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Cloud Infrastructure Podcast Episodes

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Lars Kamp
Michael Driscoll

Creating an analytics dashboard is a time-consuming process that involves stitching together many components: ELT pipelines, cloud warehouses, transformation and semantic layers, data catalogs, and a dashboard tool. The flexibility of the Modern Data Stack (MDS) also means a great deal of complexity and many design decisions.

Rill Data is on a mission to radically simplify how developers create operational dashboards. Rill offers blazing fast dashboards that come bundled with a real-time analytical database and a modeling layer.

Michael Driscoll is the co-founder and CEO of Rill Data. In this episode, Mike demos the latest 0.16 release of Rill Developer.

There are three pieces of infrastructure that form a Rill dashboard application:

  • Sources: Rill ships with a CLI you can use to import data from an object store like AWS S3 or Google Cloud Storage. Rill treats the object store as the source of truth and imports data for the "last-mile ETL." As data in the object store changes, Rill orchestrates incremental updates.
  • Runtime: The runtime itself consists of a database (DuckDB), a web UI for rendering the dashboards (SvelteKit), and a middleware written in Go. Rill Enterprise replaces DuckDB with Apache Druid to process large data sets.
  • Models: Configuration code that parameterizes the dashboards, using YAML and SQL.

Bringing these things together in one application is an opinionated way to transform data to dashboards that Mike says covers "80%+ of the use cases that [they've] come across when building operational dashboards." Rill customers create dashboards to build analytics for their advertising, marketplace, and infrastructure operations.

Rill's stack is a departure from point-and-click interfaces, moving towards what Mike calls "BI-as-code." Source definitions and metrics are implemented in YAML, and models create a SQL query. The combination of SQL and YAML creates a BI layer that can be checked into a Git repository, which can then be managed automatically by CI workflows.

We also cover broader trends in our discussion, including the convergence of engineering and analytics cultures as engineers adopt practices from analytics to work with infrastructure data. Watch this episode to learn more about building data infrastructure for engineering teams with SQL and YAML with Rill.

Lars Kamp
Waldemar Hummer

Waldemar Hummer is Co-Founder and CTO at LocalStack. LocalStack gives you a fully functional local cloud stack so you can develop and test your cloud and serverless apps offline. LocalStack is an open-source project that started at Atlassian, where its initial purpose was to keep developers productive on their daily commutes despite poor internet connectivity.

LocalStack emulates AWS cloud services on your laptop, increasing the number of phases in your infrastructure environment to four: local, test, staging, and production—with LocalStack efficiently covering the local and test phases (including CI builds). LocalStack also integrates with a large set of other cloud tools, such as Terraform, Pulumi, and CDK.

While the commute problem went mostly away with COVID, it became clear that a local development environment has speed, quality, and cost advantages. Local provisioning of resources is faster and can speed up dev feedback cycles by an order of magnitude. Developers can start their work without IAM enforcement, then later introduce security policies and migrate to the cloud. A local environment also reduces the cost of cloud sandbox accounts.

A key requirement for LocalStack to be valuable is parity with cloud provider services, which means replicating services and API responses. LocalStack is built in Python, and Waldemar walks us through LocalStack's process of building out the platform to have 99% parity with AWS.

In this episode, we also cover developer marketing, community building, and how LocalStack amassed over 44,000 stars on GitHub. Waldemar takes us through both a live LocalStack demo and a deep-dive into LocalStack's GitHub repository.

Lars Kamp
Jonathan Bernales

There is a new generation of companies that are building their applications 100% cloud-native, with a pure serverless paradigm. One such company is Ekonoo, a French FinTech startup that enables customers and organizations to efficiently invest in retirement funds.

Jonathan Bernales is a DevOps Engineer at Ekonoo. In this interview, Jonathan walks us through Ekonoo's approach of giving developers the autonomy to build and deploy code along with the responsibility for security and cost.

Holding developers responsible for security and cost is a rather new part of "shift-left." Cost awareness becomes part of the development culture. To keep cloud bills under control, Ekonoo developers are responsible for their individual test accounts and have access to the AWS Billing Console and AWS Cost Explorer.

At Ekonoo, there is no dedicated "production team." Rather, DevOps collaborates with developers to create guidelines and guardrails for architecture, automation, security, and cost. The entire Ekonoo stack runs on AWS using native AWS services such as CloudFormation, Lambda, and Step Functions.

Watch this episode to learn about Ekonoo's transition to a microservices architecture and the lessons learned along the way.

Lars Kamp
Andreas Grabner

Andreas Grabner is a DevOps Activist at Dynatrace, where he has fifteen years of experience helping developers, testers, operations, and XOps folks do their jobs more efficiently.

In this episode, Andreas and I discuss how the shift to cloud-native and more dynamic infrastructure is followed by a change in how developers, architects, and site reliability engineers (SREs) work together.

With the sheer quantity of resources running in cloud-native infrastructure and the monitoring signals produced by each resource, the only way to keep growing without "throwing people at the problem" is to turn to automation.

Andreas makes a noteworthy distinction between DevOps engineers and SREs:

  • DevOps engineers use automation to speed up delivery and get new changes into production.
  • SREs use automation to keep production healthy.

SREs are often former IT operations and system administrators responsible for physical machines, virtual machines (VMs), and Kubernetes clusters. As SREs, they move up the stack and become responsible for everything from the bottom of the stack all the way up to serverless functions and the service itself.

We dive into the differences between SLAs, SLOs, and Google's four golden signals of monitoring—latency, traffic, errors, and saturation. Andreas shares the example of a bank and how they started defining SLOs to measure the growth of their mobile app business versus just defining engineering metrics.

This episode covers "engineering for game days," chaos engineering, and making the unplannable, plannable. Andreas shares his perspective on the general trend to "shift left" and include performance engineering in the development and architecture of cloud-native systems.

Lars Kamp

Dvir Mizrahi is Head of Financial Engineering at Wix, the leader in website creation with 220 million users running e-commerce operations. And with over six thousand employees, Wix ships more than fifty thousand builds each day.

Dvir is also among the original authors of the AWS Cloud Financial Management certification.

In this episode, Dvir covers how Wix shifted from FinOps to Financial Engineering. It's an engineering-first approach to build tooling and processes tracking financial key performance indicators (KPIs) for its multi-cloud infrastructure. The new approach established a culture of financial responsibility that supports Wix's continued growth.

Wix started in 2006 and initially ran its infrastructure on-premise. Today, Wix runs a multi-cloud environment on Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services (AWS). As Wix shifted from on-premise to the cloud, the procurement process of resources changed with it.

In the old world, purchasing additional hardware was a closed and controlled process. But in the cloud, Dvir compares resource procurement to "a supermarket where people can go in, take whatever they want, and leave without passing the registers." A developer could spin up a hundred thousand instances with just the click of a button.

Wix realized the financial risk that comes with liberal permissions to spin up infrastructure and hired Dvir in 2017. FinOps approaches infrastructure governance from a billing perspective and handles workloads already provisioned in the cloud. But at Wix's scale, where there are thousands of engineers, the FinOps approach stops working. "By the time you have a financial incident, it's too late and you didn't govern anything."

Dvir shifted the strategy to proactively preventing waste in the first place, by incorporating financial KPIs into engineering goals. In addition, Dvir built an internal platform called "InfraGod" which collects infrastructure data, integrates with Terraform, and enforces rules at the time of resource provisioning. Taking action at the time resources are provisioned rather than after the fact is "the difference between Finance and Financial Engineering."

Listen to this episode for a deep dive into the tactics that Dvir uses to run Financial Engineering at Wix, such as data collection, engineering post-mortems, monthly reports, and mandatory resource tagging.

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