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Highlights and Insights from Wasm Day EU, 2024

· 9 min read

Cloud Native Wasm Day EU, Paris

Cloud Native Wasm Day (co-located with KubeCon + CloudNativeCon EU, 2024) is always a great event but this year was a little different. In 2024, discussions are turning from theory towards working with Wasm in practice, with companies in a variety of sectors sharing their experiences.

What's particularly exciting for us, as CNCF wasmCloud maintainers, is how quickly wasmCloud is being adopted. So many of this year's talks come from companies already working with wasmCloud; many in production. We've summarized all the talks from this year's event and recommend paying particular attention to presentations from wasmCloud community users Orange and Machine Metrics.

Welcome + Opening Remarks—Divya Mohan, SUSE

Welcome and huge thanks to the program committee: Rishit Dagli, Ashwin Kumar Uppala, Sean Isom and Wasm Day founding co-chair (and Cosmonic CEO) Liam Randall. All session recordings can be found here

Components, WebAssembly's Docker's Moment—Bailey Hayes, Cosmonic

In this inspirational talk, Bailey discusses the momentous changes that combined in cloud native computing—the advent of containers alongside the digitization of industry—to create Docker's seminal moment. She explains that, with the emergence of WebAssembly, a similar paradigm shift is now taking place. In Bailey's view WebAssembly Components are the catalyst for this shift.

Why? Bailey believes the way we build software is broken. At the heart of the discussion is the recognition that the way we build software now creates inherent barriers to success—tiny, disparate teams and a core that is filled with spikes and barriers. This is, perhaps, exemplified best in the way we build language silos. Developers coding in different languages cannot easily share libraries and code. Components change everything because they are completely language interoperable. We can take 2 components written in 2 totally different languages and have them talk to each other with strictly-defined, high-level types. We do this with the WIT IDL.

As Bailey describes, the component model allows us to write application components that do one thing really well. And it doesn't matter what language it's written in, we just pick the standard component that is the best for the job in hand. These standard components can be picked up and reused everywhere. This game-changing technology, she believes, will change the way we build applications forever.

Choosing Customizability and Distributing Dependencies with Wasm Components—Taylor Thomas, Cosmonic

Hot on the heels of Bailey's talk, Taylor now takes us deeper into Component Model, to reveal what it's like to work with components in practice. What's great to see in this demo are many of the new features coming to wasmCloud 1.0 via WASI 0.2 and the WebAssembly Component Model. wasmCloud is fast becoming the natural place for developers to get started with components and this talk beautifully illustrates why.

After a foundational recap of the model, Taylor runs through a series of demos with increasing complexity, showing how to build and deploy components. From a simple "Hello world", to adding persistent database storage, to mocking a database using wasi-virt, finally to fully distributing the interface dependencies across components running over a network boundary.

For the latest and greatest in Wasm standards and innovation, and a practical guide to getting started, this session is not to be missed.

Pathfinder to GPU Offload in WASM—Atanas Atanasov & Aaron Dorney, Intel

It's an exciting time for companies at the cutting edge of embedded systems and devices. Atanas and Aaron's talk gives a sense of the opportunity companies like Intel are identifying in bringing Wasm to embedded systems. Speficially, this demo-laden talk questions why we would want GPU offload in the Wasm ecosystem and takes a closer look at the tools available right now to achieve this.

According to Adanas and Aaron, there are two major use cases for GPU offload in Wasm. The first is when working with AI/ML as a service, the second rendering as a service. This makes sense when considering the associated deployment targets; standalone desktop apps, cloud apps in resource-constrained environments, applications running in browsers and node js. All these environments rely on low-latency and high performance. This is something that containers struggle with—as the team describes, the overhead of spinning up a container is not conducive to these use cases.

The team then takes us on a whistlestop tour of wasi nn and web GPU offload methodologies. They then dive into WASI-WebGPU, explaining its relationship to WebGPU, and why the support for common ML tools makes WASI the most sensible way to manage GPU offload in Wasm. It's exciting to see the transformative potential of WASI in diverse hardware environments. This is a fascinating session.

🌍⚡ Edge Evolution: Orange's Edge Strategy with WebAssembly & CNCF WasmCloud—Yann Cardon, Orange

We've been collaborating with the folks at Orange some time now and the early use cases are fascinating. A major international telecoms company, based in Europe, Orange is facing the challenge of managing data centers and extending robust services to their 184 Points of Presence across 31 countries.

In his talk, Senior Architect Yann Cardon, discussed the role CNCF wasmCloud is playing in enhancing the ability to scale applications to the edge and beyond. In his own words, "With wasmCloud, you have a single control plane for the whole of your lattice—-so you can define precisely where you throw your payloads. wasmCloud has a pure functional approach in the sense that you have 2 different abstraction actors and you deal with the outside world with capabilities that can perform as databases, HTTP endpoints and more.” Why does this matter? The short answer is 5G. 5G binds back 'over IP' services and connectivity into composite services which makes the Component Model highly relevant. It's incredible to see such a clear use case for the component model in telecoms; we're looking forward to seeing the other telcos follow Yann's lead.

Note: wasmCloud is also being trialed in a TM Forum Catalyst Project—WebAssembly Canvas—with a group of operators and their integrators. The project is now moving into the next phase after a successful initial PoC. Early case study can be found here.

WebAssembly on the Factory Floor: Efficient and Secure Processing of High Velocity Machine Data—Jochen Rau & Tyler Schoppe—MachineMetrics, LLC

WebAssembly has particular potential in far-edge locations; in devices and on sensors. It's the world of IoT that Tyler and Jochen from Machine Metrics introduce us to in their Wasm Day talk and, when it comes to maintaining high-precision manufacturing machinery, the focus is as much about security as it is performance. Machine Metrics is transforming the way data is processed in industrial settings through the instrumentation of edge devices with NATS/JetStream and wasmCloud.

The team works with a wide range of manufacturers, all with highly specialized services and bespoke equipment. WebAssembly allows the team to more closely monitor the performance, and state of individual pieces of equipment which results in better longevity, and maintenance savings. More importantly, though, it's wasmCloud's security posture that Tyler and Jochen appreciate.

As Tyler explains: "wasmCloud's sandbox environment is really helpful for us as a great security model across a bunch of our different types of customers. These can be customers with full IT teams focused on security, where getting them to whitelist a URL takes a month of conversation and multiple people's time, all the way down to accommodating customers who have absolutely no security. This sandbox model is really great, and crucial because our customer data is often very sensitive.”

CRI-O's WASM Adventure: Challenges, Strategies, and What Lies Ahead—Sohan Kunkerkar & Peter Hunt, Red Hat

CRI-O is a lightweight container runtime for Kubernetes, and WebAssembly has become essential for CRI-O in driving container efficiency and optimization. In their talk, Sohan and Peter take us through their journey with Wasm; the challenges faced during its integration, and how the team has overcome these challenges.

As we've heard before, WebAssembly and Kubernetes can co-exist harmoniously in a host of environments. Sohan and Peter cover some of the major benefits of bringing Wasm to Kubernetes; edge agility; dynamic scaling; security-enhanced microservices; polyglot architecture. Above all, resource optimization is the killer use case for Wasm in Kubernetes. It's this vision of making containers more agile and scalable that should pique the interest of Kubernetes enthusiasts in all sectors.

Sohan and Peter then give us a glimpse into the future; showing it's possible to handle WASM workloads as container images and loading WASM plugins directly into CRI-O instead of NRI. This, they believe, will revolutionize the capabilities of CRI-O and Kubernetes. For Kubernetes operators this is great inspiration as to how Wasm can improve even the largest of Kubernetes estates.

WASI and the Cloud: A Game-Changing Duo—Bailey Hayes, Cosmonic & Jiaxiao Zhou, Microsoft

What happens when we need to switch your cloud and your CTO says you need to do it in a day? This is the question posed by Bailey and Zhou in this the final Wasm Day talk for 2024. In this demo-heavy talk, we're introduced to WASI 0.2 and Component Model as a way to pivot more easily to new, even completely different, platforms and solutions.

Many organizations are tightly coupled to historical technology decisions—their chosen cloud, their traditional framework. The reality is modern business, and the speed in which it evolves, requires flexibility in the way software is run. If my cloud costs spiral, I want to be able to shift my company to another cloud immediately. If I want to bring workloads back to bare metal to reduce latency, I want that to be an easy process.

Zhou and Bailey describe a world in which cloud applications, when componentized, become lightweight, portable and agnostic which quickens their journey to other locations. Watch out for their demo in which they show a polyglot component, built in multiple languages, running on multiple platforms, including CNCF wasmCloud.

This session really brings to life the challenges facing engineers in every sector, looking for a cleaner disconnect from legacy technology decisions.

Closing Remarks—Liam Randall, Program Committee Member

A huge thank you to everyone who attended Cloud Native Wasm Day and every speaker for the work on their sessions. Every session has been super high quality and we had a record number of submissions.

Conclusion

As WebAssembly adoption grows, it's exciting to see the breadth and depth of the emerging use cases. Wasm is already having a meaningful impact at scale and in production in telecoms, manufacturing, automotive and digital services, to name a few. With WasmCon just around the corner it's going to be interesting to see where Wasm goes next.

Join the discussion! wasmCloud.slack.com