Our client is an 8(a) Certified Minority Owned Company based in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. They specialize in delivering Enterprise Network Engineering, Enterprise IT, Program Management, and Project Management support to a diverse range of clients, including large commercial corporations, government agencies, and government-contracted agencies.
Our journey with the client began when they approached us with an existing application developed using the MERN stack. Their primary request was to transition the backend programming language to Rust, known for its outstanding performance and robust security features. However, as we delved deeper into the project, we uncovered several additional challenges:
- Self-Hosting Concerns: The client expressed a desire to host the application on their own servers, which posed compatibility and deployment challenges.
- User Experience and UI: The application’s user interface was plagued by bugs and lacked user-friendly features, leading to a suboptimal user experience.
- Codebase Disarray: The codebase was scattered across multiple branches, resulting in confusion and inefficiencies in development.
- Bloated Docker Image: The application’s Docker image was excessively large, hindering deployment and maintenance.
- NodeJS Performance Issues: The current NodeJS application suffered from performance and stability issues that needed immediate attention.
- Lack of CI/CD Pipeline: The absence of a Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipeline hindered efficient development and deployment processes.
- Inadequate Code Documentation: The absence of proper code documentation complicated development and knowledge sharing.
- Complex Workflow: The absence of automation for starting, stopping, and deploying different services created a convoluted workflow.
- Security Concerns: The non-obfuscated nature of NodeJS exposed the application’s source code, raising security concerns.
- gRPC Issue: The suitability of gRPC for external communications posed difficulties, especially in situations where the client expected flexibility and programmability for their customers.
However, we saw these challenges not as roadblocks but as an opportunity to revamp the application, enhance the user experience, improve security, and establish efficient development and deployment practices.
The iQuasar Solution:
1. Language and Performance Enhancement: We recognized that the existing application faced performance, security, and code organization challenges. Collaborating closely with the client, we decided to transition the backend from NodeJS to Rust. Rust’s reputation for performance and security made it the ideal choice. Our efforts were divided into backend and frontend tasks, focusing on optimizing performance and security.
2. Project Management and Organization: To ensure effective project management and codebase organization, we employed ClickUp, a robust project management tool. This allowed us to outline tasks, allocate responsibilities, and maintain a structured approach throughout the project. We consolidated the codebase into a single stable branch, providing a solid foundation for future development.
3. Docker Image Optimization: We tackled the challenge of the large Docker image size by meticulously examining the Docker file. Through optimization efforts, we reduced the image size from 5GB to less than 500MB. This optimization not only facilitated smoother development but also contributed to efficient deployment and maintenance.
4. Existing Codebase Improvement: Recognizing the client’s growing customer base, we temporarily shifted our focus to address the existing NodeJS codebase. We resolved significant bugs, introduced new UI components, and established a reliable CI/CD workflow. This ensured that the application remained functional and user-friendly, allowing the client to attract and serve customers without service disruption.
5. Tool Development and Automation: To simplify client operations, we developed and deployed command-line tools that streamlined processes like launching Docker containers and updating images from Docker Hub. Additionally, we automated the deployment process and created CLI tools to maximize the utility of new features. This approach reduced manual intervention and enhanced the client’s ability to manage and utilize the application effectively.
6. Rust Integration and Performance Enhancement: We strategically migrated critical components of the application from Node.JS to RUST, leading to significant performance improvements in the application. Rust not only reduced application size but also optimized memory utilization, resulting in a smoother overall user experience. Now, customers can think about deploying applications inside the application on the same infrastructure, which was unimaginable for the customer previously.
7. Value-Added Features: We enhanced the application’s value by integrating an AI chatbot, streamlining access to information, and immediate queries our clients’ customers might have while using the product, and saving users’ time on research.
Additionally, we introduced a comprehensive licensing system to improve revenue generation. This empowered the client to manage licenses, customers, and fair usage effectively. We provided mechanisms for the generation of licenses, consumption, implementation of restrictions applied on licenses, and post-expiry limitation/restoration.
8. External API and Programmability: We transitioned from gRPC to REST API architecture/framework for all APIs and inter-service communications. This shift provided programmability to the client’s customers and added value by developing a federated API Gateway on top of the microservices architecture, enhancing scalability.
9. Effective Communication and Collaboration: Transparent communication and daily updates with the client were key to addressing concerns effectively. This ensured the client was informed about ongoing work progress, challenges resolved, and obstacles faced during development. Consistent communication fostered collaboration and a shared understanding of project developments, leading to new ideas and better product management.
10. Overall Impact and Objective Achievement: By employing a strategic approach that included addressing immediate concerns while advancing towards a Rust-based application, we achieved a successful transfer and enhancement of the system. Our overarching goal remained centered on client satisfaction and meeting consumer needs through meticulous planning, effective activity management, and continuous software refinement.
How our solution created value for the client:
Our solution delivered substantial value to the client in multiple ways:
1. Transition to Rust for Enhanced Performance: We significantly improved the application’s performance by migrating the backend from NodeJS to Rust. Rust’s efficiency allowed for smoother operations, reducing response times, and enhancing the overall user experience.
2. Revitalizing Existing NodeJS Code: We didn’t stop at migration; We revitalized the existing NodeJS code, addressing performance and stability issues, and ensuring that the application ran more smoothly and reliably.
3. Streamlined Deployment and Maintenance: Our solution simplified the client’s tasks related to deployment and maintenance. The introduction of command-line tools and automation empowered the client to efficiently manage the project, eliminating operational complexities.
4. Valuable Feedback Loop: Effective communication was a cornerstone of our approach. We provided the client with crucial feedback throughout the journey. This feedback loop proved invaluable in addressing emerging challenges and optimizing the application’s performance and security.
In essence, our solution went beyond mere migration to Rust. It encompassed comprehensive improvements, a user-centric approach, and continuous collaboration, all contributing to an enhanced application and a more satisfied client.