Published 2022-06-06

DeARX discovers its Kubernetes superpowers with Spectro Cloud Palette

Solution Architect

About DeARX - We are software technologists who love building solutions for our customers. Since 2001, we’ve provided IT resourcing, app development, integration and business process management from our base in South Africa. Find out more at https://www.dearx.co.za/

Business evolution from integration services to K8s platforms

At DeARX we serve enterprise companies like banks, insurers, retailers and healthcare providers across South Africa and beyond. These businesses typically do high-volume digital transactions for consumers, and where we thrive is in helping them interconnect multiple services via APIs.

The core technology we use is the WSO2 integration platform, which is a very rich suite of products for API management and IAM, that grew out of the world of middleware and enterprise service bus. It’s highly specialized work, and through our managed services we’re the glue that pulls everything together for our customers to make their businesses thrive.

We design, build, implement and support the WSO2 platform in its entirety, and that includes the underlying infrastructure. After all, we need to make sure we can meet our SLAs.

In the past, we usually advised our customers about infrastructure, for example how to architect the virtual machines in their data centers. But the line between applications and infrastructure is growing blurred, thanks to cloud, infrastructure as code, and containers. Today most of our customers are moving towards using containers for their production environments, orchestrated by Kubernetes. It’s a huge industry shift and the African market we play in is right on the cutting edge of adoption.

Going equipped for the K8s journey

Naturally customers on this journey to containerization are turning to us as their trusted partner and asking, “do you know Kubernetes?”. And of course, we answer, like Neo in the Matrix, “We know Kubernetes.”

Today we play an integral position within our clients’ infrastructure platform delivery teams. Ultimately, we’re responsible for their Kubernetes journey. And we’ve chosen Spectro Cloud Palette as our go-to platform to deliver Kubernetes to our customers from day 0 to day 2 and beyond.

We compared Palette to other solutions, like Rancher, and nothing came close. It’s one thing building a cluster, but quite another managing multiple production clusters on an ongoing basis. That’s where Palette excels.

From a technical standpoint, it’s been a true privilege to be able to log into Palette and have so much… power, and fun too. It’s comprehensive, very intuitive, and the documentation is spot on. I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of what it can do, but I’m excited to dive deeper.

Helping experts be more effective, every day

What we value most about Palette is that it fits perfectly with our values and operating model. We’re a people business — we started out as an IT resourcing company. And the key to our success over the years has been a triangle of talent, teams and technology in collaboration with our customers.

It starts with the quality of the people; we definitely want to hire ‘A’ players, and we’re award-winning in that regard. We’re very conscious about who we bring into the team and how we enable them to work together.

Palette enables these teams of smart technologists to be much more effective — and in fact that applies both to our engineers here at DeARX, and our counterparts in the businesses that we serve.

What Palette does is deliver a known, reliable, repeatable Kubernetes deployment pattern every single time. It means that any of our engineers can deploy a Kubernetes cluster profile for a customer and be sure of the outcome. I can’t overstate how important that is.

Palette makes every engineer your star engineer

The usual approach for IT services companies is to bring out the heavy-hitters during the pre-sales process to wow the customer, and you never see them again during the project or when it comes to support.

We’ve never done it that way: our top architects will do pre-sales and will be the project lead all the way through to completion. But even we can’t afford to have our top architects hanging around during routine Day 2 operations.

And the customer suffers the exact same problem internally. The client-side DevOps team that ends up running Day 2 are not the same guys that were architecting the solution a year earlier. Palette offers such strong Day 2 operations capabilities that it solves this skills problem, enabling every engineer to feel confident managing the Kubernetes lifecycle.

Another all-nighter?

Let me give you an example. Before we started using Palette in earnest, we were notified of a security vulnerability issue with WSO2 that needed patching. All of us at DeARX knuckled down and worked through from Saturday night through to 7.30am Sunday morning patching the issue for all our customers — we had to hand-crank every single server.

I then learned that Spectro Cloud had tackled the same problem for its customers across hundreds of clusters with zero downtime, automatically, in about four hours.

Their best engineer only had to solve the problem once by building the patched version into a Cluster Profile, then Palette could roll it out repeatably and verify that all the clusters were in the correct, updated state. So Spectro Cloud has convinced us. It’s become our go-to deployment pattern because of how much better our Day 2 operations become, both for us and our customers.

Committed to the future together

Recently we had one customer approach us about WSO2 managed services. They specified that OpenShift would be part of the infrastructure that we were going to be managing for them, for a five-year term. We responded that if they wanted to consume a WSO2 solution from DeARX on Kubernetes, it is Spectro Cloud or nothing. We believe in the platform that strongly. Internally we now say that Palette is part of our “dress code.” In a sense, it’s a condition of entry.

We’re so passionate about our growth into the platform space around Kubernetes. It’s the next chapter of the DeARX story, where we can make a real difference for our customers. And we couldn’t imagine a better partner to have with us on the journey than Spectro Cloud.

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