouds, including Amazon’s AWS, Google Cloud, Alibaba, and, of course, Azure.

With v1.0, Microsoft said it has focused on Kubernetes for running production-ready applications in the cloud, but as Dapr gets developed further, it expects the hosting environments that it fully supports to “increase and diversify.” This will include virtual machines (VMs), platform-as-a-services (PaaS), and edge environments.

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