The First Order Chooses Scalr to Modernize Galaxy’s IT Processes

April 1, 2018 Ron Harnik

About The First Order

The First Order is a political and military faction that came into existence as a result of the fall of the Galactic Empire. The First Order seeks to return civilization to the stability it once knew under The Empire – stability which was reduced to anarchy by The Rebellion and the so-called republic. The First Order aims to rebuild on the strengths of The Empire and succeed where it has failed.

The Challenge

The Galactic Empire was known for its bureaucracy and lengthy, manual approval processes. According to Kelskel Pativena, who started her career as a Datacenter Engineer on the first Death Star, provisioning was bogged down by layers of approvals and policy checks. “The process was in place for a reason, of course” says Kelskel, “but it was painfully slow. Even then application teams were asking for self-service, they wanted to be more productive, but we had to make sure everything was compliant with imperial policies”.  Kelskel also added that a developer was once force-choked for bypassing IT and going directly to one of the galactic cloud providers. Imperial IT could not allow “Rouge IT”, for obvious reasons.

As former members of the Imperial Military and their sympathizers designed the First Order, they wanted to make sure they built an IT infrastructure that gives end-users the autonomy and flexibility they need, without compromising on cost, security, and compliance. The First Order was looking for a way to build a galactically accessible infrastructure that empowers users with self-service across multiple platforms, while always maintaining best practices and policies. Kelskel Pativena, now Head of Galactic IT for the First Order, was tasked with finding the tools required for this undertaking.

The Solution

After evaluating countless platforms and strategies during the construction of Starkiller Base, First Order IT eventually decided to leverage the Scalr Hybrid Cloud Management Platform as a key component of its Hybrid Cloud strategy. The First Order’s Hybrid Cloud initiative spans multiple public and private cloud platforms, with users across dozens of planets. Scalr’s unique Organizational Model was crucial to allowing First Order IT to operate at scale. “Back in the day, The Empire consolidated most of its Datacenters on the Death Star, and then again on the second Death Star. Our plans for High Availability quickly went up in flames, so to speak” says Aramis Marogon, a DevOps lead on Pativena’s team, adding that this time around, they relied more heavily on public clouds, since doing the exact same thing a third time in a row would be absolutely ridiculous.

Galactic Governance

Compliance was a key issue for the First Order, as an organization that operates in numerous territories and encompasses almost every industry, from manufacturing to healthcare and financial services. Unlike a certain rebellious group which feels that no laws apply to it, the First Order upholds the strictest standards of quality and security. First Order IT uses Scalr’s robust policy engine to create fine-grained policy profiles that govern the usage of networks, storage volumes, security groups, and more.

“With Scalr, we know that every provisioned resource is properly tagged and secured. Having policies that can adapt to stuff like OS types and locations, and detailed audit logs really made passing compliance audits easier” says Marogon, adding that every time they had a breach or failed an audit, some admiral would go nuts and destroy expensive hardware, due to a bad example set by supreme leader Kylo Ren.

Self-Service

From engineers to support representatives, First Order IT provides services to a wide variety of end-users. Pativena wanted to make sure every type of user is made productive with a custom self-service experience, including DevOps engineers who required access to native APIs. Using Scalr’s advanced access policies, First Order IT built Cloud environments that present each user with the resources they need, as determined by their identity and permissions. Users with basic provisioning needs get a simple service catalog, where all the policy enforcement and automation is done behind the scenes, while advanced users get a power console or API access, and more operational flexibility, in either case – workload placement, cost and security policies are transparently enforced.

Automation & Disaster Recovery

Basing their strategy on past experience, the First Order IT team wanted to prepare for failure. “We did end up having a significant Datacenter footprint on Starkiller base. I guess the brass was feeling pretty confident” says Marogon. The IT used Scalr’s Orchestration Engine when designing application templates to ensure that workloads can fail-over to the public cloud in case that the Datacenter literally exploded.

Marogon and his team accomplished this by using event-based automation triggers, auto-scaling and other policies on every application template. “Scalr has a handy policy that makes sure servers are always placed in different Availability Zones. That sure came in handy when we found out that one of our public cloud provider’s datacenters was actually on Hosnian Prime, which we totally annihilated with Starkiller Base, oops!”.

The careful planning of the First Order IT team and their use of Scalr to build a Cloud Native architecture paid off in full when Starkiller Base was eventually destroyed by rebel scum. “Can’t say we didn’t see it coming”, said everyone.

Cost Control

While the First Order is a vast organization, it is not nearly as well funded as The Empire once was. Cost Control and careful budgeting was a key factor in Pativena’s Hybrid Cloud strategy. First Order IT makes full use of Scalr’s financial policies to drive accountability and reduce costs across the various businesses and departments that make up the First Order. Scalr’s Organizational Model allows the First Order to map their Cloud Management Platform to their own organizational hierarchy. This way, all reporting and enforcement follows a structure that makes sense for the First Order.

“The reclamation policy alone reduced our spend significantly” said Pativena, referring to a Scalr policy that assigns a lifetime to all applications in a certain Environment, preventing runaway spend. First Order IT also leverages Scalr’s extensive financial reporting to keep track of Cloud spend across the different platforms and locations.

Wrapping up

The First Order IT team understand that the challenges of a Hybrid Cloud infrastructure can’t be solved in an isolated approach. Cost, security, compliance, and productivity are all impacted by one another. With Scalr, they have built a system that delegates autonomy to teams and departments and allows them to operate quickly on the cloud, while always inheriting the relevant policies from the central IT team. We here at Scalr are excited to keep working with the First Order as they crush the rebellion and restore order to the galaxy!

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