Suborbital Extension Engine, and what's next for us

Suborbital Extension Engine, and what's next for us

At Suborbital, we've been focused on building the best plugin system for SaaS applications, and today there are three things that we are pretty pumped to talk about: our new hosted product, our open source projects, and our new look!

The heart of our work is extensibility. Safely enabling third-party plugins will allow developer facing companies to completely change the relationship they have with their users. We have seen our customers add massive value to their products by adding the ability to build on top of their software rather than just be consumers of it. We believe that the ability to program the behaviour of software in our modern workflows will bring about a new era of SaaS as impactful as APIs have been for the past decade. We'll have more to say about this kind of extensibility (what we call 'programmability') later this week.

Say hello to SE2

Starting with our product, we believe that the 'Suborbital Compute' name did not correctly describe what we are offering to the world, and so we've decided to re-introduce it as Suborbital Extension Engine (or SE2 for short). We're also excited to announce today that SE2 is heading into the cloud, and we've opened up a waitlist for our hosted product! We've been hard at work for the past few months building SE2 as a SaaS plugin engine that runs in a globally-replicated, anycast-networked, ARM-powered cloud service. SE2 is powered by a brand new architecture that allows the data plane (i.e. the server that executes the Wasm plugins) to run within your infrastructure or within our global hosted network depending on your team's specific needs.

In short, SE2 is a platform that runs untrusted third-party code close to your servers so that users can customize your application with powerful plugins written in JavaScript, TypeScript, Go, Rust, and more.

The new SE2 hosted data plane runs in replicated regions around the world to be as close to your servers as possible. We know that security and performance are of the utmost importance, and we've designed SE2 to give you the finest possible control over both. Whether you run the data plane on your servers to get sub-millisecond network latency, or in our hosted global network to get a simpler serverless experience, our WebAssembly-based runtime will keep things performant and secure. For more details about the engineering behind the next-generation SE2, check out the SE2 product tour and architecture deep-dive coming later this week.

To sign up for the private beta of the next-generation hosted SE2, you can join the waitlist, and we'll be in touch soon.

Plugins, but make it Open Source

We’ve also been making some big changes around our existing open source projects that we want to share with you. If you've been following Suborbital for a while, you'll know that everything started with Atmo, whose purpose was to act as a backend development framework that ran on WebAssembly. As Suborbital has grown, we've talked with more and more people in the cloud native industry, and we've resoundingly heard that our work with extensibility is the thing getting people excited, not our backend framework.

With that in mind, we've made the decision to deprecate Atmo in its current form and evolve it into our new open source Wasm plugin server, E2 Core. We didn't make this decision lightly, but as we've learned what our community is really excited about, it has become obvious that plugins and extensibility are the future of Suborbital. We believe the future of Wasm backend frameworks are in the good hands of our friends at Fermyon and Cosmonic, and we plan to work with them closely in the future to make E2 Core plugins a part of their ecosystems.

So what is E2 Core? It's a fully self-contained plugin server, and it forms the basis for our new architecture. It uses Wasmtime as its underlying WebAssembly runtime, and layers our robust capability system and developer APIs on top. Compared to Atmo (which ran everything in a single process), E2 Core uses a new multi-process mesh to keep hundreds or even thousands of Wasm modules running happily while routing requests efficiently to any loaded Wasm plugin. All of this is managed automatically, with the ability to dynamically load and unload plugins at will. You might recognize this architecture, as it is similar to how our previous constd project used Sat to create what we call a constellation. You'd be right, because that experiment was so successful, it became our new architecture! E2 Core embeds Sat as a library, and the constd orchestrator has been absorbed into the E2 Core project. The first release of E2 Core will be coming in October, and we're really excited for you to try it out.

Finally, we have a new look! We worked with the team at Unfold to design a new brand, logo, and website to complement this new era of Suborbital. If you visit our website, Twitter, or YouTube channel, you'll see what we mean. Our new logo is cleaner and simpler, while maintaining the character of our space theme. I especially love that the negative space in the logo forms an 'S'! Take a spin through the new site, and make sure to let us know what you think on Twitter.


Want to learn more about what we’re up to? Stay tuned to the blog this week as we take you on a tour of the upcoming release of SE2, including our new admin dashboard, globally replicated hosted data plane, and the new E2 Core-based architecture. We'll also be publishing some Suborbital customer case studies over the coming weeks, along with our thoughts on 'programmability' (the newest member of the extensibility family).

Follow us on Twitter, sign up for the hosted SE2 waitlist, and subscribe to the Suborbital Launchpad newsletter below if you'd like to stay up to date with us. Seeya ✌🏼