For the last few years, I’ve been deep into the weeds of infrastructure provisioning as Head of Infrastructure at Ketch, (now) a Series A startup. We’ve come so far on the cloud journey since the early days of AWS, and yet still, I see the same pain points repeated again and again.
Cloud adoption has progressed like The Borg across the galaxy, slowly assimilating everything in its path. But the thing about The Borg is that while it is relentless, it isn’t pretty. Their spaceship looks like a giant cube, but really it’s a giant amalgamation of robot parts. Individual borgs have a bunch of android paraphernalia hanging out of their hairless skulls. “Individual” borgs (technically there aren’t individuals as a collective organism) have faces only a cold, artificial intelligence mother could love.
Cloud infrastructure is the same way. In 2022, infra has exploded with different tools like Terraform, Kubernetes, Helm, Prometheus, etc., crowding the market as cloud adoption has grown. At the same time, the current trend in microservices architecture has also complicated everything it has touched (again, like The Borg!).
With microservices, instead of building a beehive where every drone is the same, we’re building a beehive where each drone is a different species of insect. Each loosely-coupled component is independent, autonomous, and different. Managing a plethora of microservices that need their own deployment, environment settings, and communication can be a nightmare.
Infrastructure today is a headache that has me reaching for my Costco-sized bottle of Tylenol first thing in the morning and a liter of lager in the evening. Here’s my analysis of why things have gotten to be this way.
From previous startups (such as Krux, which exited to Salesforce in 2016), I knew that best practices for setting up your initial infrastructure would pay dividends down the line. Ironically, this is precisely why infrastructure is such a pain in the butt today: it’s really freaking important mate! This is for a few reasons:
You’ve heard this litany before. Nothing here is groundbreaking. It is simple in theory but the devil is in the details to actually keep up to date with all these best practices across all your microservices all the time. Keep in mind not every startup has an infrastructure specialist from the get-go to focus on the minutiae.
I’m someone who lives and breathes the latest in infra tools. But that’s my full-time job, and even then it’s hard to stay current. There are three major time-sucks facing developers in a startup when it comes to infrastructure:
So much time! That’s time that would be better spent watching Formula One or capturing nebulas with your SkyWatcher Esprit 100ED or, you know, building net new product to solve customer problems. Engineers should be focused on building their product, not the product's infrastructure.
Navigating hundreds of cloud products is hard. It’s only getting harder as the cloud providers jam the market with more and more tools. This isn’t just about the time investment searching through a competitive field of offerings, reading up on them, and getting knowledgeable enough to make a decision. It is about the search cost to do so while evaluating the impartial best fit for your startup and the peculiarities of your product. There are too many marketers out there muddying the conversation, too many power users with far too nuanced points of view.
The cloud infra market today is like Amazon’s review system. Every product is 4 ½ stars, and there are hundreds of fake reviews. We need a ‘Wirecutter’ just to provide one simple, clear-cut and reliable recommendation. We need an opinionated architecture developed and recommended by infrastructure experts.
This is all just a long-winded way of saying: I am so excited for Kapstan and very happy to be an advisor for the company. Kapstan is seeking to solve these problems with its three core beliefs:
If you have questions about Kapstan, don’t bother me - I like Kapstan because it lets me spend time on things other than infrastructure for once. (Just kidding - feel free to reach out to the Kapstan team at email@example.com or even get in touch with me for some third-party validation at firstname.lastname@example.org ).