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Fastly allows developers to execute JavaScript with no cold start times

By Ryan Morris-Reade
Fri 23 Jul 2021

Global edge cloud platform provider Fastly has announced the availability of JavaScript in Compute@Edge, allowing developers to execute JavaScript code without having to worry about cold start times. 

The company says with more JavaScript developers in the world than any other development language, the availability of a faster, more secure way of building with JavaScript brings Compute@Edges safety benefits and speedy execution to more workloads around the globe.

“When we launched Compute@Edge with a language-agnostic vision, JavaScript wasn’t one of the languages we evaluated for support,” says Fastly CTO, Tyler McMullen.

“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. However, since we released Compute@Edge, JavaScript has been the most requested language, 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 the continued adoption of a powerful technology for businesses as they build modern digital experiences.”

McMullen says for years 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 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 lacking 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 says key architectural decisions made when Compute@Edge was initially built solves both of these challenges. Instead of relying on existing technologies for serverless compute, like reusable containers, Fastly created Compute@Edge using WebAssembly. This high-performance technology allows Compute@Edge to scale with startup times that are 100x faster than other serverless offerings on the market. The company says customers can now execute JavaScript code without having to worry about cold start times. 

Fastly developed a highly secure isolation technology that creates and destroys a sandbox for each request from JavaScript compiled through WebAssembly.

“JavaScript is the most popular programming language today by a distance, continuing to grow and find new niches,” says RedMonk analyst and co-founder, James Governor. 

“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 are likely to be attractive to modern web developers.”

 
 

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