GOV.UK - Not Your Father's Stack
Monday, June 3, 2013 at 9:14AM
Todd Hoff in Example

I'm not sure what I was expecting the stack GOV.UK used at launch to look like. Maybe some messenger owls and lots of cobwebs? But not so at all. So much not so I thought any organization looking at their own stack for ideas could learn something from the considered choices of others.

The diversity of technologies used was surprising. They use "at least five different programming languages, three separate database types, two versions of an operating system." Some may think of this as a weakness, but they think it a strength:

The reason we operate such a diverse ecosystem is that we are focused on solving real problems. Our first task is to understand the problem or need we are solving and then to choose the best tool for the job. If we restrict ourselves to moulding the need to the tools we already have, then we risk not solving the initial problem in the best way possible for the user. By restricting software diversity or enforcing rigid organisational standards on a project, there is a possibility of descending into a cargo cult, where we simply repeat the same patterns and mistakes in everything we make.

This "use the best tool no matter what" policy is outlined in a blog post Benefits of diversity. The only choice that wouldn't be found in a modern startup is the use of Skyscape as their cloud provider. I'm assuming this has to do with legal issues around data sovereignty as this is government site, but otherwise it's all straight out of standard modern web practice: monitoring, dashboards, continuous release, polyglot persistence, distributed source code control, etc. Good to see a government getting it.

What stack are they using? (it's a direct copy so feel free to read the original)

Frontend:

The core of the servers:

Redirection:

Applications:

Databases and other storage:

Monitoring, managing and alerting:

Supporting Tools:

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