Canonical Uses Containers to Deploy Android Appliance on AWS

Canonical today announced it has made available an instance of an Anbox Cloud Appliance that is deployed using containers on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud.

Simon Fels, engineering manager at Canonical for the Anbox Cloud team, says the Anbox Cloud Appliance is a small-scale version of an existing Anbox Cloud platform that developers employ to rapidly prototype Android applications in the cloud.

In addition to x86 processors, Anbox Cloud Appliance also now makes it possible to prototype Android applications on CPUs based on Arm designs as well as graphical processor units (GPUs) from NVIDIA.

Based on the Ubuntu Pro distribution of Linux curated by Canonical, the Anbox Cloud Appliance also gives developers access to both a command line interface (CLI) as well as a web-based user interface to manage and operate Android applications in the cloud. Developers can upload their Android apps, configure and virtualize Android devices, and stream graphical output in real-time to any web or mobile client.

Beyond mobile applications, Fels notes the Android operating system is being employed across a range of use cases involving, for example, a wide range of edge computing applications. The Anbox Cloud Appliance makes it simpler for development teams to collaboratively build and test those applications, he notes.

It’s not clear the degree to which Anbox Cloud itself is being used to run Android applications in a production environment, but at the very least, Anbox Cloud Appliance should make it easier for developers—especially those working from home to help combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic—to collaboratively build applications.

In general, the rate at which application development projects have shifted to the cloud has greatly accelerated. That shift was occurring prior to the pandemic but once organizations shifted to allowing more developers to work from home the advantages of being able to remotely access infrastructure resources from anywhere became obvious. The challenge has been adjusting development processes after the shift to the cloud has been made.

Once application development teams do make the shift to the cloud, it’s not likely they will return to on-premises IT environments even when the pandemic eventually subsides. There may be a handful that decide to make that shift out of intellectual property concerns, but reengineering application development processes again wouldn’t make much sense, especially given the cost of provisioning infrastructure resources for application development projects that consume IT infrastructure resources intermittently. The rise of container platforms has also made it easier to shift projects from one cloud to another in a way that prevents development teams from becoming locked in to a specific cloud platform.

Regardless of the platform employed the focus on developer productivity has never been greater. That’s especially the case among Android application developers that, in addition to gaming, are increasingly driving a much wider range of digital business transformation initiatives that assume the end user has access to a mobile device. One way or another, the number of business applications being built for the Android platform is about to dramatically increase.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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