Google Cloud Next 2021 - Modern Enterprise Applications with Go

Over the past couple of years, Go has matured to a complete end-to-end offering with seamless and secure dependency management, its own integrated development environment, and the inclusion of generics – Go’s most requested feature, previewing in Q4 2021. We’ll share how Go can fit into your application modernization plans to increase productivity, reduce risk, and save on operational costs.

Given at Google’s Cloud Next Conference, October 13, 2021.


STEVE FRANCIA: Welcome to my session, “Enterprise-Ready Modern Applications with Go– The Rise of Digital Chaos.” For years, one of the most talked-about topics has been digital transformation. It seems like everyone’s feeling the need to modernize their legacy enterprise applications. As technology has specialized, it has grown exponentially in complexity. Two decades ago there might have been a dozen choices that needed to be made, with typically two or three options. Today the amount of choices is simply staggering. Nobody can possibly begin to understand all that is required. 3/4 of CIOs say managing performance is now impossible due to the IT complexity. Security risks have seen a similar exponential expansion. It seems like every day we hear about another major breach. The historical approach to enterprise architecture doesn’t work in the digital age. If we don’t dramatically change our approach, and soon, it will be too late. Today I’m here to share with you what the path is. We need to modernize our enterprise applications, and a lot of folks have this wrong. They have part of the picture, but haven’t grasped that true modernization requires simplifying our approach, not simply containerizing it. Who am I? I’ve spent the last decade and a half leading industry-changing organizations, focused on bringing simplicity to the chaos. As senior vice president at MongoDB, I led the development of the first non-relational database to enter mainstream use in 45 years. As chief operator at Docker, I led the effort to simplify containers. As a side project I created Hugo, the most secure and highest performance web engine. Today I’m one of the leads of the Go Team, where we are building a modern, simple Cloud-native programming language. Since you might not be familiar with Go, I’ll first provide a short overview of what Go is. Then I’ll share with you what a modern enterprise application requires. Lastly, I’ll share with you how Go and Google Cloud will help you with migration to modern enterprise. Along the way I’ll share quotes from enterprises, and how Go helped them. Go is a modern programming language designed by Google for Google’s problems of building and serving server-side software at scale. Google uses Go extensively for a wide range of things, from our indexing platform that powers Google Search to the infrastructure that Google Cloud is built on. Launched a decade ago, Go has seen explosive growth. Today, Go is a top 10 language, with broad adoption among the world’s leading enterprises. Go follows Einstein’s Maxim– be as simple as possible, but no simpler. As Go is designed for maximum simplicity, it is very easy to learn and to work with. Go drives the balance between productivity and performance, sharing the friendliness of dynamic languages like Python and the productivity of compiled languages like C and Java. As a modern language, Go was designed from the very beginning with security and safety in mind. Over the past 10 years, Go has developed a large and mature ecosystem. Go is loved by both developers and employers alike, ranked as the number one language across many industry surveys. Go is widely loved by developers because it makes building modern software simple and secure. But what does it take to build modern enterprise applications? First of all, they must minimize risk. They must be fully modern. Adding modern components onto or alongside legacy systems introduces significantly higher risk and complexity. Instead of simplifying things, they multiply the complexity. You now need to worry about many systems, languages, and integration points. They must be safe. Modern applications have to be built in a way that ensures safety. According to researchers at Microsoft, 70% of the security bugs that the company fixes each year relate to memory safety. Google found a similar 70% of serious bugs in Chrome are memory management and safety bugs. Legacy programming languages were not designed with safety in mind, because at the time there was no such thing as a cyberattack and bits were at a premium. Our environment today is vastly different from the one legacy languages were designed for. Modern languages massively de-risk applications. They must be secure. One of the largest risks systems face is in the form of lacking security, which results in leaks and attack vectors. In the constant battle for security, applications need to utilize the latest encryption and protocols. They need to run in minimal environments with maximum isolation and minimal external dependencies. They need to not depend on legacy libraries and environments. Modern enterprise applications must adapt to business needs. One way they do this is by utilizing service-oriented APIs. Approaching applications with a communication-first focus ensures that the application has the proper separation, scalability, and flexibility to adapt to new business requirements. This approach also isolates each feature for greater flexibility and security. They must be architected to be modular and composable. Tech debt can be a technologist’s worst enemy. This hidden tax slows down all development. Traditional inheritance-based architectures create code that is very tightly coupled, and hard to adapt to new requirements and very hard to maintain. Which brings us to our next point– they must be easily maintainable. Teams and priorities are constantly changing. We need code that is easy to understand and pick up by a constant influx of new engineers. We want applications that require minimal maintenance without constant runtime upgrades. Our final theme is that modern enterprise apps must sustain growth. They must be scalable and efficient. Data and usage has been expanding exponentially for the past five decades. With the end of Moore’s Law and increased pressure on computing costs, modern enterprise applications need rapid deployment and the ability to scale up and down with ease, using resources efficiently and keeping operating and management costs down. They must have a Cloud-native architecture. Modern enterprise applications must take advantage of innovations in Cloud computing. With the Cloud-native architecture, they must be designed with automation, monitoring, and repair from the beginning, favoring managed services. They must incorporate event-driven components, also known as serverless. Event-driven features must be properly utilized to bring cost savings, adaptability, and efficiency to modern enterprise applications. This requires software that loads instantly with minimal resource consumption and minimal dependencies. We’re now going to go through these requirements and highlight the ways that Go and Google Cloud Platform will help you build modern enterprise applications. Go and GCP help you minimize risk. Go is a truly modern language, requiring a completely clean implementation, keeping your application decoupled from legacy libraries. While there is risk in a rewrite, it pales in comparison to the larger risk of sticking with legacy systems, or worse, maintaining both a legacy and a modern system. Go’s high learnability, productivity, and simplicity minimize the rewrite risk, and often pay dividends in massively reducing both operating costs and technical debt, further minimizing business risk. Zviad, a Senior Principal Engineer at Dropbox, said, “People become very productive in Go very fast. Our infrastructure is built in Go today, and all the new things we build in Go.” Legacy software languages were designed for a different era where safety wasn’t prioritized, or worse, often compromised for performance. This trade-off made sense in a pre-network era, but has created massive risk in today’s environment. Modern languages like Go are designed for today’s environment, where safety is critical. Go is memory safe, type safe, and utilizes low-latency garbage collection. These features alone avoid over 70% of critical bugs resulting from unsafe legacy languages. Bala, a Senior Director of Engineering at PayPal, wrote, “In our tightly managed environments where we run Go code, we have seen a CPU reduction of around 10% versus C++, with cleaner and more maintainable code.” Go has been designed to create the most secure applications, minimizing risk as much as possible. Go applications compile down to a single binary without any local dependencies. It’s not uncommon to see an application built using only the standard library, or only a couple well-vetted Go dependencies. Go’s dependency management uses an industry-leading, tamper-evident transparency log, with built in tooling that ensures that your dependencies are exactly what you expect. Go has native encryption, which is used to power much of the internet, including key components of Google and Cloudflare. Adopting Go means that the next Heartbleed, which impacted virtually every application written in any other language, won’t impact your application. Go even supports distroless containers, where there are zero local dependencies to worry about. GCP, CI/CD, and Artifact Manager have direct access to Go’s Vulnerability Database and can provide you instant warnings about security threats. Finally, Go and GCP will help you adapt to business needs. Service-oriented APIs provide enhanced agility, scalability, and reliability, allowing your business to adapt to market and strategy changes quickly. Go is the only language explicitly designed to build service-oriented APIs. Go has native support in the standard library for all you need to build performant and secure APIs, including a high-performance web server. This is Go’s most common use case, with over 70% of Go developers using Go for building APIs. Matt, a Principal Software Engineer at Monzo, shared, “Go is a perfect language for creating microservice architectures. The concurrency features, and the language in general, has allowed the easy creation of small and simple network services at Monzo.” A unique feature of Go is that its application structure directly mirrors the architecture of service-oriented systems. Services are designed independently in a share-nothing architecture communicating across networks. Go applications are composed of share-nothing modules communicating across channels, a native feature of Go. This means that both your service and your application composed of many services are using the same architectural pattern. The benefits of agility, independence, and easy maintenance are twice as impactful for Go-based services, maximizing your ability to adapt to business needs. There’s an additional cognitive benefit for developers of using a single architectural pattern at every level of your system. John Graham-Cumming, the CTO at Cloudflare, shared about Go, “I came for the easy concurrency, I stayed for the easy composition.” Kubernetes creator, Joe Beda, tweeted, “Kubernetes success is in part due to Go and the Go community. Go hits the sweet spot for distributed system software.” High maintenance costs ensure that your technology can’t properly adapt or support business needs. Go is unique among all languages as it has been designed to minimize maintenance costs. Rapidly-evolving teams are common at Google and virtually all enterprises. Go’s simplicity, easy readability, and single-binary deployment ensures that Go applications have minimal maintenance and that it’s relatively easy for someone new to a code base to safely maintain it. Martin, a software engineer at Trivago, spoke of this hidden benefit of Go. “Go’s simplicity and its sophisticated tooling let us scale not only our service, but more importantly, the process of software engineering itself. Reducing the friction of onboarding and training someone has a significant impact on the company’s productivity, even more so at a constantly moving environment like Trivago.” And Benjamin Cane, Vice President and Principal Engineer at American Express, shared, “After working on Go, most of our developers don’t want to go back to other languages.” Go and GCP will help you sustain business growth. Historically, CTOs have needed to make an impossible trade-off– either choose to delay launch as the team builds a scalable application first, or choose to ship a slow prototype early, acknowledging that development will be delayed significantly later as adoption growth demands a rewrite– effectively having to choose when to be unable to support business growth. Go has eliminated this dilemma. Go is designed for Google Scale with built-in concurrency that takes full advantage of today’s multicore machines and Cloud Services. Go enables programmers to quickly develop applications that perform at scale, no rewrite needed. Eric, a Software Engineering Manager at MercadoLibre, wrote, “With Go, the company obviated 88% of their servers and cut CPU on the remaining ones in half, producing a tremendous cost savings.” Cloud computing brings countless benefits for flexibility and efficiency, critical to sustaining business growth. Go is the only modern language that has first class support on all Cloud platforms. Go is designed for Cloud-native applications. Over 3/4 of the projects in the Cloud-Native Computing Foundation are written in Go. And Go is designed for container deployment, with a very small footprint, compared to the “ship the world” legacy languages like Java, Python, and Note. Mariano, a Software Engineer at Movio, blogged, “Our Go microservices currently build in 5 seconds or less, they test in one or two seconds which includes integration tests, and they can deploy (via Kubernetes) new containers in 10 seconds or less. The key factor here is small images.” Among all Cloud benefits, serverless has the largest potential for sustaining business growth, with its low cost, instant scalability, and expanded flexibility. Go is an ideal fit for serverless, with broad support on all serverless platforms. Go has very low resource use and nearly instant startup times compared to applications written in legacy languages that utilize interpreters. Google’s Cloud Run is the ideal platform for Go applications with seamless deployment. Go and GCP help you simplify the chaos. “The biggest impediment to a company’s future success is its past success,” according to Dan Schulman, the CEO of PayPal. Today’s business environment is defined by modern enterprises with a “move fast and break things” culture. Enterprises will need to embrace the process of constant transformation to remain relevant. Go provides the flexibility and performance to assist organizations with application modernization efforts, and GCP provides flexible managed services to guide your organization into the modern era. To learn more about Go, its primary use case, and to read case studies of enterprises who have transformed their organizations, visit Thanks for spending time with me today. I hope that you’ve learned something. I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope to see you at a future conference or one of the many Go conferences. Thank you.