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Fermyon’s Spin Helps Simplify WebAssembly-based Applications For Developers


Guest: Matt Butcher (LinkedIn)
Company: Fermyon Technologies (Twitter)
Show: Let’s Talk @ KubeCon + CloudNativeCon EU

While WebAssembly was initially created as a browser-oriented technology, over the past 8 years since its inception it has been evolving with new use cases being developed. Initially it was considered a niche technology, but like many open source projects, it started to gain momentum and become more mainstream. It’s now addressing some of the challenges of serverless computing and Kubernetes

In this episode of TFiR: Let’s Talk, Swapnil Bhartiya sits down with Matt Butcher, CEO at Fermyon Technologies while at KubeCon in Amsterdam, the Netherlands to discuss the evolution and momentum of WebAssembly and share some of the most notable use cases. He talks about how Fermyon is helping simplify the development of WebAssembly-based applications with Spin, their open-source developer toolkit. He goes into depth about the features and benefits and shares some of the recent news around it. 

Key highlights from this video interview are:

  • Fermyon talks about the Cloud Native Wasm Day event that happened during the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America and the community around the technology. He discusses the progression of WebAssembly in the past year and how they have transitioned now to understand the potential it has. 
  • WebAssembly was started in 2015 and is at a stage where it is starting to make it onto the mainstream radar. Fermyon likens it to Ruby, which followed a similar path from relative obscurity to the mainstream. 
  • Butcher takes us through the journey of WebAssembly saying it was originally a browser-oriented technology. He talks about the limitations of Java and other languages for the web browser and how WebAssembly was created to address these problems.
  • Butcher discusses how a consortium of developers decided to define a binary format for WebAssembly to run in the browser whereby they could compile different languages to it. He explains how the browser was adopted yet was still niche. He talks about how it needed to have a good Security Sandbox, be portable, and be fast. 
  • Butcher talks about how he got started with WebAssembly when working on cloud technologies and in the Kubernetes ecosystem. He talks about how they started to build tooling around WebAssembly, such as Spin, an open-source developer toolkit. 
  • Companies such as Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime all use WebAssembly in their players as they have many different TV and streaming stakes and you do not want to rewrite the same software for each. However, Butcher explains the use case of IoT, which has specialized hardware, and how WebAssembly is now gaining traction in this space. 
  • Butcher takes us through the use case of database company, SingleStore, and how they are using WebAssembly inside the database to enable the data to be transformed at the source of the data rather than pulling it out, transforming it, then putting it back in. He talks about the benefits of this approach. 
  • Technology is regularly developed to solve a problem, yet use cases emerge that were not initially considered. Butcher discusses how open source empowers the community to be a part of that process. He talks about the Helm Project and its evolution and how WebAssembly is similarly evolving as new use cases emerge. 
  • Fermyon aims to show people the power of WebAssembly,  helping them build applications quickly and efficiently and execute them on the cloud. Butcher takes us through Spin talking about its features and benefits and how it is simplifying the development of WebAssembly-based applications. 

This summary was written by Emily Nicholls.