What business problems does WebAssembly solve? – The new battery


WebAssembly (commonly known as Wasm) is definitely a hot topic in the cloud native world. A CNCF survey posted at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon EU in May on service mesh explained how important service mesh plugins for environments like Wasm were to 25% of respondents. There were a number of discussions and long discussions about what wasm is, and more importantly, what it can do, at the recent KubeCon+CloudNativeCon EU.

One of the most interesting discussions that caught the eye was how, due to its design, WebAssembly can replace Docker in many circumstances. But as we’ll see below in this article, focusing too much on this aspect of WebAssembly misses the point, because what’s more important are the commercial uses that WebAssembly can support, as described here. -below. Indeed, like any interesting new programming language or technology in general, the real test of Wasm’s value is its professional use (already, Adobe, Microsoft and Cosmonic, which offers wasmCloud, market Wasm solutions today).

WebAssembly can be used to integrate JavaScript (JS), C++ and Rust in addition to HTML and CSS in a single execution platform in a binary format that runs directly at the machine level on the CPU. It can be used to support not only web applications, but can also extend to any edge environment and native cloud platform that runs on a processor, including mesh support services and Kubernetes at the edge. Wasm has also been around for a while, before the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) named it a web standard in 2019, becoming the fourth web standard with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Portability and Consistency

One of the main advantages offered by Wasm is its portability and consistency, which can make security and compliance much easier to manage (again, it runs in a binary format at the processor level). “Logically, WebAssembly gives you a promise you’ve probably heard before: write once, run anywhere, and you’ve heard that before with maybe Java or SilverLight, or Flash, or one of the earlier technologies. , but the difference with WebAssembly is that it’s community driven and open,” Randall said during a podcast hosted by The New Stack during KubeCon + CloudNativeCon. most modern forms of browsers on today’s desktop and mobile devices, so anyone can start using WebAssembly, which works like a tiny little processor – you can even put WebAssembly in your desktop. other apps.

However, while WebAssembly can offer nifty benchmarks and offer several stack-level efficiencies, it’s only as good as the commercial uses it can provide. Edge computing is one example where Wasm started to shine. Indeed, the ability to distribute compiled code to anything that can run a standard browser opens up a multitude of use cases at the edge, Torsten Volkan analyst for Enterprise Management Associates, told The New Stack.

“Compiled code typically runs much faster than code that must first be interpreted by host devices. This enables an increased level of functionality, for example enterprise applications or machine learning capabilities, for peripheral devices because less CPU and power resources are consumed,” Volk said. “Wasm brings the benefits of now-defunct Flash or Silverlight technologies to any browser, but without being tied to a specific vendor.”

Wasm’s community-based approach should address the security and compatibility challenges that “killed those other client technologies,” Volk said. “Furthermore, it allows JavaScript developers to call compiled C++ functions and vice versa, making the benefits of compiled languages ​​available to JavaScript developers,” Volk said.

The sales pitch

So what can you do with Wasm?

During the co-located event KubeCon + CloudNativeCon “Cloud Native Wasm Day Europe”, it was shown how a CMS compiled on Wasm supports the security tool provider Kubernetes from Fermyon website. WebAssembly also plays an important role in the company’s offering. The idea was that as a new business entering a new space, it was important to have a lot of SEO performance optimizations,” matt butcher CEO of Fermyon, said during his speech. “One of the big things for us is that if we’re going to tell people about WebAssembly, we need people to find us so they can read about WebAssembly. And so we spent a lot of time designing the CMS so source order is correct,” Butcher said. “We decided to follow all the best practice specifications…and we’ve integrated everything so that essentially when an author writes a piece of content , it doesn’t have to think about SEO beyond “I need a good catchy headline”. ‘ So that was a really interesting goal that we had at the start.

The founders of Fermyon also wanted to give the website designer the freedom “to do things the way they want”, allowing them to choose whatever theme engine, CSS framework, and JavaScript libraries they want. These have all been packed into a “very heavy set of features to use in a system that people say, ‘I don’t know, maybe it’s not production ready yet. I’m not sure you can build anything,” Butcher said during his keynote. “So we really took on the challenge of saying ‘we think we can build something really cool with WebAssembly as it is today’ today.'”

Separating compute and data on data stacks increases latency and leads to other issues, which is especially troublesome for streaming, edge connections, and other distributed applications. An online calculation based on Wasm can remove the silo between data and calculations, Sehyo Changcreator of the Fluvio project and co-founder of the data intelligence platform provider InfinityOn, said during his speech. This is done with Wasm’s open source Fluvio data feed implementation to create a distributed feed platform that delivers.

The business implications are huge, Chang explained. In order to create what Chang described during his speech as a “real-time economy”, the existing latency between data streams and between databases and systems of record can be significantly reduced by configuring Wasm. Applications and code are much easier to audit and enforce security policies thanks in large part to Wasm’s relatively simple binary computing structure. “That’s where the trillions will be made or lost,” Chang said. “And the most important part of the tractor is latency.”

In a data streaming application, Chang showed Wasm to be a “game changer” by combining isolation and portability “to allow us to reshape our compute infrastructure and datasets by flattening them into unified stacks instead.” , Chang said. “This stack can range from edge environments to the cloud, and can span continents and different locations.

Adobe takes Wasm to the periphery

Wasm is also widely used at Adobe. As Colin Murphy, senior software engineer, Adobedetailed during his talk on CDN Edge Computing and Wasm/WAS I current and future Adobe platforms and applications. “At Adobe, we have a lot of C++ code, and it’s great code for great products that people are looking for. And what WebAssembly lets you do is embed that code in the browser,” Murphy said. “And so we wouldn’t have been able to bring Photoshop and Acrobat into the browser without it…Adobe did a lot of work to improve the WebAssembly standard for higher performance and better, faster memory access, and things like that. “

The New Stack is a wholly owned subsidiary of Insight Partners, an investor in the following companies mentioned in this article: Docker.


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