‘Cold starts’ for serverless Javascript a problem no more says Fastly as it launches new edge service

‘Cold starts’ for serverless Javascript a problem no more says Fastly as it launches new edge service

Fastly, Inc. has announced the availability of JavaScript in [email protected], allowing developers to build with even more flexibility in Fastly’s serverless compute environment. With more JavaScript developers in the world than there are for any other development language, the availability of a faster, more secure way of building with JavaScript brings [email protected]’s safety benefits and speedy execution to more workloads around the globe.

“When we launched [email protected] with a language-agnostic vision, JavaScript wasn’t one of the languages we evaluated for support, because at the time, it couldn’t compile to WebAssembly, meaning we wouldn’t have been satisfied with the security of JavaScript within our serverless compute environment,” explains Tyler McMullen, CTO at Fastly. “However, since we released [email protected], JavaScript has been the most requested language to add, so it was top of our priority list once WebAssembly supported it. Today, we’re thrilled to open up a serverless, zero-cold start JavaScript offering with a reduced attack surface, compared to similar offerings on the market. With serverless computing on the rise, we hope this motivates continued adoption of a powerful technology for businesses as they build modern digital experiences.”

Previously, JavaScript developers have had to navigate ~250+ milliseconds of startup latency in serverless environments. Known as cold starts, this latency delays request processing, slowing down time-sensitive applications and websites. To compensate for these delays, developers have tried adding more functions into a single serverless deployment, leading to increased security risks due to a larger blast radius for attacks. Combined with some alternative platforms’ lack of proper sandboxing between instances, serverless JavaScript has fallen prey to attackers, and developers have either avoided serverless technology or had to accept the shortcomings in safety and speed.

Fastly claims to solve both of these challenges through key architectural decisions made when [email protected] was initially built. Instead of relying on existing technologies for serverless compute – like reusable containers – Fastly built [email protected] using WebAssembly. This high-performance technology allows [email protected] to scale with startup times that are 100x faster than other serverless offerings on the market, so customers can now execute JavaScript code without having to worry about cold start times. With security in mind, Fastly developed a unique, highly-secure isolation technology that creates and destroys a sandbox for each individual request from JavaScript compiled through WebAssembly.

“JavaScript is the most popular programming language today by a distance, continuing to grow and find new niches,” said James Governor, analyst and co-founder at RedMonk. “Serverless platforms are a natural home for new JavaScript workloads. Performance and security remain key concerns, and speed is a killer feature. A reduced attack surface and no cold starts is likely to be attractive to modern web developers.”

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