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Beware of one-click, fuss-free application stacks

Paul Venezia | Feb. 22, 2016
Prebuilt stacks offer a handy shortcut, but sometimes the shortcut leads to a longer journey

When all is said and done, it's entirely possible that standing up the "ready to roll" prebuilt stack took more time than a baseline build, and you've had to make so many concessions to the stack boundaries along the way that the result is a one-off installation that doesn't mirror the local development environment at all. Worse, you've had to rework the stack build so much that it's become an impediment. The prebuilt stack that looked so inviting has in fact required exponentially more work in both the short and long term.

This is clearly a devil's advocate scenario, but it's common enough. Prebuilt stacks are designed for the common denominator or for temporary usage or to get a greenfield infrastructure going very quickly to facilitate rapid development. For those purposes, they are excellent choices. For others, they're definitely not, and it's better to understand that before you burn hours and hours, only to realize you need to start all over because the list of integration issues with the prebuilt stack is overwhelming.

As with the CLI example, if your needs are simple, so is the solution. If your needs are complex, most likely, so is the solution -- you're better off building it yourself.

Which leads to custom stack templates: Custom stacks, which you can build with the likes of AWS CloudFormation and Azure Resource Manager templates, can be great resources for a much broader audience. The ability to spin up service and app cloud stacks, fully tiered, with a few clicks is pretty great -- if you have both the need for such rapid deployment, and the time to construct and maintain those configurations. Note that this isn't necessarily only server instances built from images, but the whole works, including prepopulated SQL database instances, load balancing, orchestration, you name it. When you don't need it anymore, tear it down.

Clearly, custom stack templates can be a huge timesaver in a development environment. We've been doing that for years with local virtualization, and it's equally as suitable to the cloud.

A wise man once coined the term TANSTAAFL: There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch. Beware those who would tell you otherwise.

Source: Infoworld 


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