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Coder Speeds Build Time with Multicloud Platform

Coder is an open source platform that provides developers with more tooling options, while still supporting uniform provisioning on demand.
Jun 30th, 2022 7:27am by
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Integrated Development Environments (IDE) usually are one size fits one cloud, but the developers of code-server are betting that developers choose their new multicloud, multicompute IDE platform.

Called simply Coder, the open source platform is designed for development shops that want to provide developers with more tooling options, while still supporting uniform provisioning on demand.

It’s built on common development interfaces (SSH) and leverages open source Terraform on the back end to handle the provisioning, allowing developers to run a cloud IDE on any compute platform — including on-premise data centers, AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, DigitalOcean, Kubernetes and Docker. It also supports ARM, Windows, Linux, and MacOS workspaces.

Coder co-founder and CEO Ammar Bandukwala pointed to Code Spaces (which is restricted to VS Code and only runs on Azure VMs) and Cloud9 (which runs only on AWS) as examples of IDEs that are restricted by cloud providers.

“Historically, cloud IDEs have been restricted to both one type of compute and one type of IDE,” Bandukwala told The New Stack. “What makes Coder really special is [that] you can run on any cloud on VMs, containers, bare metal, any kind of compute substrate, and then you can bring in whatever IDE — VS code, Jetbrains, Jupyter or Studio, whatever, really, you can dream up.”

Despite being built on top of infrastructure-as-code solution Terraform, Coder is not infrastructure-as-code, but it is designed to help developers self-serve, said Jay Lyman, senior analyst with 451 Research, which is part of S&P Global Market Intelligence.

“They’re more developer-oriented, so they’re more about service for developers, as opposed to a service or capabilities for IT operators,” Lyman said.

In fact, Terraform experience is not required to use Coder, which built templates into the product for AWS EC2, Azure, Google Cloud, Kubernetes and other cloud platforms.

“We can leverage the tens of thousands of resources Terraform already has built out to give our customers a complete ability to represent infrastructure,” Bandukwala said.

“Between development environments that have grown more complicated and dependent on external services, and the need for higher velocity, seamless collaborations between teams often spread out over the world, demand for cloud IDEs has grown,” said Stephen O’Grady, principal analyst with RedMonk, in Coder’s press release. “This is the opportunity that Coder is built for.”

Palantir’s Build Times Improve 75%

Big data company Palantir Technologies deployed Coder to try and avoid the challenges it faced in giving developers enough compute power, without having to buy new machines or support the infrastructure overhead of virtual machines. Among the challenges faced by enterprises with large development teams is the inevitable configuration drift as developers spin up their own environments, which in turn can create security problems. Coder allows developers to self-serve virtual machines while still maintaining centralized protocols.

”With a few clicks, developers can deploy new environments, request more resources, and get to work faster,” Palantir wrote in a June blog post, “The Benefits of Remote Ephemeral Workspaces.” The company reported that build times improved by 78% and Git clone times were improved by 71%. It also found that Coder reduced onboarding support while increasing security.

”If you think about, you know, the fact that a developer is building multiple times a day, they’re shaving 30 minutes off each time — like just massive improvement to engineering, velocity, and engineering happiness,” Bandukwala said.

Palantir also noted that Coder improved contribution across the development team.

“With an easier path to development environments, teams can easily contribute to each other’s codebases,” Palantir reported. “This was especially useful for our engineers working directly with customers. The overhead for fixing small bugs was just requesting a workspace instead of downloading all of the product dependencies.”

Prices for enterprise subscriptions — which includes 24/7 support, auditing, and air gapped deployments, among other features — are not publicly listed, but Coder is open source and free to individual developers to try. He did not name specific clients beyond Palantir, but the press release stated the U.S. Department of Defense is a user.

The Austin, Texas-based Coder has raised $47.8 million over three funding rounds since its 2016 founding, according to Crunchbase.

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TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in: Docker.
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