Magento Fleet Explainer

By January 20, 2015General

Over the past few months, we have been developing, tinkering and perfecting a brand new platform that will completely change the way you approach managing a website – Fleet. But what is Fleet? How does it work? We’ve asked Miriam Margolyes to help us explain it. Here’s a sneak peak at the script – stay tuned for the full, animated video! fleet_transparent

The problem for many online retailers is that web hosting has become far too complicated.

It’s easy to see why. If your website goes down, sales go down with it, as well as your brand’s reputation.

So, most big websites take a ‘belts and braces’ approach by adding extra everything — just in case.

But all of these bits and bobs and extra everythings cost extra money — and get in the way of your real work. 

To make even a small improvement to your website may involve a lengthy and expensive process, navigating a complex mix of staging servers and databases and load balancers. 

And if just one of those steps is out of synch, the results can still sink your website. 

That’s why the team at Anchor created Fleet, to make web development quick and easy again for even the biggest online retailer. 

Fleet isn’t just a fancy name slapped on the same old hosting ideas and technologies you’re already using. 

Fleet is a whole new way of thinking about web hosting that will completely change how you work with your website. 

This is how it works. 

Each hosting environment in Fleet is based on a blueprint, specially designed and optimised by Anchor to fit your specific app or website. 

For example, let’s say your website is powered by Magento — which would be a happy coincidence as Magento happens to be the very first blueprint Anchor has made available. 

With this blueprint, you can launch complete, automated hosting environments in seconds, each one a perfect fit for your Magento website. 

And once a Fleet environment is live, it cannot be tweaked or changed. Not even the Magento code. If nothing can change, nothing can break either. 

This is something called Immutable Infrastructure — because those IT types love using long words to sound clever. 

So, if nothing can change, how do you update the code? And how do you do it with zero downtime? 

Well, Fleet uses another idea with an equally silly name — Blue-Green Deployments. 

Your Magento code is managed in something called “GitHub”. This is linked to Fleet by an “automated code deployment pipeline”. 

Seriously, it’s like another language with these people. Thankfully, it’s all a lot simpler than it sounds. 

Let’s say you already have your Magento website live in Fleet. 

We’ll call this environment Blue. 

If you want to test a new feature, just mark the updated code in GitHub as ‘ready for release’. 

When you’re ready, Fleet grabs the new release and combines it with the Magento blueprint. Fleet then builds a clean new environment with the updated code already baked in. 

Let’s call this new version Green. 

Once the updated code is checked and approved, push it live by switching between the Blue and Green versions, just like changing TV channels. Easy. 

Then you can just as quickly destroy the old Blue version so it doesn’t continue costing you money. 

The entire process is so quick and easy that you can update the website safely, as often as you like, even many times a day. 

If there’s a problem with the website code after its gone live, just spin up a replica environment to work on. That way, you’re not fiddling about with the live environment while you work out what went wrong. 

You can even run multiple environments, testing different code releases simultaneously. 

Maintenance is easier too. Fleet automatically takes care of sick servers by simply killing them off and creating healthy new ones from the blueprint. No sentimentality here. This is survival of the fittest! Kill the weak! 

And if your website is hit by a sudden tidal wave of customers, Fleet auto-magically adds more servers to keep everything above water. Once the wave has passed, it wipes them out again to save you money. 

Fleet prevents over-complicated web hosting from restricting your plans. Your online business can grow faster and work smarter than ever before. 

So climb aboard your own hosting Fleet, fully supported by Anchor.

4 Comments

  • Jase Clamp says:

    This sounds great. Is fleet and blueprints based on an already known technology like ansible?
    And you use this to manage AWS?

    • Jase,

      Fleet is built on top of a wide variety of automations. The blueprints represent a static definition of the application environment structure and configuration. We utilise the blueprint and some bespoke automation that we’ve written internally to instantiate the infrastructure both reliably and repeatably.

      We currently utilise Puppet and Packer for the actual generation of the build artefact (the release), though this has the potential to change. The specific implementation is less relevant than the concept backing it. We work with static artefacts so that developers can be confident their application will /just work/ when it gets to production.

  • Rex says:

    In regards to promoting test code to a “green” test server, are there any requirements beyond having a Git repository? Does Anchor Fleet integrate with other Git tools like Bitbucket?

    • Minh Do says:

      Hey Rex,

      No – there are no other requirements. It’s great that you bring up Bitbucket, because Fleet is fully compatible with it! Additionally, we’re currently in the final phases of Stash compatibility too.

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