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Mission Modernizes Field Nation’s Container Environments With AWS EKS And Infrastructure-As-Code

Executive Summary

As an early adopter of containers and Kubernetes on AWS, the company’s site reliability engineering (SRE) team was still using first-generation tooling that required high-effort customization. The company wanted to pivot to AWS EKS to remove that complexity. Partnering with Mission enabled Field Nation to achieve this goal, while saving on costs and allowing its internal team to remain focused on business-critical initiatives. Mission provided a Terraform infrastructure-as-code template enabling repeatable, as-needed EKS cluster provisioning to support Field Nation’s platform. This reproducible infrastructure aligned with the company’s goal of adopting declarative GitOps practices. Mission then provided multiple knowledge transfer training sessions to ensure the Field Nation team would have the acumen and confidence necessary in operating this new infrastructure going forward. Following the success of the project, Field Nation is now utilizing Mission Cloud Foundation to ensure ongoing cost optimization and alignment with AWS best practices.

“With Mission, we found a true partner. Mission’s team did an excellent job of coaching us to ensure our project’s success at all levels, from understanding details at the code level to bringing expertise about the specific AWS tools and services that would support our larger goals. Any company considering working with Mission should absolutely do it.”

Josh Kapellen
Lead Site Reliability Engineer

The Challenge

Field Nation had been on AWS for several years, with its SRE team building a strategy around cloud services, APIs, and a declarative approach. It was quick to understand and leverage the advantages of containers, running them on EC2 instances. The company was also then an early adopter of Kubernetes to orchestrate its container environment, using kops tooling to build Kubernetes clusters in AWS since Kubernetes 1.08. However, over time Field Nation faced a growing challenge as it was still using the first-generation orchestration tool to build and manage its Kubernetes clusters as its environments scaled. This incumbent method required complex customizations and intensive effort from the SRE team to add, alter, or update clusters. 

Field Nation recognized the opportunity to eliminate these challenges and tap into the benefits of Kubernetes-as-a-Service with AWS EKS. The company also weighed the time and effort required for the internal team to learn to implement EKS, versus the advantages of tapping a partner with experienced cloud architects to build the first iteration of the solution. Ultimately, Field Nation opted for the expertise and project speed a partner could offer.

Why AWS?

Field Nation initially selected AWS both as the largest and most established cloud provider, and for its strategy of prioritizing support for API-driven interfaces. The APIs that AWS offers for each of its services enable Field Nation to operate using its preferred declarative approach. 

“What I like about AWS is that so much of it is turnkey,” said Kapellen. “For example, if I need an Elasticsearch cluster, I can write a couple manifests, use Terraform, and have an Elasticsearch cluster ready. Elasticsearch lifecycle management events are then automated by dedicated AWS engineers, who are really good at it. With AWS, we can pay just for the amount we’re using, and get expert-level backend and implementation support. AWS lets us spend less time running services and more time developing software that take advantage of them. That’s a huge advantage.”

Why Mission?

Field Nation’s AWS representative recommended Mission as a partner that would be a direct fit for the use case, citing Mission’s deep expertise with EKS implementations. The representative also recommended the AWS JumpStart program to Field Nation, enabling the company to receive funding that would cover a significant portion of the EKS project’s costs. 

“Allowing our engineers to continue to support our developers and provide actual business differentiation was a huge value add, instead of paying for the cost of learning, and hitting impediments to get this greenfield development done, going with Mission as a partner short-circuited that process.”
Josh Kapellen
Lead Site Reliability Engineer

The Solution 

Mission facilitated Field Nation’s move to EKS. Using Terraform for infrastructure-as-code, Mission delivered a reusable template for provisioning all EKS cluster infrastructure required to run Field Nation’s marketplace platform from a compute perspective. With this Terraform module, Field Nation can now provision new EKS clusters across accounts quickly and repeatedly, and also immediately incorporate existing tooling to deploy services. Mission then led multiple knowledge transfer training sessions to ensure the company’s internal DevOps and cloud engineers were prepared with a complete understanding of the new code and infrastructure, and comfortable with operating that infrastructure in production.  

“With the Terraform template for our EKS clusters, Mission essentially handed us a digital cookie cutter that lets us push out a repeatable infrastructure pattern,” said Kapellen. “It offers entirely predictable results and allows us to bring a new set of fully-reliable infrastructure online quickly and pretty much effortlessly.”

Results and Benefits

The Mission-driven move to EKS has enabled Field Nation to increase the availability, reliability, and security of its deployments, while bringing security and lifecycle management under a single service umbrella. The move also achieved Field Nation’s long-term goals of establishing a simpler upgrade path for Kubernetes, enabling agile change management, and supporting ongoing adoption of declarative GitOps practices. Due to Mission’s knowledge transfer and training, Field Nation’s team is prepared to operate the solution with confidence going forward.

Field Nation estimated that it would have taken at least six months of work for an internal engineer to complete this project. In comparison, the company calculated that Mission’s cost (with AWS JumpStart support) came in at less than 25% the cost of a single engineer, while allowing Field Nation’s internal team to continue on existing projects without interruption. 

“This is one piece of a multi-part strategy for us to move to a completely declarative operational environment,” said Kapellen. “A goal for my team is that no Kubernetes cluster should persist for more than six months. Regularly transitioning to new clusters allows us to upgrade versions and stay current much more easily, while continuously refreshing our business continuity capabilities. Mission has put us in position to do just that.”

Next Steps

Field Nation next plans to move its development environments to EKS as enabled by Mission, completing the transition later this year. Immediately following completion of Mission’s work on the EKS engagement, Field Nation enlisted Mission to leverage Mission Cloud Foundation, which delivers ongoing AWS cost optimization aligned with best practices and governance procedures. “Seeing a demonstration of Mission Cloud Foundation’s extreme visibility into our AWS architecture and spending was an exciting moment of surprise and delight,” said Kapellen. “There's a ton of opportunity for us.”

AWS Services
  • EKS
  • EC2
  • VPCs
Third-Party Integrations
  • Terraform (infrastructure-as-code)