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Is Golang the Missing Piece for Cloud-Native Success?

When it comes to programming in the cloud, there are a myriad of programming languages to choose from – but some stand a cut above the rest. Golang (Go) is one such language. Announced by Google in 2009, Golang’s unique balance between simplicity and performance has contributed to its popularity, making it one of the premiere programming languages in modern software development. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at Golang, highlighting its distinctive features, benefits, drawbacks, and assess its role in the developer toolkit. 

Why was Golang created? 

The origin of Golang, more commonly referred to as Go, began in 2007 when Google was experiencing a period of rapid expansion. As the company grew, so did the code that was being used to manage its infrastructure, adding a layer of complexity that slowed down operations. Recognising the need for a fresh approach, cloud engineers Robert Griesemer, Rob Pike, and Ken Thompson embarked on crafting a new programming language designed around two key objectives: quick performance and simplicity. Thus, Go was born.In 2012, Go became an open-source project, and version 1.0 was officially released to the public where it rapidly garnered a surprising level of popularity among developers. Today, Go remains one of the leading modern programming languages, currently ranking at #10 in the TIOBE programming community index. 

What is Golang used for? 

Originally built with a focus on networking and infrastructure programs, Go was intended to serve as a successor to high-performance server-side languages like Java and C++. Today, Go is utilised in an array of domains, spanning cloud-based and server-side applications, automation in DevOps and site reliability, command-line tools, as well as emerging fields such as AI and data science. Surprisingly versatile, Go extends its reach to include microcontroller programming, robotics, and game development.However, it’s worth noting that where Go truly stands out is in the infrastructure domain where popular infrastructure tools such as Kubernetes, Docker, and Prometheus, are all written in Go.

What makes Golang different from other programming languages? 

Go is just one in an ever-growing sea of programming languages. Yet despite the flood of options, many would be quick to argue that it’s a cut above other prominent languages like Perl, C++, Python, etc. Here’s why… 

4 benefits that give Go its edge:  

  • Simplicity. One of the most attractive attributes of Golang is its simplicity. Where other programming languages deliver complexity and a steep learning curve, Go is comparatively simple and easy to understand – particularly for those who already have basic programming knowledge. It’s a running joke within developer circles that users new to Go can read and digest the entire spec in a single afternoon. 
  • Speed. Go’s inherent simplicity and accessibility mean that once a user grasps its fundamentals, they can very quickly and efficiently apply the language. And because it is so fast, developers will likely want to use it for nearly everything they use command line interpreters for, ultimately replacing their bash scripts, Python sketches, and Java efforts with a quicker and easier solution. 
  • Versatile Performance. Part of the beauty of Go as a modern programming language is that it has been designed to align with the predominant environment developers use – scalable, cloud-based servers optimised for performance. Go’s versatility shines as it compiles seamlessly on nearly any machine, empowering developers designed for automation at a large scale, Go makes it relatively easy to write high-performing applications, and because it is compilable on nearly any machine, it can be used to create anything from robust web applications to efficient tools for data preprocessing and beyond.  
  • Innovation. Every six months a new version of Golang is released with many improvements to the language and standard library. With each release, the ecosystem of auxiliary libraries expands significantly, catering to a broader range of functionalities. This commitment to regular updates not only ensures that Golang remains at the forefront of technological advancements but also empowers developers with a continuously evolving toolkit.

What are the disadvantages of Golang? 

Golang is a powerful language that is well-suited for building high-performance, concurrent applications. However, like any language, it has both strengths and weaknesses – here are three disadvantages to consider: 

  1. Lack of libraries: Every new update of Go brings with it the expansion of auxiliary libraries, however, even with these dedicated efforts, Go lacks the extensive library support that more established languages like Java or Python provide. This can potentially make development more difficult as developers may have to rely on third-party libraries for certain tasks.
  1. Does not support inheritance: One potential disadvantage of Go is the absence of direct support for object-oriented programming (OOP). Go’s approach to OOP is based on composition, interfaces, and structs that function similarly to classes, but favors composition over inheritance. Additionally, the lack of familiar OOP keywords such as “extends” or “implements” typically used in languages like Java may pose initial challenges for programmers accustomed to OOP conventions. 
  1. Small (but growing) community: As a young language, the Go community is still relatively small when compared to the community support garnered by other programming languages. This can make it harder to find support or collaborate on projects. It is worth noting, however, that what the community lacks (for now) in size, it makes up for in dedication and enthusiasm. 

Is Golang the right programming language for your next project? 

Overall, Golang is one of the best choices for developing cloud-native applications, and is also a strong candidate for serverless approaches, edge computing, and frugal software development, thanks to its low hardware and energy consumption. Furthermore, due to its low resource consumption and fast startup behavior, it is also ideally suited for the development of sustainable applications as well as for serverless microservices.Ultimately, Golang is an excellent choice for businesses with predictable growth and relies on fast response times from servers. So if you’re interested in a high-performing, versatile programming language that offers a vibrant, growing community, and is easy to learn, Go is well worth considering. 

5 Key Takeaways: 

  1. Golang’s Rise to Prominence: Introduced by Google in 2009, Golang has swiftly become a premier programming language, renowned for its unique blend of simplicity and performance.
  1. Versatile Applications: Initially designed for networking and infrastructure, Golang now finds applications in diverse fields, from cloud-based development to microcontroller programming.
  1. Golang’s Key Advantages: Golang’s simplicity, speed, versatile performance, and commitment to regular updates, make it stand out programming language. 
  1. Challenges with Golang: Golang faces challenges such as limited libraries compared to more established languages, the lack of support for generic functions, and a relatively small (albeit growing) community. 
  1. Project Suitability: Golang is ideal for cloud-native applications, serverless approaches, and sustainable development, particularly for businesses with predictable growth and a need for fast server response times.

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This article is part of a larger series centred around the technologies and themes found within the 2023 edition of the TechRadar by Devoteam report. To learn more about Golang and other technologies you need to know about, please download the TechRadar by Devoteam.