From Kettle of Fish to Stone Soup: Stackato Makes a Difference
by Kevin "kj" Woolley

Kevin "kj" Woolley, January 18, 2013

A few weeks ago, I set up a Stackato instance to support several internal ActiveState applications. As a sysadmin, I wasn’t deeply familiar with the dependencies and inner workings of these various applications. I deployed the initial Stackato cluster, contacted the ActiveState developers who had authored these apps, and asked them to push the apps themselves on the Stackato cluster I had just created. It only took four hours to set up the Stackato cluster and push the four applications we needed.

The whole process was easy pie, but actually made me think of soup. It reminded me of Stone Soup, an old folk story I read when I was a teenager.

In this tale, two hungry travelers carrying an empty cooking pot arrive in a village. They fill the pot with water, drop a large stone in it, and place the pot over a fire. The pot sparks the villagers’ curiosity. The travellers say they are making a delicious stone soup, and that although it already has amazing taste, the soup could use a few more ingredients to make it even better. One by one, the villagers start contributing various ingredients to the soup, carrots, potatoes, beans, onions, seasoning, and more. In the end, the whole village enjoys a nourishing and flavorful pot of soup. The tale is an example of people working together to achieve a better outcome for the benefit of the entire community.

In a pre-Stackato world, deploying web applications was a hot potato. Installing apps on a typical web server meant chasing down dependencies and bugs, and frequently running after the people who had developed the apps to ask questions. This is a very inefficient, time-consuming model.

With Stackato, all I have to do is to bring the pot and add the PaaS magic stone. As the first ingredient, Stackato becomes a magnet and motivates developers to separately add their knowledge to the pot. Devs have the confidence to push and maintain their applications as needed while ops like myself remain in control of the Stackato platform. At the end of the day, the amount of work required from each individual is minimal, and the result is highly improved.

With Stackato as the stone, too many cooks can’t spoil the broth.

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kj is ActiveState’s Systems Administrator. He was born in London, Ontario, grew up in North Vancouver, and spent several years in the Northwest Territories doing technical sales. As a technical infrastructure specialist, he brings over twenty years of systems administration experience to ActiveState.