Coherence Strives to Streamline Cloud Developer Experience
As a chief technology officer, Zachary Zaro couldn’t really find the solution he needed for cloud-based development.
Ultimately, he thought Heroku offered the state-of-the-art experience developers needed, but most companies ended up deploying elsewhere for price, compliance or other reasons, said Zaro, who is now CEO of the startup Coherence.
”Through building software teams, I just found myself reinventing the wheel,” he told The New Stack. “I ultimately felt like my team spent a third of their time on this kind of work … And so Coherence is the product that I wished I could have bought the last time I was a CTO, and we went and built it.”
What Coherence Does for Developers
Coherence, founded in 2021, essentially “functions as your DevOps team” said Zaro, integrating development source control such as GitHub with the cloud environment and providing a common dashboard for your cloud, workflow and development environments. It allows developers to preview branches and write and ship code from one interface.
“Essentially, we configure the toolchain for all the different environment types and pipelines that you’ll need for your common enterprise software team workflows: development environments, branch preview environments, CI/CD pipelines to deploy to those and then pipelines to promote your builds to production — and pipelines include things like database seeding, database migration, integration tests,” Zaro said.
“It’s much more in-depth with the integration into a team’s workflow than just like another YAML format for describing how to do code jobs in the cloud — we’re a little bit more opinionated and prescriptive.”
Coherence is focused on a full stack integrated vision, as opposed to “most of the DevOps automation tooling, which is focused on your cloud deployments,” he added.
“We’re trying to set up the same tools that you would already be using, but just host them and automate the setup for you so that when your laptop environment is messed up, you don’t waste half a day you just click a button and get a new VS Code instance,” he said.
The company is currently giving away free trials as part of its beta program. It’s a small company but is seeing a lot of interest, Zaro said, particularly after it launched support for Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Zaro sees Coherence as competing in two different categories of tools: Cloud IDE and DevOps automation tooling, which includes the “whole universe Kubernetes-based infrastructure automation.”
Why hasn’t Coherence leveraged Kubernetes in its approach?
“We’re trying to use as much of the cloud-provided services as possible,” Zaro said. “We want to use things that Amazon’s supporting and providing. A lot of times in order to be multicloud on Kubernetes, you sacrifice using the cloud-managed services and use open source things yourself.
“And then there’s a support cost … We’re trying to really have their infrastructure reliability and security depend on their cloud provider, not on their own infrastructure team.”
Under the hood, Coherence works by configuring a team’s AWS account or Google Cloud Platform account, he said. By doing that instead of using Kubernetes, engineers avoid long-term maintenance problems, such as needing to upgrade.
“We’re really trying to help with maintenance as much as with setup if not more, frankly,” Zaro said.
The company is also researching how to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into its solution.
“Ultimately, AI should be embraced is our position — it’s going to make teams more powerful, and it’s going to take busy work off their plate,” he said. “We actually think it will make DevOps more important because you’re going to have more code that you need to test more frequently. So something like a robust platform, whether it’s built or bought, becomes more important, and we think that will help us as well, as much as it relates to governance.”
In the future, he sees a new category of tools emerging that he categorized as the developer experience platform, which includes Coherence, AWS’s recently released Code Catalyst, and Replit, which he categorized as targeting the hobbyist more than the enterprise.
For now, however, Coherence mostly competes with engineers manually performing work internally, he said.
“They’re all hiring DevOps engineers to do this work themselves, like they have someone on their team who’s their AWS expert, whether they call that DevOps formally or not,” Zaro said. “And that’s really what we’re competing with.”