NATS Messaging Project Joins Cloud Native Computing Foundation

The NATS project brings a mature open-source messaging technology to the CNCF, in a bid to help to improve high-throughput communications in cloud native environments.


The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) voted on March 14 to accept the NATS messaging project as its newest hosted effort.

The NATS project is an open-source distributed messaging technology that got its start seven years ago and has already been deployed by multiple organizations including Ericsson, Comcast, Samsung and General Electric (GE). 

"NATS has room to grow as cloud native adds more use cases and grows adoption, driven by Kubernetes and containers," Alexis Richardson, Chair of the Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) at the CNCF told eWEEK. "CNCF provides a way to scale community and education so that adopters can engage faster and at all levels."

Richardson added that currently, CNCF lacks a messaging tool and many systems need messaging somewhere. The CNCF's most well known project is the Kubernetes container orchestration platform. Other projects hosted at CNCF include: Prometheus, OpenTracing, Fluentd, Linkerd, gRPC, CoreDNS, containerd, rkt, CNI, Envoy, Jaeger, Notary, TUF, Rook and Vitess.


A NATS deployment includes a server that is written in the Go programming language, as well as streaming client agents that are available in multiple languages including Go, Python, Ruby, Node.js, Java, C and C#.

There are many different messaging systems used for enterprise systems today, including those that are based on the Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP), such as RabbitMQ. Derek Collison, CEO of Synadia Communications and creator of NATS, explained that AMQP is an enterprise messaging protocol that was designed in financial services to mostly replace TIBCO systems. He added that AMQP has quite a bit of enterprise features that are not found in NATS, and that is by design.

"NATS core is built to be lightweight, performant, secure, highly resilient and also by design not to store any state," Collison said.

Richardson commented that NATS is optimized for a subset of messaging associated with many cloud apps and distributed systems. He added that NATS has higher throughput than an AMQP-based approach, especially for non transactional delivery.

What's Next

While NATS is already a mature technology, as part of CNCF the effort will continue to evolve.

"We will engage with the larger ecosystem, meaning allowing NATS to run on top of popular platforms like Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry," Collison said. "We will also continue to extend our security by default stance, and introduce some new technologies and features to support very large, multi-tenant global systems."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.