Author: Andrin Farner, Consultant
Digital transformation is Inacta AG’s main focus – since it was founded, Inacta has been involved in the dynamic, innovation-driven digital environment. However, in order to keep pace with fast moving developments, infrastructure always needs to be up to date and to function reliably. Inacta encountered a problem with this in 2017 when it was growing rapidly – at which point the necessary scaling was only just achieved. At that time the Docker Compose platform which was being used reached its limits and a new Kubernetes management platform was needed.
In 2018 other platforms such as Docker Swarm and OpenShift were tested but they were also found to be inadequate in terms of container orchestration. They did not offer the essential rapid scalability and high degree of flexibility needed for any combination of technologies.
Then in April 2019 Inacta focused on using the Kubernetes management platform Rancher, which is compatible with SUSE. SUSE is a German-based multinational open source software company. This focus on Rancher was because of its ease of use, scalability and the increased efficiency it could achieve. Rancher’s open source ethos is also an excellent fit with Inacta’s open approach.
Using Rancher, Inacta has been able to provide a customised approach for developers, which means that the developers only have access to what they require. Because of Rancher’s built-in templates, the developer team described this feature as an 'easy and enjoyable experience’. As a result developers can now spend more time with clients and more time innovating.
At first, Inacta ported some of its older applications to Rancher as it wanted to test how the process worked. Shortly after, it decided to put containers – and thus Rancher – at the heart of its innovation driven expansion. Innovative products like Tokengate and KYCgate were moved to Rancher along with some new innovations from the fast developing crypto space.
Increasing operational efficiency
Inacta's infrastructure team – DevOps Adrian Lüthi, DevOps István Szimhár and consultant Andrin Farner, led by Michael Koller – sees the digitalisation wave as an ideal opportunity to support clients with innovative technology solutions that promote technical agility and resilience. In terms of containers, Inacta has been able to improve the efficiency of its operations. Previously, when the team wanted to work on a new project, they had to deploy a new virtual machine setup, and also configure it and make sure everything was running correctly. This took up a lot of the development team's time and took valuable hours that could have been used for innovation and creating new products. With the new solution, this work could be handed over to Rancher.
There are substantial time savings. Developers prepare their own script and manage the basic processes manually. In Rancher, many of these processes (role-based access control RBAC, monitoring and access to the application catalogue, etc.) are automated. DevOps Adrian Lüthi comments: "Provisioning a new environment now only takes a few minutes, whereas it used to take a few hours at least. All the time that was spent on manual configuration and security is now no longer needed."
Inacta recently completed a migration to Azure AD. The integration with Rancher went without any incident. Thanks to the Azure plugin built into Rancher, Inacta was able to complete the entire integration and migrate the entire authentication process in a matter of minutes. This simple integration will be crucial in the future. DevOps István Szimhár comments: "We recently migrated to Azure AD, which was simplified by the built-in plug-in in Rancher. It only took a few minutes to set up the integration and migrate everything into our existing Azure architecture."
As an expanding company, Inacta has hired many new employees for the development team in recent months who are looking to quickly learn the company’s processes. Rancher also proved to be the best fit here – as developers can more easily access the things they need.
DevOps István Szimhár; "Using the built-in templates, it was easy to create a customized role in Rancher for our developers. Here they have exactly what they need in a customised environment that is easy to set up. We only had to make minor adjustments so we could get started straight away."
Increase cost efficiency
Using Rancher, Inacta has been able to reduce excess resources and significantly reduce costs. It estimates its cloud costs have dropped by at least a third, even though it now has access to far more functionality and scalability.
The benefits at a glance
80 per cent reduction in provisioning time - hours have become minutes, developers have more time to spend with customers and on innovative new features
Scaling requirements can be easily met
35 per cent lower cloud costs
35 per cent less administration
The Inacta team's next step is to bring Continuous Deployment to the Rancher platform. This will enable instant and autonomous deployment in a production environment. As a result, the DevOps team, which continues to grow, will be even more agile. This will be reported in the next case study.
* Briefly on terminology: Kubernetes is a container orchestration software. Kubernetes automates tasks that previously had to be done by system administrators, such as network configurations, upgrades or patches. By using Kubernetes software, Inacta can scale its infrastructure based on user requirements. In this way, computing resources can be scaled up and down easily and flexibly according to requirements.