Canonical offers scalable mobile Android apps in the cloud

New Android technology allows enterprise users to offload compute, storage and energy-intensive applications from devices to the cloud

The publisher of the Ubuntu public cloud operating system, Canonical, has unveiled Anbox Cloud, a mobile platform containerising workloads using Android as a guest operating system and enabling enterprises to distribute applications from the cloud.

Canonical believes the ability to offload compute, storage and energy-intensive applications from devices (x86 and ARM) to the cloud enables users to consume advanced workloads by streaming them directly to their device. This would allow developers to deliver an on-demand application experience through a platform that provides more control over performance and infrastructure costs, with the flexibility to scale based on user demand.

The end result, said Canonical, is that enterprises and service providers can deliver mobile applications at scale, more securely and independently of a device’s capabilities.

Intended uses cases for Anbox Cloud include enterprise workplace applications, software testing and mobile device virtualisation. For example, the technology could be used to support enterprises in accelerating their digital transformation initiatives by delivering workplace applications directly to employees’ devices, while maintaining the assurance of data privacy and compliance.

Enterprises could potentially reduce their internal application development costs by providing a single application that can be used across different form factors and operating systems.

Developers can also utilise Anbox Cloud as part of their application development process to emulate Android devices across different test scenarios and for integration in continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines.

It can also be hosted in the public cloud to boost capacity, high reliability and elasticity or on a private cloud edge infrastructure, where low latency and data privacy are a priority. Public and private cloud service providers can integrate Anbox Cloud into their offerings to enable the delivery of mobile applications in a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) or software-as-a-service (SaaS) model.

Telecommunications providers can also use the platform to create value-added services based on virtualised mobile devices for their 4G, LTE and 5G mobile network customers.

Anbox Cloud is built on a range of Canonical technologies and runs Android on the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS kernel. Containerisation is provided by isolated LXD system containers which are claimed to offer at least twice the container density compared with Android emulation in virtual machines, depending on workload complexity. A higher container density drives scalability up and unit economics down. The Ubuntu Advantage support programme is included with Anbox Cloud, providing continuous support and security updates for up to 10 years.

To optimise the Anbox Cloud experience, Canonical partners with cloud computing infrastructure provider Packet as an option to deploy Anbox Cloud on-premise or at target edge locations around the world. It also collaborates with Ampere (ARM) and Intel (x86) as silicon partners.

“Driven by emerging 5G networks and edge computing, millions of users will benefit from access to ultra-rich, on-demand Android applications on a platform of their choice,” said Stephan Fabel, director of product at Canonical. “Enterprises are now empowered to deliver high-performance, high-density computing to any device remotely, with reduced power consumption and in an economical manner.”

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