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IaC Helps Simplify The Challenges of Distributed Environments | Episode 3


Distributed environments can be challenging with organizations struggling to pull together all the elements across multi-sites and multi-teams. Synchronization, in particular, can be a key challenge in distributed environments since it is easy to confuse the configuration and the automation with the state of the system.

In the third episode of our six-episode series on scaling Infrastructure as Code (IaC), Swapnil Bhartiya sits down with Rob Hirschfeld, CEO and Co-Founder of RackN, to discuss what distributed means in the context of IaC. He explores the main challenges of navigating distributed environments and how infrastructure as code can help.

Key highlights from this video interview are:

  • Distributed in the context of IaC and IaC operations describes having infrastructure running in lots of places but it can also refer to having teams in different places. Hirschfeld discusses what a distributed environment can mean in terms of having environments in different locations with different control planes and why it translates to a more resilient IaC plan and process.
  • Hirschfeld explains how one of the unexpected benefits of IaC using immutable version controlled repeatable modules has been that it simplifies doing work in distributed infrastructures and distributed teams. He takes us through why it works so well and goes into detail about how it enables their customers to run in air gap environments.
  • One of the major challenges of distributed environments is synchronization, with people confusing the configuration and automation with the state of the system. Ensuring the control plane is localized as much as possible can help. Hirschfeld walks us through a use case where a centralized team wants to manage hundreds or thousands of edge sites to demonstrate how this can work.
  • CI/CD pipeline automation is essential to scaling infrastructure as code. Hirschfeld explains how IaC can be used to make CI/CD pipelines run smoothly going into detail about several scenarios which benefit from this approach. He explains how controlling the process in this very fine grained way is essential to growing and scaling the systems.
  • Although RackN has built many capabilities for multi-site management to support globally distributed infrastructure, their customers are using it as a multi-team collaboration feature. Hirschfeld discusses why their customers are finding this beneficial enabling teams have the ability to decide when they are ready to bring on a change to their infrastructure.
  • Distributed operations can be challenging and Hirschfeld believes it needs to be thought about earlier in the process. He feels that distributed operations is really about the culmination of coordinating all the layers of operations that then work together in a timely manner. He notes that if you get it right, the ROIs are huge.
  • Hirschfeld explains how it is easy to think solely about bringing sites up or getting them running, but he feels that it is a better approach to start from the Day 2 needs, since often Day 2 work includes things that would be done on Day 1 or Day 0. He discusses why this approach is a more powerful way to pick and choose your distributed ops.

Connect with Rob Hirschfeld (LinkedIn, Twitter)
Learn more about RackN (Twitter)

The summary of the show is written by Emily Nicholls.