Future-proof hosting infra? Meet our magnificent Silta!

Published: 24.2.2020
Author: Janne Koponen, Head of Technology
Categories: Technology
Reading time: 5 min
Graphic visualisation of a bridge

We are proud to introduce Silta, Wunder’s hosting infrastructure. Named after the Finnish word for Bridge, Silta connects existing projects with tomorrow’s best practices. To make Silta so special, we took our decade-long experience in hosting and combined it with a modern cloud-native approach that embraces microservices and DevOps.

Let’s start with what, for who, and the benefits of Silta.

Who is it for?

Silta is well suited for both traditional applications like Drupal as well as modern microservice-based architectures. It particularly shines in taking an existing setup and evolving it step by step, decoupling the user interface, splitting APIs into separate gateways, etc. And it does so in a controlled manner with quality and consistency throughout the journey.

Silta is the ideal platform for agile organizations whose websites and web applications are constantly evolving. Similarly to our existing hosting service, we primarily offer Silta in parallel to our software development services. However, we have also partnered with many organizations over the years, and if you have a team of web professionals that could benefit from our expertise, give us a call!

Why the change?

Doing a complete overhaul of our infrastructure was no small task, but it was a strategic decision to refine our offering around technology and architecture and to guarantee a future-proof service to our clients. These changes were driven by many conversations with clients, architectural discussions internally and within the open-source community, and of course following the best practices of our industry.

Over the past few years, we have experienced a major shift in the way software is built – at Wunder and in the industry in general. Web projects built on a single technology used to be the norm, and such projects were a perfect fit for running on a single server, only adding additional servers when scalability and high availability were a particular requirement.

An architecture composed of multiple microservices, each using its own technology to address particular requirements, has become much more common. Running this type of application on a single server would limit the benefit of having independent components with independent lifecycles. Our infrastructure takes advantage of a container-based setup that makes it easy to run each component independently while also keeping the door open for easily adding more technologies to our stack.

Web projects are in constant evolution

Change has always been present, but the pace is increasing. With our clients we have also started embracing change: Nobody expects a web project to stay as it is once launched. This means that we need an infrastructure that enables us to make changes more frequently and to do so while maintaining stability and quality. A dynamic, container-based architecture makes it possible to test all our changes, including replacing major infrastructural components of a project, which then allows us to make bold decisions with controlled risks.

Hosting infrastructure is not only a place for an application to be executed; it can also play a key role in the development workflow. We have built Silta with the productivity of our developers as a top priority, and the automation that is present throughout the system empowers our teams to deliver high-quality software in record times.

How do our clients benefit from Silta?

Clearly, we took this step to better serve our clients.

Silta is fully automated from the creation of a new environment to the running of production environments. This means that Silta does not only reduce the cost of starting a project and going live, but it also increases reliability with automation. By running all our projects on the same toolset, we are able to constantly improve our service at no additional cost to our clients.

All this automation is driven from a GitOps approach which maintains a strong consistency between version control and deployed environments. This means that any alterations to the system, whether at the application or infrastructure level, are driven by code modifications that are intentional, documented and auditable. Silta is also a great platform for integrating all kinds of code analysis tools, making quality assurance an integral part of the deployment process. This automation also works hand in hand with other services such as when testing automatic security updates in a dedicated environment.

One of the major advantages of working with a container-based infrastructure is the possibility to scale dynamically straight out of the box. We are able to automatically scale any production environment to take in peaks of traffic without any human intervention, but also to be very effective with resource usage and lower our energy footprint.

Silta <3 Kubernetes

By building Silta on top of Kubernetes, we are able to deploy to any environment that supports Kubernetes, including on-premise hardware and any of the major public cloud providers. After careful evaluation, we have decided to settle on Google Cloud as our default service. It provides incredibly high quality, competitive costs and the Finnish data center is perfectly located to serve our clients.

In Wunder tradition, Silta is built using a mixture of open-source tools and readily available hosted services. The code itself is available under an open-source license, and we have paid particular attention to making sure that each of the tools in our pipeline integrates cleanly and can be replaced when needed. This gives us the flexibility to easily work with various constraints and working with our client’s requirements and existing services.

Why hosting matters to Wunder

Many of our clients have particular requirements, and while there are many good hosting solutions out there, we found that too often they do not fit the complex needs that many of our clients have. We also noticed that the standard pricing models are often based on arbitrary metrics, which often introduces constraints that lead to poor technical decisions.

Last but not least, we have found that providing a high level of openness and transparency to our clients is not possible when building services on top of providers that don’t share the same values.

A solid, flexible and open infrastructure is required for us to build great software for our clients. This is why we have managed our own hosting in the past and continue to do so today – loud and proud with Silta.

Sounds interesting?

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