March 18, 2018

Every great once in a while two macro technology trends come together in a way in which the sum of the parts most definitely will be greater than the whole. Such is the case when Node.js, the most widely used form of JavaScript, gets combined with the Kubernetes framework for managing containers.

At the recent Node Summit conference NodeSource showed off a beta release of its N|Solid implementation of the Node.js 4.0 run time running as a Docker container that can be orchestrated via Kubernetes.

Ross Kukulinski, technical product manager for NodeSource, says JavaScript developers in particular are attracted to containers because both JavaScript and containers ultimately are conduits to developing and deploying applications faster. Using Node.js and containers it’s not uncommon these days for developers to create a proof-of-concept (POC) of an application in less than a week, he notes. In fact, a recent Node.js Foundation survey found that 45 percent of developers use Node.js with container technologies.

The benefits of running N|Solid combined with Kubernetes, Kukulinksi says, include continuous scanning for security vulnerabilities, automated rollouts and rollbacks, service discovery, load balancing, analytics and the ability to scale applications horizontally more easily.

In general, Node.js is widely employed at a front end for accessing a broad range of legacy applications and services that are not going away anytime soon, Kukulinksi says. In that context, developers are now using Node.js as a common framework for accessing those services alongside a new generation of microservices. For the moment at least, NodeSource will focus its orchestration efforts on Kubernetes, but in time will investigate adding support for other orchestration engines as the market continues to evolve, Kukulinksi says.

There are, of course, a wide variety of programming languages being employed throughout the enterprise. But because JavaScript in general and Node.js in particular can be employed on both the client and the server, many developers have gravitated to Node.js for building mobile and web applications. The challenge they face is that most of these web applications are made up of multiple modules that need to be updated frequently. Containers and microservices provide an ideal architecture for isolating those modules in a way that make it simpler for developers to continuously update them.

Of course, it will ultimately be interesting to see which of these two technologies ultimately is the chicken or the egg. As developers discover containers, many of them come to realize they need a programming language that lends itself to faster development. At the same time, many Node.js developers are looking for an architectural approach to deploying applications that can keep pace with their development cycles.

Regardless of how they ultimately come to the conclusion, it’s clear that, increasingly, containers and multiple forms of JavaScript are being joined at the hip. The challenge facing traditional IT operations teams now will be finding ways to systematically deploy in orders of magnitude more applications, along their associated updates, that actually keep pace with accelerated rate at which those applications routinely are now being developed.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.