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Security, Stability & Scalability with Coder

author avatar
Tim Quinlan
 on May 23rd, 2024
6 min read

In the rapidly evolving digital landscape, large enterprises and government entities face the daunting challenge of balancing technological innovation with the imperative of information security and platform stability. Self-hosted, self-maintained Cloud Development Environments (CDE) such as Coder have emerged as a crucial solution to these challenges, offering a myriad of significant benefits for regulated and large-scale organizations with stringent security requirements. This blog post will explore the multifaceted importance of self-hosted, self-maintained CDEs and address specific points that underscore their critical role in:

  • Maintaining robust security protocols
  • Maintaining operational stability
  • Significantly enhancing developer experience and productivity

Enhanced Developer Experience + Autonomy and Flexibility

A foundational benefit of any CDE is the enhanced developer experience. They enable developers to focus on innovation rather than grappling with compatibility or access issues, thereby accelerating development cycles and improving software quality. The Coder ethos of self-hosted, self-managed platforms allows large organizations to deploy a CDE in a manner that conforms to their existing security and operational practices.

Next-generation CDE solutions like Coder are managed using common infrastructure as code tools already found across most organizations. This significantly reduces traditional day two management overhead and provides levels of autonomy and flexibility that are unparalleled. Organizations can configure their platforms exactly as needed without being constrained by the limitations of one-size-fits-most solutions or third-party providers. This seamless integration with existing infrastructure allows for a tailored approach that aligns perfectly with the organization’s specific operational, security, and business requirements, thereby enhancing efficiency and effectiveness.

Security + Stability

For environments where security is paramount – such as in government, healthcare, insurance, and financial verticals – self-hosted, self-managed software simplifies the process of meeting rigorous certification standards. The infrastructure necessary to comply with stringent regulations—encompassing personnel practices, physical security, networking, data storage and retention, hardware requirements, etc —is already in place. Adding an application on top of a certified infrastructure means that the most scrutinized aspects of security are inherently addressed, thereby reducing complexity and ensuring compliance.

The ability to operate 100% offline, air-gapped data centers is crucial in sectors where data sovereignty is paramount, such as government and fintech. Coder allows organizations to completely isolate their CDEs from external networks, which is the best way to reduce the attack surface for cyber threats and ensure the integrity and confidentiality of sensitive information. While a self-hosted, vendor-managed setup might offer a balance between self-management and an outsourced service, it introduces additional layers of complexity, particularly in the certification of new components. Organizations must rigorously evaluate the vendor’s practices, including staffing and data handling, in addition to physical and information security measures. Each new layer requires thorough vetting, adding to the governance burden.

Self-hosted, self-maintained platforms offer enhanced stability as well as security, as organizations have complete control over which patches and updates are applied, and when. This control allows for rigorous testing before deployment, ensuring compatibility, security, and reducing the risk of introducing vulnerabilities through unvetted updates. Complete control over production versioning and upgrades is essential in large enterprises, where even minor disruptions can have major repercussions. This control allows organizations to plan and execute updates in a strategic manner, ensuring system stability and continuous service availability.

The Golden Path at Scale

Constantly refining infrastructure is crucial to swiftly respond to technological advances and business opportunities. Running a CDE as an application on an existing infrastructure allows for rapid deployment and inherent flexibility, which enables organizations to build their own Golden Path for developers. This enables organizations to implement new services and applications quickly, maintaining a competitive edge and adapting to market changes efficiently.

Auto scaling and load testing are essential for optimizing resource usage and reducing costs in large deployments. Coder uses Terraform to provide the fine-grained tunables that large enterprises require for precise resource management at scale. Similarly, integration with most Identity Providers and compatibility with industry-standard monitoring software reduces complexity as well as enhances the security and stability of the system. These features ensure that resources are allocated efficiently based on actual demand, avoiding over-provisioning and wasteful expenditure.

Dedicated Platform Engineering teams are increasingly common in mature organizations. This specialization ensures that platforms are managed by experts, freeing developers to focus on their core tasks without maintaining their development environments. Coder leverages open standards and integrates seamlessly with an organization's existing tools and processes. It supports a wide range of infrastructure options including bare metal, Kubernetes, Docker and VMs, allowing enterprises to utilize their preferred technologies. This integration reduces complexity and enables platform teams to maintain control over their development ecosystem. An experienced Platform Engineer could deploy Coder in an existing cluster in a few minutes.

Self-hosted, self-maintained CDEs offer a comprehensive solution for large enterprises, regulated industries and government entities, providing control over their digital infrastructure while adhering to strict security standards. This approach not only ensures operational efficiency and security but also empowers organizations to innovate. The benefits range from enhanced developer experience and operational flexibility to simplified compliance and enhanced security. Although the initial overhead is higher than SaaS, the long-term benefits of stability, security, and scalability justify the effort, making Coder a strategic asset in the digital era.

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