Microservice architecture is believed to solve many problems that monolithic architecture faces. But it comes with a price - complexity. Suddenly, everything that seems straightforward in the monolithic now needs special handling in microservice, like service integration, monitoring, data migrations, and so on.

In 2019, Microsoft announced an open-source project called Distributed Application Runtime (DAPR) that the main goal was to make it easier for developers to build microservice applications. And in 2021, the Technical Oversight Committee of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) accepted DAPR as one of its incubating projects.

DAPR provides a set of APIs that leverages industry best practices in building microservice applications. Developers can now focus on the application’s business logic instead of having to deal with the complexity of service discovery, messaging, encryption, observability, and others.

DAPR can act as a proxy or abstraction for the building blocks it provides. This way, your services will be platform-agnostic, which means you can switch between any language, framework, or external service provider without worrying about breaking the integration with other services in the application.


DAPR works by using the sidecar pattern. A sidecar is a secondary piece of software that is deployed alongside the primary application, typically in a separate process. It provides supporting functionality so the primary application can focus on serving the main business functionality only.

Every service in the application is accompanied by a single DAPR sidecar. So you would deploy two containers for every service in the application. They typically share the same lifecycle that will scale in or scale out together.

Building Blocks

DAPR provides some building blocks that are typically required if you build a microservice application. Each of these building blocks is independent, which means you can use one, some, or all of them in your application.

  • Service-to-service invocation: perform direct, secure, service-to-service calls
  • State management: create long-running, stateless, and stateful services
  • Publish and subscribe: secure and scalable messaging between services
  • Resource bindings: trigger applications through events from and to external sources
  • Actors: encapsulate code and data in reusable actor objects as a common microservices design pattern
  • Observability: see and measure the message calls across components and networked services
  • Secrets: securely access secrets from your application
  • Configuration: access application configuration and be notified of updates
  • Distributed lock: acquire a lock for any resource that gives it exclusive access until it is released or timeout

Running DAPR

DAPR can be run either locally for development or in a remote environment to work in a team and for Production usage.

In the local environment, you need the DAPR CLI to access the DAPR APIs. It can work with or without dependency on Docker.

In the remote deployment, DAPR is typically hosted in a containerized environment. It can be the self-hosted Kubernetes setup on a VM, the Kubernetes as a Service like Azure Kubernetes Service or Google Kubernetes Engine, or serverless platforms like Azure Container Apps.

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