You don’t need HashiCorp’s Vault

There are a few things I dislike about the programming industry. Much of what programmers do is driven by fads and trends. There is a lot of cargo culting with little critical analysis. This is especially true when it comes to DevOps tools and practices. Today I’m going to argue that you don’t need to deploy and manage any kind of secret token management system, e.g. Vault, if your workloads are already running in the cloud. I’m going to argue that all you need is a set of GPG/AES keys and whatever key management system (KMS) is offered by your cloud provider. Google has Cloud KMS and Amazon has AWS KMS. I’m sure Microsoft has one too but the point is they’re all equivalent and basically have the same API. For the rest of this post I’m just going to generically refer to all these solutions as KMS. Continue reading

Software lifecycle management as operations on attributed graphs

A confluence of events at work recently reminded me of the schema drift problem. The concrete instance or how it comes about doesn’t really matter because the end result is always the same: there is some code on a server somewhere that is running with a version of a schema that is no longer valid. It will continue to work as long as nothing is restarted because the ORM only validates assumptions during startup but as soon as the server is rebooted everything is broken. Continue reading

No one will remember the code

No one will remember the code you wrote but they will remember what kind of person you were. This means you should work on your people skills before working on your technical skills. Learn to define yourself by things other than the code. Learn to be kind, honest, and brave. Learn to be a person before a programmer.

DevOps projects: CronCI

Create a cron job that polls a github repository for changes and runs some tests using an LXC sandbox. For extra bonus points think about serving the test results from files using Apache or NGINX directory listings. Your polling script will also need to use GitHub’s status API to report results. For extra extra bonus points see if you can do it all with just bash and some utilities like jq.

Modelling Encryption Key Hierarchies with Alloy

Setting up key hierarchies with the proper access rights can be a little tricky because reasoning through the implications of access and storage can get a little convoluted. Some questions I had when I was trying to do this at work was how do I set things up so that people can have the access they need without jumping through too many hoops and how many hoops do I need for non-trivial security properties? Also, which keys need to encrypt which other keys and where/how can they be stored without sacrificing security? Continue reading