Zesty.io recently migrated its sites to the Google Cloud Platform from Rackspace—a process the company believes will make it more agile while streamlining its operations. Zesty.io community manager Phil Ballew recently spoke with Chris Hiestand, Zesty.io’s DevOps leader, to discuss some of the reasons for the migration and get a feel for just what the new cloud system brings to the company.
Ballew: So what exactly is Google Cloud, and how does that compare to Rackspace?
Hiestand: Google Cloud Platform is similar to AWS, Rackspace or Azure; they manage infrastructure and services to host your applications and data on. With Zesty.io being SaaS, there are servers running the user’s website that we will manage, and these names are the companies that provide the infrastructure.
Ballew: So what about Google Cloud made you choose that over Rackspace?
Hiestand: The difference is that Rackspace has been around for a long time and has produced great business tools, but Google’s tools, which they have been using internally for a while and are now making publicly available, will fit the needs for Zesty.io as we scale out at a rapid pace. Some tech that Google created about 10 years ago is considered cutting-edge today.
Ballew: What was the reason and initial appeal for moving from Rackspace to Google Cloud?
Hiestand: Google’s infrastructure is a well-designed fit for containers using the Kubernetes project. Their architecture is designed to minimize operations work, saving labor. Using GCP, we can focus more on writing good software and less on the drudgery of making that software run. Google’s network is remarkable in every respect: good security, bandwidth within the data center, between data centers and out to the greater internet. And their compute nodes are set up in such a way that when they do maintenance, they can move our systems around and we don’t even know it. We stay running and focused while they maintain the hardware.
Ballew: Kubernetes? What is that exactly?
Hiestand: Kubernetes is a container orchestration tool based on Google technology that we use on GCP to help us automate and scale the deployment of our software and websites for the users. It helps us think about our applications first and operations a distant second. It also empowers Zesty.io engineers to own what’s running in ops.
Ballew: What other technologies are you using?
Hiestand: Kubernetes is built on container technology, so we also use Docker extensively in development.
Ballew: What were some of the major obstacles that you ran into when migrating to Google Cloud?
Hiestand: The technical parts are pretty straightforward. The hardest part is probably coordinating with customers. We are mitigating this by keeping Rackspace and Google Cloud in production at the same time, giving customers time to update their DNS records.
DNS instructions can be found at: https://developer.zesty.io/docs/satellite-sites/launching-a-satellite-site
Ballew: What are some of the benefits Zesty.io users will see from this switch?
Hiestand: The most obvious benefit will be the faster page load speeds of Zesty.io-developed websites, including slightly faster application load times for Zesty.io developers. In the not-too-distant future, international load times will be very good, particularly for our enterprise customers. In addition, we are pushing a lot of new features to Zesty.io that will be on the Google Cloud version soon for people to try out. The rollout to GCP also improves our software engineer development velocity so we can get improvements delivered to our customers faster.
Ballew: Even though Zesty.io users have not all been moved to Google Cloud, is there the option to move now if somebody wanted to, and if so, how can they do that?
Hiestand: Sure! I would love to help out with that. They can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. After we migrate their site, they can update their DNS to point to the new CNAME when they are ready, and customers won’t be able to update their Rackspace website anymore. They will also want to update their bookmarks because the administration URLs have changed, but for the time being, they will get automatically redirected to the new ones. We can help them with any questions they have. Eventually, we will be updating all websites for all users. If you do not update your CNAME, it will take a little extra time for your site to load because of additional network routing from Rackspace to GCP.
About the Author / Phil Ballew
Phil Ballew is the Zesty.io community manager, working with developers and building the Zesty.io community through many unique outlets. Connect with him on LinkedIn.