WebAssembly is an increasingly popular and capable platform that can enable a developer to write code in any number of different programming languages, then have it run in an optimized runtime environment on-premises or in the cloud. With a serverless approach, the promise is that organizations don’t need to have servers continuously running; rather, code runs only when it’s needed. The combination of the WebAssembly coding platform with a serverless setup is what Fermyon is all about, and it has inspired investors, with the company raising $20 million in 2022.
Modern applications need more than application code; they also typically require some form of database, and that’s what the new update to the Fermyon platform is all about. The company aims to automate database provisioning and management tasks for developers. That’s why Fermyon is integrating a SQL database backend service with a NoOps approach intended to require little or no manual intervention for a developer to use it.
“Every single developer that we polled said that somewhere in the applications they build they use a relational database,” Matt Butcher, CEO of Fermyon, told VentureBeat. “So we [said]: Okay, well, that’s an absolute must-have.”
Taking a SQLite approach to databases, with PostgreSQL coming
For the relational database, Butcher said that his company decided on using one that is compatible with the open-source SQLite technology. SQLite is an embedded database commonly deployed on mobile and edge devices.
But rather than just using the open-source SQLite technology, Fermyon has partnered with software firm Turso, which manages a SQLite-compatible distributed database platform. With this integration, Fermyon can automatically provision a database for developers, allowing them to start writing SQL queries for data and applications almost immediately.
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While the SQLite database approach is capable of handling some application needs, it is not necessarily as robust as a larger database platform such as the open-source PostgreSQL database. Butcher is well aware of how much developers use PostgreSQL and he expects Fermyon, likely with Turso’s help, will offer some support for PostgreSQL, and potentially for other databases, in the future.
The intersection of WebAssembly and AI
The focus of Fermyon’s platform update today is the database, but the future is likely going to involve a healthy dose of AI.
Butcher noted that developers can already use OpenAI’s APIs alongside Fermyon to do some basic tasks, and he hinted that more capabilities will be disclosed in several months. In fact Butcher sees a lot of promise for using WebAssembly with AI.
With the serverless approach, functions start and stop at frequent intervals and organizations are not consuming CPU capacity all the time. The promise of WebAssembly is that it is platform- and hardware-neutral, meaning that organizations don’t have to think at all about whether they’re deploying to a Windows system or to an Intel or Arm CPU. In Butcher’s view, the utility and flexibility of serverless WebAssembly makes it particularly attractive for AI applications.
“WebAssembly is really the perfect model for meshing with AI, especially in a serverless world,” Butcher said.
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