Why We Love Reactive Architecture

Anurag Sinha, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Wissen Technology (Wissen.com)

Anurag Sinha, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Wissen Technology (Wissen.com)

Enterprises have been building cloud-native applications as they are scalable, easy to use, and offer the required performance. However, to build cloud-native applications, enterprises cannot use legacy tools or follow the old processes. The first thing they need to embrace is a reactive architecture. IBM defines reactive architecture as an asynchronous or event-driven approach to building responsive, resilient, and elastic applications. It is based on the tenets of the Reactive Manifesto.

We will cover these tenets in detail in a minute. But before that, enterprises must know why it’s important to build cloud-native applications using reactive architecture.

Enterprises can no longer afford to have unresponsive applications. Take the example of Bloomberg hardware and software failure in 2015. It prevented trading for two hours – causing millions of dollars in financial losses. That led to a bad experience for many users. In today’s times, an application has to be scalable and should be able to handle failure without impacting the user’s experience. That’s why applications are distributed across hundreds and thousands of machines to maintain responsiveness.

Considering that reactive architecture ensures that the application remains responsive at all times, it becomes a natural fit for building cloud-native applications.

Why We Love Reactive Architecture

Promotes elasticity

One of the reasons enterprises prefer reactive architecture for cloud-native applications is because it can easily manage the increase or decrease in workload. So, even if there is a peak load, the system will continue to remain responsive and allow the application to function normally. The system can easily auto-scale and auto-allocate resources to meet the changes in input rates. When not in use, the resources are scaled-down. This auto-predictive feature enables the enterprise to save costs. It also saves time as enterprises don’t have to re-configure the system.

Builds resiliency

Today’s industry depends on the cloud – especially after the pandemic. Given how critical some cloud-native applications are, enterprises need to invest in reactive architecture. Reactive architecture offers resiliency to the system. So, when there is a sudden outage, the failure is restricted to a single component. The other components continue to function normally and are not impacted by the failure. Considering that the failure is limited to a single component, the recovery can happen faster. The recovery can be achieved through replication, containment, isolation, and delegation to the external component. The system self-heals itself and restores itself to function better without human intervention.

Improves responsiveness

The elasticity and resiliency automatically make the reactive architecture responsive. In fact, responsiveness is the core principle of the reactive manifesto. Applications built on reactive architecture can respond to users quickly than those built on legacy architecture. In case of a problem, the system can quickly identify the problem and address it on time without impacting the end user’s experience. The reactive architecture ensures that the system functions consistently at all times. Most importantly, the self-heal feature allows the system to recover from failures completely. So, there are fewer chances of failures percolating to other components or leading to catastrophic outcomes. This kind of stability that reactive architecture offers is what helps in boosting the user’s confidence. They will be able to trust the application and use it frequently without fearing any downtime or interruption due to peak loads.

It’s message-driven

The responsiveness, resilience, and elasticity are possible due to the message-driven architecture of reactive systems. In message-driven architecture, the components talk to each other through a data item called messages. These data items are sent to specific destinations. These messages bridge the boundaries between the loosely coupled components and ensure that each component owns a part of the system and works in isolation. So, if there’s a failure within a component, it doesn’t spread to the entire system. These messages also allow asynchronous and non-blocking communication, which means the recipients of the message consume resources only when they are active. This helps in reducing the overall system overhead.


A survey conducted in 2016 had hailed reactive architecture as the future of software architecture. 80% of the respondents at that time had said that the majority of enterprises would use reactive architecture by 2018. Five years after the survey, reactive architecture still continues to have a stronghold in enterprises and even delivered positive results. Take Walmart Canada, for instance. They rebuilt their entire web and mobile application on a reactive system. It helped them increase their conversions by 20% from web traffic and witnessed a 98% increase in mobile orders. Similarly, LinkedIn used Reactive architecture to build a real-time presence indicator for half a billion of their users. All these examples show that Reactive architecture is the right choice for enterprises that want to build future-ready applications.

However, reactive architecture requires careful development as the language used for building may differ from other popular languages. Enterprises must partner with the right technology expert to build the reactive architecture.

The above article is authored by Anurag Sinha, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Wissen Technology (Wissen.com)

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