Canonical scales down Anbox Cloud to an appliance on AWS

How many Android apps can you fit on an EC2 instance?

Canonical has shrunk its Anbox Cloud Android app container platform with an appliance available on the AWS Marketplace.

Android developers using the Anbox Cloud Appliance will now require a virtual or bare-metal machine on AWS (or Oracle OCI, according to Ubuntu's documentation) in order to load up their applications for prototyping or small-scale deployments.

Anbox Cloud turned up earlier this year as a platform to containerise workloads using Android as a guest operating system. Back then, Canonical boasted of the elasticity available by running things in the cloud (be it AWS, OCI, Azure or GCP.) However, while scaling out might be one thing, scaling in is not quite the same, hence the appliance.

As with the full Cloud version, x86 and Arm instances are supported, and the availability of Nvidia GPUs on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud G4 instances should make for some intriguing hardware acceleration options for developers keen to stream graphical output to web or mobile clients.

Users wanting to make use of those Nvidia GPUs will, however, have to wait until later in 2021 if Arm is their thing.

It comes at a cost, of course. As well as having an AWS budget, customers will need an Ubuntu Advantage for Applications token. We asked Canonical for pricing, but it has yet to respond. As an example of Advantage prices, Enterprise users of Ubuntu Advantage for Infrastructure can expect to pay anywhere from $225 for the "Essential" plan to $1,500 per year per machine for the "Advanced" plan for physical servers.

Canonical, however, warned users that the free Ubuntu Advantage for Infrastructure token handed out for personal use "does NOT work and will result in a failed deployment."

As for what is required of the AWS instance on which Anbox Cloud Appliance will be installed, Canonical recommends that the root disk be at least 50GB in size with an additional 50GB EBS volume in which the containers will be stored. The disk storage requirements of the Anbox Cloud Appliance control plane services and Android instances have come in at 15GB for the OS as well as another 3GB multiplied by the number of Android instances needed.

Anbox Cloud was already a useful solution in a crowded Android-on-Linux world for users seeking to deploy their apps in the cloud, and the addition of the Appliance version opens up additional possibilities. There is also the option of rolling one's own, thanks to the Anbox source available on GitHub, although as with Canonical's cloudier take on things, only Ubuntu 18.04 and 20.04 are officially supported. ®

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