As I’ve blogged about in prior posts, Strings is designed to help teams get from a legacy infrastructure mindset to a consistent configuration deployment or partially cloud aware mindset. Advanced teams that are fully cloud-aware and are practicing full stack DevOps are managing everything from their virtual infrastructure to their product code as a unit, with no distinction between code and infrastructure. Such teams are likely too mature for Strings.
Many cloud-aware teams prefer to host their stack on ephemeral environments like Amazon Web Services. The AWS philosophy is all about treating virtual servers as dynamic, disposable components in a wider application context. So much so that Amazon’s CTO has said that “An EC2 instance is not a server-it’s a building block.”
AWS already has a lot of the services that we built Strings on top of, like Amazon Directory Service for LDAP, Route 53 for an external and internal DNS, OpsWorks for Chef, CloudFormation for blueprints, and so on.
The Rackspace Cloud, by comparison, has historically targeted a different, but no less important, market segment: more legacy oriented teams that (at least when first moving into the cloud) have tended to treat servers somewhat like pets. They typically name each server, give it a unique configuration and strive to keep it up-and-running. Rackspace started out as a dedicated hosting company, after all.
But despite Rackspace’s introduction of OpenStack services like Heat (which is basically CloudFormation for OpenStack) and Cloud DNS, it can still be a challenge, depending on the skills you have available, to formulate a scalable and reliable platform on Rackspace-only services. Rackspace doesn’t yet have an equivalent configuration management type service to AWS OpsWorks, for example.
This is why our Bitlancer Strings Puppet-as-a-Service offering is a no-brainer for Rackspace Managed Cloud customers-Strings provides centralized authentication, automated formations and application deployment. Strings consumes Rackspace services wherever possible, and also fills in the gaps where Rackspace doesn’t have service to consume. In particular, Strings saves teams from the stress and strain of DIY configuration management with Puppet and similar tools.
Bitlancer can certainly create Strings-like experiences for our clients that want to use the Amazon services that Strings can consume. Likewise, we can help our more legacy-minded clients make the transition to full-stack DevOps.
But the real sweet spot for Strings is in the hands of those many teams that are looking to get past the manual intervention stage to automate the management of cloud servers and configurations and really start deriving serious value from utility computing.
UPDATE: Bitlancer Strings is now open source. For more information, visit Strings Documentation on Github.