A fresh start can be daunting, especially when it comes to revamping an existing Java Spring application. This was my journey with the HalloCasa real estate platform, and here's how we took it from deployment nightmares to smooth, cloud-native operations. If you would like to improve your Java Spring CI/CD experience as well. Reach out to me!
As well I have a recording about the Java Spring CI/CD experience on YouTube. Check it out here
HalloCasa is a dynamic Real Estate Platform designed to allow real estate agents to create their own business card within a couple of minutes. It also serves as a directory and a referral network.
My motivations to work on HalloCasa are that I had the chance to contribute to the development of a powerful product. My expertise in AWS could be applied effectively.
Working with a co-founder who was not only business-savvy but also had a knack for generating compelling content in the real estate area. He has his own podcast https://blog.hallocasa.com/podcasts/. Make sure to check it out!
In the beginning, our deployment process could only be described as patchwork:
Setting up Maven, Tomcat, and MySQL locally. Creating a war file and then SSHing into an EC2 VM to transfer it. Manually restarting the Tomcat server each time.
Our NextJS frontend wasn't much different. We had to SSH into our EC2 VM and manually run “npm start”. And to make matters a bit more convoluted, our frontend was in BitBucket while the backend resided in AWS CodeCommit.
Here’s how I revamped our deployment:
Migrated from AWS CodeCommit and BitBucket to GitHub.
Leveraged GitHub Actions for test builds and introduced a PR AI reviewer for efficiency.
Deployed our configuration as code, which is both clean and manageable. With docker-compose, local development became hassle-free. Gone were the days of setting up Maven, Tomcat, and MySQL locally.
Further utilized this to feed AWS ECS, making deployments consistent. Additionally health checks were introduced to ensure that the application is up and running. If the health check fails, the application will restart and in most cases that fixes the problem.
Implemented a CI/CD staging pipeline that first deploys changes onto QA and subsequently to PROD. Ensured robustness by integrating testing with Postman. We setup a dedicated AWS account for each stage, ensuring clear demarcation and management.
Adopted Flyway to empower our Java App to manage the database, eliminating the need to provide access to the database for schema modifications.
Introduced plenty of metrics to monitor our backend. For an informed decision on crucial metrics, I sought advice from ChatGPT about the most essential metrics for a Java application.
Our revamped production setup went live on 01/08/23, and the migration was seamless.
The refurbishment of HalloCasa reaffirmed several beliefs:
Docker is a lifesaver. The portability and consistency it brings to applications are unparalleled. CI/CD is a game-changer. It automates manual tasks and ensures faster, reliable deliveries. AWS CDK is powerful. It simplifies cloud resource provisioning and management. CDK Pipelines streamline deployments. With it, managing multiple stages of deployment becomes a breeze. One revelation that stood out was how the lines between infrastructure and application seemed blurred in our setup. And this convergence was a positive one, indicating tight integration and consistency.
The HalloCasa journey is a testament to the power of continuous learning, adaptation, and innovation. Our users now enjoy a more robust platform, and we can sleep better at night, knowing that our deployment is smoother than ever. If you have a Java application which needs a bit polishing, reach out to me!
I hope you enjoyed this post and I look forward to seeing you in the next one.
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