Lessons from the cloud: it’s not fast: it’s wide

Starting to work w/ Azure. Go to create my first Kubernetes cluster. After 15 minutes of watching the slide dots in the web, I give up. I try the CLI, same deal. This must be just me right? Wrong.

This is a general observation about cloud tooling. Things are very slow because of all the API hand off and polling. Cloud scales horizontally (many small things working independently), not vertically. And those small things only scale if they don’t talk to each other or the central API (much). This is called Amdahl’s Law. Think more glacier flow than avalanche. The glacier carved out the great lakes, but it did it very slowly.

Debugging a CI pipeline is another thing which is very slow. Make change, commit, push, wait, repeat.

This in turn means that as a developer I need a lot of unrelated small work items to switch to, inefficiently, rather than just stay on task and run. It took 28 minutes for my Azure AKS cluster to come alive. That is 26 minutes longer than it took on Google GKE or on my desktop (kube-spawn). That’s an inconvenient amount of time. If it were a day, I would switch tasks entirely. If it were 1 minute, I would wait. 28 minutes is on that threshold where switching makes no sense and waiting makes no sense. Tempes Fugit becomes Tardius Fluit becomes carpe diem.





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