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HashiCorp: Strength In Numbers

How the Hashistack’s Modularity Is Its Greatest Asset

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the devops space, you’ve probably seen the name HashiCorp come up. Maybe you needed something for service discovery and found Consul. Maybe you were sick of fighting with CloudFormation and gave Terraform a try. Maybe someone finally convinced you to stop storing your secrets in plaintext and Vault jumped to the top of your search results.

What you may not have realized is that these individual solutions form a larger suite, sometimes referred to as the “Hashistack”. Together, they form a full platform for managing your data center and operating your services. All of these have free, open source versions, and four of them (Terraform, Consul, Vault, and Nomad) have enterprise versions with enhanced features. But the fact that these services work so well separately is actually one of the largest strengths of the HashiCorp suite.

À La Carte Adoption

The first major advantage of the Hashistack’s modularity is that you can use exactly as much of the suite as you need to. If you only need a service discovery tool you can just use Consul. There’s no need to add anything else to your stack. This helps make your infrastructure just as powerful as you need it to be without adding unnecessary operational complexity.

“Plays Well With Others”

Another advantage of modularity is that it helps ensure that HashiCorp services play nicely with other services. Vault does not force you to use Consul as its storage backend. Instead, you are free to use a variety of storage backends, including etcd, DynamoDB, or Google Cloud Storage.

Similarly, Terraform does not have to own your infrastructure to be useful. Instead, you can tell it how to scan relevant pieces of infrastructure to get the information it needs, allowing you to benefit from infrastructure-as-code without needing to reimplement all your existing infrastructure. It also supports many different services, or “providers”, so it can manage just about any piece of infrastructure you might have in your stack.

Baby Steps

Finally, let’s talk about how modularity helps with incremental modernization.

Modern devops practices are radically different from traditional operations. Leaping from bare metal servers straight to automated, containerized deployments can cause institutional whiplash. Adopting new practices incrementally can give your organization a chance to get comfortable with each new technique.

HashiCorp’s focus on modularity helps support this. You can bring in the services one at a time, prioritized by your individual project’s needs, and mature your usage of them before introducing another. This way you can start getting the benefits of a modernized infrastructure without introducing too many change into your organization too quickly.

Strength in Numbers

There are many reasons we at Pandera Labs like the HashiCorp suite. It’s developer-friendly, bringing operations and delivery closer together. The services are all extremely easy to deploy, generally consisting of just a single binary. They’re converging on a single, expressive configuration language (HCL) for all of their services, which makes moving between them easier.

But really, the modularity of their ecosystem is their greatest strength. You can start by solving exactly the problem at hand, without bringing in unnecessary complexity. At the same time, it gives you a clear avenue for continued growth and modernization, eventually graduating to an extremely powerful, cohesive platform.

For more information about HashiCorp’s philosophy, check out their article “The Tao of HashiCorp”. And if you’d like to hear more from us on a specific HashiCorp service, let us know!


Original post from Pandera Labs. At Pandera Labs, we’re always exploring new ways to build products and iterate on our engineering processes, and we value sharing our findings with the broader community as our company and our technology evolve together. To reach out directly about the topic of this article or to discuss our offerings, visit us at panderalabs.com.

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