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Cloud Posse

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Cloud Posse

DevOps Accelerator (Consulting)

AWS, Terraform

Cloud Posse is a DevOps Accelerator that helps startups build billion-dollar businesses by designing, building and implementing world-class cloud infrastructures that delight developers and enable their clients to meet all current and future business objectives. Using a prescriptive model, Cloud Posse provides their customers with an end-to-end strategy for IaC that encompasses development and deployment.

Cloud Posse provides a public registry of Terraform modules that are free and publicly available as well as an extensive service catalog for hundreds of services (e.g. RDS db, kubernetes, ECS) and other components that they implement in client engagements.

Erik Osterman, Cloud Posse’s CEO, discusses and provides some insights into their IaC DevOps journey and how they have adopted and leverage Spacelift to orchestrate their customer’s IaC DevOps.

The challenge

As experts in DevOps and IaC, we are focused on designing and implementing an optimized IaC DevOps capability for our customers, unfortunately we were consistently encountering limitations with the solutions we used. We had tried various IaC vendors and open source solutions for IaC DevOps, but all were falling short of our needs and those of our clients.

We use or have used any and all of the mainstream IaC solutions available for Terraform and we understand the desirable and undesirable characteristics of each of them. Either they were too primitive, too expensive, too restrictive or didn’t give us the information that was needed.

We felt that these solutions fell short in four key areas that were critical to customers being able to gain the most value from their IaC DevOps capability. What we needed was a solution that enabled us to account for the following:

  • Tracking the state of all the components – 1 stack is simple, 50 stacks is challenging and we have clients with 600+ stacks, which is impossible to manage without proper accounting
  • Controlling access and what could be added or changed through policy
  • Identifying resource drift and the impact
  • Understanding dependencies between components

Having to establish workarounds with existing tools and then maintain them for our customers just wasn’t an option for the long term. We spent significant time and resources on solutions that were not alleviating the pain points associated with scaling IaC.  We had invested two years of effort trying to adopt tools like Atlantis, Jenkins and Terraform Cloud, but ended up not coming close to what was needed. We also tried working with the Atlantis community, but the open source project stopped taking contributions. Eventually, the project was resuscitated and started accepting contributions, but unfortunately, it was still not anywhere near what is now required to meet customer needs.

The Spacelift experience

The team started the process to find and evaluate the best possible solution that would solve our most pressing issues. We reassessed the existing solutions we already had experience with and nothing much had changed in their capabilities. In the middle of our search, one of our customers asked us to take a look at a new addition to the IaC CI/CD tools market that had caught their attention, Spacelift. We started assessing Spacelift and after an initial demo, we decided a more rigorous proof of concept was required.

We started with the client who asked us to see if Spacelift would work for them and we implemented it in their IaC DevOps environment. Spacelift not only worked, it exceeded our expectations. We were really impressed with both the Spacelift product and the team behind it. The rapid product evolution and tremendous customer service convinced us that it would add immense value to our customer’s ability to effectively manage their IaC based infrastructures.

Impact

We started evaluating Spacelift from purely an engineering perspective around IaC, but as we gained more experience, we soon realized that the real value of the solution was far greater. 

We recognized that Spacelift is actually a powerful accounting system for IaC. You can’t manage the finances of a business without modern accounting software, so imagine trying to manage your infrastructure(s) without knowing the state of it. The IaC CD tools we have tried previously were not able to tell us what’s been deployed, let alone what has been pushed through to all instances. Without this visibility, you have no way of knowing if a change has been fully implemented. Spacelift gives us full traceability back to origin.

Another aspect of the power of Spacelift is continuous drift protection. This feature helps us account for the technical debt that our customers didn’t even know they had. Our customers didn’t understand why drift detection is so important until they realized how frequently they had to deal with it. The best part is that not only does Spacelift detect the drift, it automatically remediates it.

Spacelift has given us and our customers amazing visibility into the end-to-end process and enables accountability across the entire infrastructure, no matter how complex or geographically distributed.

Any customer IaC implementation we complete includes Spacelift as an essential part of the final DevOps IaC environment we set up for them. Spacelift just gets IaC. 

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