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DevOps? DevEverything! (Or why I joined Architect)

I believe in the dependency-aware delivery platform so much that I joined Architect as a Senior Developer Advocate in April.

Mandy Hubbard Jul 5

There was a time when developers wrote code, QA engineers tested the code, Ops handled deployment and monitoring, and the concept of observability did not even exist. The DevOps movement intended to break down the silos between development and operations, but for many software companies, this was merely a rename of the Ops team to the DevOps team. Today, things are finally changing for real.

The challenges of evolution

Moving from traditional software development to a modern engineering team can be shocking for a developer. In the code repositories of today’s teams, you’ll find not only code but tests in many flavors, Terraform scripts, Dockerfiles, cdk8s declarations, Helm charts, and more.

The team’s Kanban board includes tickets for writing the code to implement new features and tickets for creating unit tests, integration tests, and system-level tests for those new features. You’ll find tickets for adding instrumentation for monitoring and observability tools to support the features, and tickets for creating or modifying infrastructure.

Additionally, in many organizations, developers are on call to support these applications in production under the guise that they will produce better code with better monitoring if they are on the hook to support it. Developers are responsible for so much more than writing code these days.

Not only are the responsibilities of the developer expanding, but the applications are becoming more complex and distributed as well. It is becoming more and more difficult for a developer to spin up an isolated piece of the application stack on their local machine and have it work in a meaningful way. While the move to microservices provides benefits to the application, especially in scalability and reliability, it adds even more friction to the developer’s day-to-day life.

I empathize with the developer who just wants to write the code.

Enter Architect

I am looking for some help on NestJS microservices one day when I stumbled upon a blog post on the Architect website. The post is extremely helpful in answering my NestJS questions, and I naturally become intrigued by the company that published it.

They’re a dependency-aware continuous delivery platform.

This seems too good to be true. As a CI/CD aficionado and long-time QA engineer, I am skeptical. I decide to run through a sample application just for fun. Within minutes, I have a full-blown application with a React frontend, a Node.js REST API, and a Postgres database running in containers on my laptop! I’m sold.

I am accustomed to configuring my local environment to use dependencies running in staging just to get the piece of the application I am developing to run. When I encounter a problem, I don’t immediately know if there is a bug in my code or if I am working with an unstable version of one of the dependencies. With the Architect CLI, I can spin up these services locally, using tagged versions and a local database.

You can do this, too! All you have to do is install the Architect CLI and run one of the starter projects. The CLI has commands that make the steps easy, and the documentation walks you through them. You do need Docker installed to run these steps, but what developer doesn’t have Docker installed already?

Behind the curtain

As much as I love automagical processes, I always want to see what levers are being pulled behind the curtain.

It turns out that the levers are being pulled by an architect.yml file that looks very much like a Docker Compose file because it is a Docker Compose file and so much more.

In the React sample application, the architect.yml file defines each discrete portion of the application stack as a service, and the entire stack is deployed as a single Architect Component.

Each service in an Architect Component runs in a separate Docker container, and the database persists to a local volume so that you can seed it with meaningful test data and reuse it throughout the development process.

The sample application demonstrates how to configure hot reloading of the components so that the running containers immediately reflect changes made in the local development environment. Most languages and frameworks have this capability, and the example app shows how to use a separate Dockerfile for development so that no unnecessary packages are included in the production version of your Docker image.

Beyond the local environment

The sample application impresses me with the ease with which I am able to run it locally, but since the website advertises A dependency-aware continuous delivery platform, I eagerly press forward to see the continuous delivery in action.

I create an Architect account for free! After logging in through the CLI and registering the components of the example application in the Architect registry, I deploy the entire application stack with a single CLI command.

I then log into Architect and watch the deployment status of each service until Architect deploys the entire application.

The preview environment

Not only am I able to run the example application locally with little effort, but it is just as easy to provision a new preview environment on the Architect platform with a single CLI command. My QA brain nearly explodes with excitement! Oh the possibilities!

Mind blown!

I envision integrating this functionality into CI/CD so that system and integration tests can be run against an Architect preview environment with every pull request. I can even share this environment with product managers and other stakeholders before my changes are even deployed to the staging environment.

It’s no surprise to find information in the docs on how to plug into Github Actions, and the instructions are clear enough that you can configure any CI/CD platform to work with Architect.

Architect is endgame

After spending some time with the product, I am certain that Architect has created something special and wish I’d had these tools available on every development team I’ve ever been a part of.

I believe in the platform so much that I joined as a Senior Developer Advocate in April so that I can share this magic with the development community and ensure that the new features we are building help solve the most pressing problems faced by developers in today’s complicated and ever-changing world of software development.