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Everything You Need to Know About Reactive Systems

Sarthak Routh

Marketing Manager
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February 15, 2023 | 5 Minute Read

Reactive systems are a powerful tool for building modern, scalable, and resilient software applications that can meet the needs of today's complex and dynamic environments. They have become increasingly popular in the tech world in recent years. The rise of cloud computing and the proliferation of connected devices has led to an explosion in the amount of data that needs to be processed in real-time.

The popularity of reactive systems is likely to continue to grow as more companies look for ways to build scalable and resilient applications that can handle the demands of today's complex and dynamic environments. So, let's learn more about reactive systems and why you should use them to modernize your applications.

What are Reactive Systems?

Reactive Systems, as outlined in the Reactive Manifesto, are systems that are designed using reactive principles to be more resilient, responsive, elastic, and message-driven. This generally means that reactive systems are easier to develop and scale, are more responsive, and are significantly more fault tolerant than systems utilizing a more traditional monolithic architecture.

Because of these characteristics, they are better suited for a world where applications deployed to the cloud or on mobile devices are expected and required to have milliseconds of response time and nearly 100% uptime. In order to meet these demands, reactive systems are composed of loosely coupled modules called microservices (think of a program within a program) that utilize the aforementioned reactive principles.

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Microservices Versus Monoliths

Microservices put plainly, are a collection of programs that form a larger application or system. They are a decomposed version of a larger software project with loosely coupled modules that communicate using an API (Application Programming Interface).

As a result of their loosely coupled nature, microservices can be monitored, tested, and debugged independently without causing downtime and impeding the overall performance of a system. Compared to a more traditional monolithic system, where testing, debugging, or deploying updates could cause significant slowdown or downtime, microservices-based systems enable developers to seamlessly update various components of an application without any of these drawbacks.

In addition to these advantages, a microservice can scale efficiently and independently without hindering the performance of other microservices within a reactive system. For instance, if an e-commerce platform experiences a spike in demand for a microservice responsible for payment processing, in theory, the overall system will not experience slowdowns due to the scalable and elastic nature of systems leveraging microservices.

Reactive Microservices Explained

Now that we’ve established what microservices are and how they function, reactive Microservices are, simply put, loosely coupled modules that are developed using the reactive design principles that we outlined earlier. They are, by nature, resilient, responsive, elastic, and message-driven. By embodying these principles that are fundamental to designing and developing reactive systems, reactive microservices provide the following benefits:

  • Reactive microservices are elastic, meaning that they can scale up and down independently without causing overall slowdowns to a system

  • Each service can be monitored, tested, debugged, and upgraded independently by a single team without impacting the stability and responsiveness of a system

  • Systems using reactive microservices tend to be more redundant and fault-tolerant with zero to minimal downtime

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What Makes A Reactive System Unique?

Inherently, many of the applications that are developed today can be characterized as having some of the qualities of a reactive system because of their responsiveness, resilience, and elasticity.

However, what differentiates a reactive system from others is its ability to leverage asynchronous message-passing to define boundaries and responsibilities between individual components such as reactive microservices. This message-driven focus allows reactive systems to have loose coupling, isolation, and location transparency. Furthermore, it enables elasticity, load management, and flow control through explicit message-passing. 

Why You Should Modernize Your Applications Using A Reactive System

There are limitations of monolithic systems when compared to reactive systems like longer and more costly development and deployment cycles, and less than ideal reliability, scalability, and flexibility. So, distributed systems that leverage reactive principles are increasingly becoming the norm across an increasingly competitive business environment.

Whether it is a streaming service, a bank, a payment processing platform, or even a cruise line, reactive systems provide the speed, scalability, and reliability that end-users demands are accustomed to. As a business scales, its applications inherently become more complex as more features are either required or rolled out. With this complexity, monolithic systems provide a set of both short and long-term challenges that we have discussed. 

The Pathway To Reactive Systems

Any endeavour that involves overhauling, modernizing, or transforming your existing applications is one that requires a cost-benefit analysis of your enterprise, and moreover, a consideration for your organization's short and long-term needs. If your organization wants to remain competitive in its respective industry, prioritizing improvements to your IT infrastructure and systems is a given. With this in mind, there are 4 main steps companies can adopt to modernize their applications using a reactive architecture. These include:

  1. Identify mission-critical systems and modularize them by separating functionalities in a prototype phase that follows a well-defined roadmap

  2. Rewrite a new project that achieves previous outcomes using a reactive microservices-based system

  3. Reduce your organization's existing stack and replace bottlenecks and APIs while leveraging open-source solutions to mitigate and minimize costs

  4. Create a new reactive front-end that integrates with a legacy back end

Our Approach To Reactive Systems

Improving has industry-leading experience in assisting clients in modernising their legacy applications using reactive systems. We assess, plan, build, and deploy responsive, resilient, elastic, and message-driven reactive Systems, regardless of our clients' industry, budget, or expertise. We collaborate with our clients to modernise their applications so that they can continue to grow and scale their businesses without any friction. 

To ensure that our reactive systems are deployed with the most up-to-date technologies and APIs, we have formed strong partnerships with leading technology providers that include Lightbend, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. In addition to best-in-class technologies, we employ a variety of approaches and methodologies such as Domain Driven Design, Scrum, Agile, Extreme Programming, CI/CD, and DevOps to ensure that we produce high-quality results.

If you are ready to start a reactive systems journey, reach out to us today.

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