Infrastructure 101: behind the success of the largest tech companies

Do you think your company has an efficient infrastructure? Do you believe there are ways in which your company’s infrastructure can be improved? In a recent interview, Flavilla spoke to Matt, the Co-Founder and CEO of Jetstack, about the importance of establishing and maintaining an effective infrastructure within your company, and how it can enable your company to scale up and stand out within a competitive market.

Matt’s tech journey

Matt Barker is the Co-Founder and CEO of Jetstack. Matt’s dream has always been to start up his own business. He wanted to do so without taking any funding so that he is able to experience what making real profit feels like. Having no money from the get-go meant that Matt and his business partner had to come up with a way of generating some to kick start their company. They decided the best way to do so would be through education. They built a couple of training courses, and Matt spent all day everyday convincing people to join them. 

The biggest mistake people are making

When it comes to infrastructure, companies are not thinking about the future problems they may face when creating it. Think of it like building a house, you start with the foundations and work your way up. A lot of businesses make the mistake of not getting the infrastructure of their tech company right in order to optimise their brand. There seems to be a lack of awareness on the subject. They need to be asking themselves questions such as; “Will it scale properly?”, “Is it going to be secure?”, “Are we going to need to migrate data from one environment to another?”, and so on. There are plenty of companies out there that are struggling with their infrastructure. However, with a new ecosystem that is built on Kubernetes and containers, comes new opportunities to refresh the difficult infrastructure they might be looking to overcome.

All about Jetstack 

Jetstack have taken the cloud infrastructure world by storm. Their project cert-manager became one of the biggest successes in the cloud native ecosystem. Jetstack was created to help companies gain value for the cluster manager communities. 

During the 90’s, building infrastructure for your company was a difficult task due to having to invest your time and money into doing the process yourself. Whereas nowadays, it is much simpler and faster to build a business as you can do so via the public cloud such as website builders. The problem usually comes when your business begins to scale and is becoming more successful. The question about how to manage and make your developers productive when you are running at such a large scale arises. Well, Google found a way to solve this and built an internal platform called ‘Borg’. In 2014, Google open sourced a version of this platform, enabling the creation of Jetstack.

Why is it important as a tech company to work with them?

Businesses that benefit most from using companies like Jetstack are tech focused companies and online businesses with very strong engineers. At least, these were the companies most interested in Jetstack when they first started their company. Earlier clients include Monzo bank, Compare the Market and Babylon Health. Jetstack are now finding that larger enterprises are coming to them for help. They started to realise that if they don’t, they will become outrun by their faster moving competition. 

Those large companies were heavily invested in looking to make changes to their infrastructure and development practices in order to create more effective ways of bringing their products and services to the market. By doing so, you could get your offerings out into the market quicker and potentially beat your competitors. If you could scale quicker, you could make more money quicker

On the other hand, there are times when the infrastructure may be too complicated for smaller businesses. This may just create more work and difficulties for them. However, many of the cloud vendors, such as Amazon and Google, made it easier to implement the software by running Kubernetes as a service. The goal is to reach a point where the infrastructure is almost invisible and therefore the company can focus on creating the product itself.

What we can learn from companies who have successfully implemented an effective infrastructure?

A lot of these companies have come to a realisation. In order to remain competitive within the market, they had to have the best engineers that are working as productively as possible. Previously, IT was almost seen as a financial function and not too much thought was given to it. However, nowadays a large proportion of businesses are online and put technology first. The most successful businesses are making their developers more productive so that they can work quicker. As a result, this enables them to scale up faster, and beat their rivals. The top companies are going that extra mile and are looking to do this in a safe and secure way. They are able to do so by using the software that Jetstack is helping them implement. 


How to see if your company would benefit from implementing this infrastructure

The most common time in a company’s lifecycle in which Jetstack is reached out to by companies in need is at their breaking point. These breaking points range from websites going down resulting in a loss of income for a certain period of time, to major losses of data. This indicates how important getting your infrastructure right really is.

To see if your company could do with an infrastructure refresh, look for a consultant (or someone who knows the field well), or CNCF partners such as Kubernetes companies, to carry out a review of your company infrastructure and provide a third party perspective. If your company does not use Kubernetes, then you could contact Matt himself!

In order to maintain a good infrastructure within your company, Matt recommends ideally including it within your day to day practices. Chaos testing is a practice being used which involves switching infrastructure and turning it back on again. This tests to see if anything would go wrong and to highlight any potential issues. Jetstack has come up with testing scenarios. They take a company’s infrastructure and break it in certain ways in order to train the engineers how to respond to those issues.


Advice from Matt

Putting your head down and working hard on the customer can help you grow, but in this day and age, it will only get you so far. Taking advantage of your voice and excelling at marketing gives you the tools you need to go even further with ease.  This is because you become a lot more visible and it gets everyone talking about you. 


About the speaker

Matt Barker is co-founder and President of Jetstack. It was founded to help companies gain value from the cluster manager Kubernetes. Open sourced by Google in 2014, Kubernetes has taken the cloud infrastructure world by storm, quickly becoming ‘one of the biggest success stories in open source history’ (opensource.com).

Recently acquired by Venafi, Jetstack are the creators and maintainers of cert-manager. It has grown to become the standard way to secure machine identities in Kubernetes. It is downloaded more than a million times a day.

Prior to Jetstack, Matt was an early employee of Canonical, the company behind the world’s most popular cloud linux distro Ubuntu. He was also an early employee of MongoDB, the Nasdaq-listed open source NoSQL database which went public in 2017.


Contact Matt via email: hello@jetstack.io or LinkedIn

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