Canonical debuts Anbox Cloud to host Android apps in public or private clouds

Canonical debuts Anbox Cloud to deploy applications from the cloud to devices using the Android operating system. (Pixabay)

Canonical announced its Anbox Cloud, which allows service providers and enterprises to distribute Android apps from the cloud by using containers. Offloading compute, storage and energy-intensive applications from hardware to the cloud allows end-users to stream applications to their devices using Android as a guest operating system. Use cases for Anbox Cloud include cloud gaming, enterprise workplace applications, software testing, and mobile device virtualization.

Anbox Cloud has been in the works for the last two years by a fully dedicated team at Canonical, according to Galem Kayo, product manager for Ubuntu at Canonical. With Anbox Cloud, developers can deliver an on-demand application experience through a platform that gives providers more control over performance and infrastructure costs, along with the ability to scale based on user demand.

For cloud gaming, Anbox Cloud enables graphic and memory-intensive mobile games to be scaled to a large number of users, while ensuring the responsiveness and low latency that gamers demand. Since Anbox Cloud creates an on-demand experience for gamers, they don't need to download their games locally onto a device.

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“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, in a statement. “Enterprises are now empowered to deliver high performance, high density computing to any device remotely, with reduced power consumption and in an economical manner.”

Canonical also envisions Anbox Cloud being used by developers as a way to emulate "thousands of Android" devices across various test scenarios and as a means to integrate their apps into in CI/CD (continuous integration and continuous delivery) pipelines.

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

In addition, telecommunications providers can also create value-added services based on virtualized mobile devices for their 4G, LTE and 5G mobile network customers. Canonical didn't say what service providers were currently using Anbox Cloud.

In order to deploy Anbox Cloud on premises at targeted edge locations, Canonical has partnered with Packet Hosting, which is an edge cloud computing infrastructure provider.

"Anbox Cloud is used by mobile telco service providers that want to offer value added services on top of 5G or LTE networks." Kayo said. "The solution gives telco service providers powerful levers to create innovative digital experiences for their subscribers.

"Furthermore, enterprises undergoing digital transformation can use Anbox Cloud to deliver mobile applications on smartphones or tablets to their workforce. The Anbox Cloud offering will be particularly attractive to sectors with a mobile workforce, like manufacturing, retail, logistics, transportation, healthcare and more. Anbox Cloud offers a secure and cost effective way to distribute and manage mobile applications in a consistent manner on a fleet of devices."

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Kayo said Anbox Cloud uses LXD system containers rather than traditional virtual machines (VMs) running in a hypervisor. He said LXD was a more efficient way of virtualization because it has a lower overhead compared to virtual machines—thanks to a shared Linux Kernel.

"Furthermore LXD containers are easier to manage since they expose a REST API. As a result Anbox Cloud offers a 2X container density and ease of manageability compared to VMs," according to Kayo.

Canonical also teamed up with Ampere (ARM) and Intel (x86) as silicon partners. Canonical said the hardware options are optimized to provide the best density, GPU models and cost efficiency to shorten the time to market for customers building their services on top of Anbox Cloud.

"Canonical collaborates with leading silicon vendors to optimize application performance in the cloud," Kayo said. "The collaboration is geared towards software optimization on Arm and Intel servers that host Anbox Cloud in data centers. From an end-user perspective, Anbox Cloud is platform agnostic. It works the same on any end device, ARM or x86."

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