Uses of Erlang

Use Cases of Erlang

Erlang. I know most of you may not have heard about this programming language. But most of the languages that are popular today have started somewhere. Erlang is not a language that is relatively new rather it has been in the industry for more than three decades. You may wonder, why one should be interested at all in learning this language or even read this article further. But trust me, learning this language is like attaining a key to a treasure chest.
Erlang is a functional programming language invented by Ericson. Its major strength is the concurrency and distributed programming. It has the ability to handle multiple threads (Process in Erlang terms) at the same time not utilising double CPU processing power. Unlike C program thread in which each thread uses separate resources from the CPU. It has had a huge influence in recent years, especially because it is used by so many firms. For example, WhatsApp Messenger is built in Erlang, as is Goldman Sachs’ trading database, Amazon’s database, and Facebook’s back end for chat service. Erlang is also used in some embedded system testing. To follow the golden rule, if a software is written in X language, testing should be done in Y language to uncover bugs without limiting the programming language problems that can be tested.
Companies that use Erlang in their production systems include:
SimpleDB is a database service provided by Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, which uses Erlang to implement it (EC2).

Erlang was utilised by Facebook to power the backend of its chat service, which has over 100 million active users.

WhatsApp: WhatsApp’s messaging servers are written in Erlang, and each server can handle up to 2 million users.

The WhatsApp server is almost entirely written in Erlang.

  • Server systems that do the backend message routing are done in Erlang.
  • Great achievement is that the number of active users is managed with a really small server footprint. It’s mostly due to Erlang, according to the team.
  • Interesting to note Facebook Chat was written in Erlang in 2009, but they went away from it because it was hard to find qualified programmers.
Ericsson: Erlang is utilised in Ericsson’s support nodes, which are used in GPRS and mobile networks all around the world.
Erlang is used in lots of places. People however don’t really advertise it. It’s usually used on the server side. I am aware of its use in the following industries (there are probably tons more):

  • Game Companies
  • Social Media Companies
  • Financial Companies
  • Telecommunications Companies
  • Cloud Services Companies
  • Gambling Companies
Erlang is a sophisticated language, but it is the specialised language with all of the top developers. In a world full of C, C++, Java, etc, you will find a language that has a compelling advantage over other languages, the best developers switch to it early, and then later the mainstream switches. Java was this way in the early days. Erlang is that way now.
Further, the companies that choose erlang are going to choose it because it provides a compelling economic advantage. This indicates that there will be more job opportunities in that field than in a popular language because there will be less competition. These fewer jobs will also tend to be higher level because people are hiring Erlang developers.
So, to conclude I can safely say that learning this language will bring a roomful of opportunities to you.

– Tanmayi Kantekar