Google today announced that it is donating gRPC, its high performance remote procedure call (RPC) framework, to the Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF). The CNCF is already the open-source home of the Google-incubated Kubernetes container orchestration tool and similar projects that all aim bring software containers and microservices to the mainstream. GRPC is the sixth project in the CNCF portfolio.
At its most basic, the idea behind an RPC framework like gRPC or Apache Thrift is to allow an application to access code (and the results from running it) in another application that either runs on the same machine or on a remote server. That’s not all that different from an REST API, of course, but the conceptual difference is that an RPC request are more focused on kicking off remote code (similar to a function in a programming languages) while REST calls focus on resources.
Google open sourced gRPC back in 2015. At the time, the company noted that it was using the framework to power many of its own microservices and that’s still the case today. “gRPC is based on many years of experience in building distributed systems,” the company explained in 2015. “With the new framework, we want to bring to the developer community a modern, bandwidth and CPU efficient, low latency way to create massively distributed systems that span data centers, as well as power mobile apps, real-time communications, IoT devices and APIs.”