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KubeCon EU: WebAssembly Is More Than a JavaScript Replacement 

7 May 2021 12:52pm, by

Virtual machine language WebAssembly (Wasm) is expanding into the purview of cloud native computing and is increasingly being integrated into Kubernetes environments.

Why Wasm, as well as WebAssembly runtime wasmCloud, is considered to be more than a JavaScript replacement was the subject of the Friday’s Cloud Native Computing Foundation KubeCon + CloudNativeCon EU keynote “Cloud Native and WebAssembly: Better Together.”

Wasm now runs on and also supports cloud native applications, and runs on “servers as pluggable engines embedded within our applications as platforms in their own right on the edge,” said Ralph Squillace, principal product manager at Microsoft Azure and a c0-creator of Krustlet. “It’s inside our browsers, and yes, it’s even inside the IoT web assemblies that are already showing up in our applications,” Squillace said.

In other words, WebAssembly, since its original creation to integrate JavaScript (JS), C++ and Rust into a single runtime platform, is widening its scope to include cloud native platforms, including service mesh and edge Kubernetes support.

Also in the presentation, Liam Randall, vice president, business development, of cloud governance platform provider Stacklet and described how Wasm is now used for Envoy, Istio and Istio.io Gloo service mesh, as well as for Kubewarden. It is used in Kubernetes clusters supporting Microsoft’s Flight Simulator and the e-commerce platform Shopify. Fastly relies on Wasm for compute edge applications.

“Already cloud native and like any good technology, it’s boring, because it works,” Squillace said. “It’s the coming future that might add a little spice to the board.”

Earlier this year, in a demo talk “Extending Istio and Gloo Mesh with Web Assembly” during SoloCon 2021, Solo.io software engineer Shane O’Donnell described how Wasm is used to configure how Gloo Edge is used to manage the API gateway for the north-south traffic going in and out of the cluster. Solo.io is seeking Wasm integrations for its WebAssembly Hub.

“Wasm is a key value proposition around speed-efficient size and security, making it an attractive choice as an embedded engine where we might execute code from third parties,” Randall said. “Where once you may have turned to JavaScript, we are now starting to [use] Wasm, as security portability and decoupling of concerns transcend and are part of our cloud native landscape.”

“As the web assembly component features begin to emerge, its ability to run on multiple architectures, systems and in constrained environments, means that you can start thinking how you’re going to use it right now,” he said.

The New Stack is a wholly owned subsidiary of Insight Partners. TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in the following companies: Docker.

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