WASM has the potential to bring major changes to containers, file systems, even operating systems themselves. View in browser »
The New Stack Update

ISSUE #281: Is Web Assembly the Future of Computing?

Talk Talk Talk

“We were hitting areas where Kubernetes was a good fit, but the container ecosystem was not quite where we needed. We had this conception that we should be able to extend the cluster outside the data center.”

Microsoft’s Matt Butcher, on Microsoft looking into use of WebAssembly for cloud native computing, TNS Livecast.
Add It Up
Rust developers settle on platforms to build applications

Year-over-year, WebAssembly has become a less popular target for Rust developers to build applications with, according to the 2021 version of JetBrains' annual Developer Ecosystem Survey. Among the 6% of developers that used Rust in the past 12 months, 21% had targeted WebAssembly as a platform, which is a decline from 29% in 2020 and 36% in 2019.

Further research is needed, but it is likely the first generation of Rust of developers are determining when and if WebAssembly is the appropriate platform to target.

What's Happening

In software engineering, empathy is required to create something that the end user can easily figure out; it’s unacceptable to build something you think is great but expect customers to figure it out on their own. In this episode of The New Stack Makers, we talk to Google’s Kim Bannerman, program manager for Empathetic Engineering, and Kelsey Hightower, principal developer advocate, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), to discuss Google’s customer empathy Pprogram and end-user satisfaction.

What User Empathy Means at Google

Is WebAssembly the Future of Computing?

Developed at Mozilla, WebAssembly (WASM) seemed, at first, to be a nifty sandbox technology for web browsers. Instead of relying on the cumbersome JavaScript, programmers could write features in their favorite programming language and have it run in the browser. The code was secure, because it was in a sandbox. And it was fast, because the code was compiled to bytecode.

But then a funny thing started happening on the web browser. WASM started to be put to work elsewhere. WASM not only is disrupting the WebDev world but also appears to have the potential to bring major changes to containers, file systems, even operating systems themselves. We are starting to see WASM namechecked in everything from microservices to the Internet of Things. This is all coming in part from a separate effort, called the Web Assembly System Interface (WASI), to make WASM usable across different hardware platforms, including ARM., for instance, sees WASM as a way to extend service mesh through WASM modules. Fastly is using it to power its Compute@Edge services, allowing end users to bring in their own libraries without compromising the integrity of Fastly’s services. And now, this week, The CNCF has accepted WASM runtime, WASMCloud, as a sandbox project

This week, The New Stack held a livestream that explored WASM’s use beyond the browser, and how it could be used in scalable cloud native environments. Even after following WASM closely for the past few months, we were surprised how powerful this technology could be. As Tyler McMullen, CTO and co-founder of Fastly said in the livecast, “A virtual machine is emulating a computer. A container is emulating, essentially, a private operating system. And a WebAssembly instance is, effectively, emulating a process.”

We will be watching this technology very closely in the months to come. 

Serverless, Multicloud Popular with K8s Users, Survey Says

Serverless technology, the cutting-edge tech whose moment always seems to be on the cusp of arriving, has finally arrived — at least for Kubernetes users, according to a new survey. Eighty-eight percent of participants in the new study of IT professionals said they are either currently using serverless computing or are planning to.

Kubernetes-Autoscaling KEDA Moves into CNCF Incubation

KEDA, the Kubernetes Event-Driven Autoscaler project, has moved on from the sandbox tier at the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) this week, joining the 21 other projects in incubation, such as Argo, Falco, gRPC and Rook. Created in 2019 by Microsoft and Red Hat, KEDA joined the CNCF in March 2020, and since then has seen the release of KEDA 2.0 and been adopted by companies such as Alibaba, CastAI, KPMG, Meltwater, Microsoft and others.

A Quantum Challenge: Building a Skilled Workforce

There’s a lot of momentum building up around quantum computing. Big, established companies like IBM, Microsoft, Google and Honeywell are putting their vast resources behind the drive to reach true quantum computing. However, the companies that are driving the industry are starting to face a new problem: a shortage of skills. 

Party On

The New Stack spoke live this week with WebAssembly (WASM) experts about the news that the CNCF has accepted the WASM runtime as a sandbox project. From top, left: Darryl Taft, TNS news editor; Tyler McMullen, CTO of Fastly; Oscar Spencer, software engineer at Suborbital Software Systems; Luke Wagner, co-creator WASM; Connor Hicks, founder of Suborbital Software Systems; Liam Randall, co-founder of Cosmonic; Matt Butcher, software engineer at Microsoft; Mary Branscombe, TNS correspondent; Joab Jackson, TNS editor.

On The Road
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