What Makes Wasm Different
VALENCIA, Spain — WebAssembly (Wasm) is among the more hot topics under the CNCF project umbrella. In this episode of The New Stack Makers podcast, recorded on the show floor of KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe 2022, Liam Randall, CEO and co-founder, Cosmonic, and Colin Murphy, senior software engineer, Adobe, discuss why Wasm’s future looks bright.
A quintessential feature of Wasm is that it functions on a CPU level, not unlike Java or Flash. This means, Randall said, that Wasm “can run anywhere.” “Everybody can start using Wasm, which functionally works like a tiny CPU. You can even put WebAssembly inside other applications.”
The fact that Wasm has a binary format (with .wasm file format) and can be used to run on a CPU level like C or C++ does means it is highly portable. “WebAssembly really is exciting because it gives us two fundamental things that are truly amazing: One is portability across a diverse set of CPUs and architectures, and even portability into other places, like into a web browser,” said Randall. “It also gives us a security model that’s portable, and works the same across all of those different landscape settings.”
This portability makes wasm an excellent candidate for edge applications. Its inference capabilities for machine learning (ML) at the edge are particularly promising for applications distributed across many different applications, Murphy described. Wasm is also particularly apt for collaboration for ML edge and other applications. “Collaborative experiences are what WebAssembly is really perfectly in position for,” he continued.
In many ways, the name “WebAssembly” is not intuitively reflective of its meaning. “WebAssembly is neither web nor assembly — so, it’s a somewhat awkwardly named technology, but a technology that is worth looking into,” Randall said. “There are incredible opportunities for your internal teams to transform the way they do business to save costs and be more secure by adopting this new standard.”