May 22, 2023 By Graham Charters 3 min read

IBM is pleased to announce the availability of WebSphere Liberty InstantOn coming at the end of June 2023. With this new offering, you can start cloud-native Java applications up to 10x faster.

IBM WebSphere Liberty is a next-generation application runtime that accelerates the delivery of cloud-native applications. Whether you’re running microservices in a serverless environment or a traditional always-on application, Liberty requires less infrastructure, saving costs by up to 40%, and provides the flexibility your organization needs to deploy on any cloud in a trusted, secure and open environment. Liberty increases developer productivity by up 50%, empowering application teams to continuously deliver code that delights end users. 

What is InstantOn?

InstantOn, a new feature within IBM WebSphere Liberty, enables you to take full advantage of cloud infrastructure with fast and dynamic start-up—without inheriting compromises commonly found when compiling your code to native images. InstantOn will allow you to easily adopt serverless practices while enabling you to do the following:

  • Respond faster to ever-changing workload demands.
  • Improve sustainability and reduce costs by dynamically adjusting infrastructure to demand.
  • Facilitate innovation through modern application architectures and serverless.

Why serverless?

Businesses today need a significant return on investment and require constant control of costs. In an on-premises data center, this has traditionally meant estimating peak demand and deploying sufficient infrastructure to meet that demand. If your business is seasonal or has significant daily fluctuations, then you have long periods where the infrastructure is hardly used. It’s still drawing power and it still requires maintenance (and eventual replacement), but it’s not delivering value to your customers or your business. These kinds of workloads are what serverless was designed for.

Serverless is a cloud computing application development and execution model that enables developers to build and run application code without provisioning or managing servers or backend infrastructure.

Historically, application startup time has not been a primary focus for Java; instead, it has been optimized for high throughput. The reasoning goes that if your applications are running for a long time, throughput is king. This has led to the suggestion that slow startup makes Java unsuitable for serverless workloads.

Some Java runtimes have chosen to throw away the Java Virtual Machine (JVM, the technology that provides great throughput and memory management) and compile Java to native code. This delivers faster startup but at the expense of throughput. It also subsets the Java language, so your code and libraries must be designed for native compilation. Lastly, native compilation is slow, so development is still done on a JVM. Using a JVM in development and a native image in production increases the risk of problems not being detected until applications are in production.

Serverless typically costs a bit more, so it’s important your applications are efficient—meaning low memory use and high throughput. These are characteristics WebSphere Liberty has excelled at for many years. However, serverless brings a spotlight to another performance characteristic:  time to first response. With serverless, you no longer have instances idly waiting for work, so when demand increases, you need new instances to be able to respond to requests very quickly.

How does WebSphere Liberty InstantOn work?

Websphere Liberty InstantOn takes a novel approach. With InstantOn, during application build, you can take a checkpoint of your running Java application process and then restore that checkpoint in production. The restore is extremely fast (in the low 100s of milliseconds) making it ideal for serverless.

Since InstantOn is a checkpoint of your existing application, its behavior after restore is identical, including the same great throughput performance. This process enables organizations to adopt serverless for new cloud-native applications and provides the opportunity to bring serverless to existing enterprise applications.

“This is an interesting technology for companies that want serverless flexibility but don’t want to be locked into cloud functions.” — Johan Janssen, Co-Founder, FlowFactor

Key features and benefits

  • Start an application up to 10 times faster, enabling applications to rapidly scale to meet demand.
  • Works for all Java applications, new and old. Easily adopt serverless without rewriting your applications.
  • No compromise to throughput performance.

Summary

WebSphere Liberty InstantOn is the ideal feature to take advantage of serverless frameworks for your Java workloads. InstantOn is suitable for organizations of all sizes and industries looking to conveniently embrace serverless for both new and existing applications.

You can easily adopt InstantOn through your existing Liberty entitlements or explore WebSphere Hybrid Edition to drive cloud-native development and application modernization.

Try WebSphere Liberty InstantOn

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