Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Self-Repairing Deployment Pipelines

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Orchestrating complicated distributed processes is an unfamiliar aspect of computing that leads to all kinds of confusions. We are not taught how to do it in college, so we end up trying to apply any methods we are taught, often in inappropriate ways.

Promise theory paints a very simple picture of distributed orchestration. Rather than imagining that a central conductor (controller) somehow plays every instrument by remote magic wand, in an algorithmic fashion, promise theory says: let every player in an ensemble know their part, and leave them all to get on with it. The result is an emergent phenomenon. The natural dependences on one another with make them all play together. Over-thinking the storyline in a distributed process is the easiest way to get into a pickle.

This is a key point: how we tell the story of a process and how it gets executed are two different things. Modern programming languages sometimes pretend they are the same, and sometimes separate the two entirely.

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