Next week, we're thrilled to be participating in API Strategy & Practice November 18-20, a long-standing API-focused conference that draws compelling speakers from a variety of disciplines who discuss both business and technical aspects of APIs. We've been attending APIStrat for several years and have been so impressed with the content and structure of the conference that we decided to sponsor the event this year in one of our favorite cities, Austin, Texas. Both John Sheehan, Co-founder and CEO of Runscope, and Neil Mansilla, VP of Developer Relations, will be speaking at APIStrat, and...
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We’re big fans of automation at Runscope, and most of the automation we practice is behind the scenes. Runscope is built on more than 70 independent microservices that run in the cloud, and being able to orchestrate and automate those services efficiently is absolutely essential to successfully scaling our products and processes. Last week, we attended AutomaCon in Portland, Oregon, a conference focused on automation for DevOps professionals. Engineers interested in the bleeding edge of DevOps came together to hear from the brains and hands behind some of the most popular automation tools like CoreOS, Chef and Puppet.
While AutomaCon is known as the “infrastructure as code” conference, every presenter put forward a different definition of the concept, making for a diverse and compelling collection of talks. What made the conference particularly noteworthy is that the talks were centered on what the presenters were doing for automation in practice—no theories, no speculation, just real tools and experiences from which the rest of the community can learn. We’ve compiled our learnings from the conference into four key themes that reveal some interesting findings about today’s DevOps ecosystem and where it’s headed.
1. No standard definition for “infrastructure as code”
AutomaCon kicked off with the emcee posing the question, “What is ‘infrastructure as code'?", and nearly every presenter over the course of two days responded in his/her own way. Many times, the definition was created through stories about practical applications. My favorite definition came from Adam Jacob, CTO and Co-founder of Chef:
Infrastructure as code “enables the reconstruction of the business from nothing but a source code repository, an application data backup, and bare mental resource.”
Even though others at the conference didn’t give this exact definition, the way they spoke about automation was in the spirit of this quote, and this definition was the most concrete one I heard all week.
2. Containers and orchestration: Perception vs. reality
Docker and containerization are dominating engineering and DevOps conversations of late. AutomaCon had some great talks in this arena, and of note was Kelsey Hightower, Product Manager and Chief Advocate at CoreOS, who did a deep-dive into Kubernetes, as well as Greg Poirier, Factotum at Large at Opsee. However, despite the mindshare, Kelsey looked at containerization as just another tool in the DevOps chest, albeit one that is still in its early stages of adoption.
Prior to AutomaCon, I was convinced that containerization and Docker in particular would saturate the discussions. Yet when Kelsey and other speakers did a poll at the beginning of their talks asking how many attendees had tried out Docker, less than half of the crowd raised their hands. Even more telling, when asked how many use Docker in production, nearly all the hands fell. Clearly, even for this crowd of bleeding edge developers and DevOps engineers, containerization is still in its early days.
3. Security isn’t there (yet)
While the focus of the conference was on automation, presenters made it clear that security cannot be ignored or sacrificed in exchange for benefits of automation. In his presentation, Joseph Damato, Founder of Package Cloud, discussed the fundamental components required for securing automated infrastructure. He also reminded the audience that tools ubiquitous in DevOps are built upon many layers and that we must understand every one of these layers to have confidence in the security of our systems.
4. Death to cut & paste
Many solutions for managing infrastructure as code are in the early adoption phase, so documentation and best practices guides have not yet been sufficiently provided. The steep learning curve to these solutions have led to an unprecedented amount of cut-and-paste configurations, and several speakers discussed the danger of this practice. Relying on a cut-and-paste solution is a quick fix, but precludes you from learning the details and nuances of a framework or tool before considering the solution ready for production.
Luke Kanies, CEO and Founder of Puppet Labs, likened the current state of software automation to that of the evolution of automobile manufacturing. Kanies said that there were dozens of companies in the early 20th century along with Ford Motor Company that implemented manufacturing optimizations. Yet it was Henry Ford’s relentless focus on volume that helped evolve manufacturing, ultimately to Ford’s success. While the automobile manufacturing process was much faster, Ford didn’t sacrifice quality. This parallels to today’s automation tools in that we must not sacrifice quality purely for the sake of automation and scale.
Automation is not new, and in DevOps, there are tons of new ideas and tools coming out. Yet as we learned at AutomaCon, we must not leave behind the care and attention to detail as we move forward into more and more automated processes. We’re excited to take these learnings on the road at our next conference appearance. We’ll be at AWS re:Invent October 6-9 in Las Vegas, and we’d love to chat with you about automation and anything API-related. Sign up for Runscope free and catch us at re:Invent to discuss how to automate your API monitoring and testing processes.
One of the most productive ways to become a better developer is to learn from the successes and failures of others. It is encouraging to see more companies are opening their doors, sharing their stories on how they built their products, and their infrastructure. Recently at APIdays in Sydney, Australia, Runscope Co-founder and CEO John Sheehan shared insights into our experiences building a microservices-based product. We’ve boiled his talk into six key lessons for anyone thinking about building microservices in their organization.
1. Invest in infrastructure
We believe microservices are really a combination of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and DevOps. So before building out microservices, consider this warning: if you’re not willing to invest in DevOps infrastructure, then microservices are likely to cause pain.
2. Start small
Runscope started with only two services, but now has more than 40, all cooperating to deliver the Runscope features our users love. Microservices is a long-term investment in flexibility that is best introduced early in a project.
3. The "micro" is up to you
One of the most common questions we hear is, how big is micro? Unfortunately there is no precise answer to the question. The most useful guidance, despite being vague, is simply to try and limit a microservice to perform one single job.
4. Divide and conquer
It is common sense that managing small systems is easier than managing large systems. Smaller systems that interact with each other using HTTP can be combined to solve large problems. By ensuring that these services are independently deployable and share no resources, they can be independently scalable and built to tolerate network failures.
5. Benefit from people-oriented architecture
The same principles that bring benefits to the system architecture also spill over to the human aspects of software development. Teams can focus on single services, reducing the cognitive load for learning, problem solving and adding features. New developers have an easier time learning how systems interact because they all follow the HTTP uniform interface, which is not only functionally agnostic, but also language agnostic.
6. Consistency overcomes complexity
Often the net benefits of dividing large problems into smaller ones are lost due to the increased complexity of integrating components. However, in this case Runscope has been able to leverage the uniform integration interface to build Smart Client and Smart Service tooling to eliminate much of the integration pain. The end result is a net win for Runscope’s employees who can deliver our customers reliable features faster than ever.
Watch John’s full talk from APIdays to learn more about Runscope’s microservices infrastructure and how you can take these lessons to your business. See how Runscope can help you monitor the health of your own microservices by signing up for free.
When we started Runscope in 2013, we knew that we wanted to optimize for scale without over-architecting too early. So we built Runscope around small, independent, “smart” services that can be quickly built, deployed and scaled as we grow. By implementing these microservices, we can independently scale each individual service as they require more capacity, without having to allocate resources to the entire cluster. Furthermore, we can independently deploy each service more quickly.
What began as a few key services has evolved into more than 50 internal services serving over 1 billion requests per month, all while deploying to our cluster more than 50 times a day.
How did we implement microservices as the core of our architecture? And how can you bring these principles into your organization? We’re hitting the road and bringing the conversation to you to talk about microservices and why API monitoring and testing is inherent and critical to leveraging successful microservices. Check out where we’ll be this month below. If you can’t make the talks, you can find some of the Runscope team in the crowd wearing our 200 OK t-shirts!
April 10-12 | PyCon
Catch Runscope Co-Founder and CTO Frank Stratton’s talk, Smart Services & Smart Clients: How Microservices Change the Way You Build and Deploy Code, today at 2:35 p.m. EDT. If you can’t attend the session, the Runscope team has a booth (and free t-shirts if you sign up)!
April 13 | SF Microservices Meetup Kickoff
Runscope HQ, San Francisco, CA
We’re excited to host the inaugural event for the SF Microservices Meetup. Come by for beer, bratwurst and banter.
April 20-22 | Fluent
San Francisco, CA
Runscope’s Co-Founder and CEO John Sheehan, and Principal Engineer Ryan Park, will present Building Smarter Microservices with Scale-Oriented Architecture on April 22 at 3 p.m. PDT.
Last week at the DocuSign Momentum conference (DSM) in San Francisco, leaders across industries gathered to dive deep into a variety of successful use cases leveraging DocuSign’s Digital Transaction Management (DTM) platform, which includes authentication, identity management, and collaboration. A common thread among keynotes and sponsors was that partner integrations are vital to the power and reach of a product.
APIs are critical to enabling these integrations - for instance, Salesforce.com integrates with the DocuSign API to easily push contracts, get e-signatures and push notifications to sales teams. But with data continuously flowing in and out from multiple parties, monitoring and tracking the health of your API and integrations is essential to maintaining strong partnerships and a reliable end-user experience.
At Runscope, we believe that maintaining a healthy API boils down to being able to monitor, log, measure and share your API usage. Runscope offers a suite of tools, both in its product offerings and in the community-driven products it supports, that help you maintain reliable APIs and integrations.
Neil Mansilla, head of developer relations at Runscope, presented at DSM DevCon to shed light on these tools and how to use them. Go through his presentation below, and sign up for a free 30-day trial of Runscope to begin testing your APIs right away.
Last week, Xamarin held their Evolve conference that centered around cross-platform mobile development. Runscope developer advocate Darrel Miller attended the conference and gave a fantastic talk titled, "HATEOAS - Hypermedia As The Evader Of App Stores." Read Darrel's recap of his experience at Evolve.
This past week I spent in Atlanta, Georgia, attending Xamarin Evolve and Atlanta Code Camp. This was the second annual Evolve conference and attendance went from 600 the first year to 1200 this year. This year’s event was an impressive affair.
Cultivating an Niche
Not only did the number of attendees grow significantly from last year, there were 700 of those people who attended the pre-conference training sessions. This is a significant amount of demand for what is perceived by some to be a fairly expensive set of tools to build cross-platform native mobile applications.
As Mike Beverly notes, Xamarin are making the transition from a place where C# .Net developers go to create iOS and Android versions of their applications, to a cross platform solution for developers of all platforms who are prepared to learn C# and .net.
The idea that you can build mobile applications that have the look and feel of the native platform, but share a significant chunk of client code between platforms is a lofty goal. One that Xamarin seem to be making significant progress towards.