Envoy and the “Programmable Edge”: The Changing Role of Edge Proxies and Developer Experience
At the inaugural EnvoyCon, which ran alongside KubeCon in Seattle last December, several large organisations discussed how they have recently begun using Envoy as an edge proxy, such as eBay, Pinterest and Groupon. Moving away from hardware-based load balancers and other edge appliances towards the software-based “programmable edge” provided by Envoy clearly has many benefits, particularly in regard to dynamism and automation. However, one of the core challenges presented was the need to create an effective control plane that integrates well with the existing engineering workflow or developer experience.
This article explore this challenge in more depth. In a previous TheNewStack article, “Kubernetes and PaaS: The Force of Developer Experience and Workflow”, I summarised some of the recent conversations had within the Datawire team and their community and customers, and argued for the need for engineering organisations to pay more attention to creating an effective engineering workflow—often referred to as “developer experience”—rather than simply building a platform on Kubernetes, and letting that dictate the workflow. There is currently lots of interesting tooling evolving within the space, such as Garden, Tilt, and Skaffold (just to mention a few), and I’ll hopefully focus on these in a future article.
However, for the main thrust of this piece, I want to focus on how having programmatic edge impacts developer experience.