David Heinemeier Hansson

September 19, 2023

Kamal 1.0

I count my lucky stars that SUSE's pricing for Rancher and Harvester was so ridiculous over the top for our situation. If they hadn't reached for those million-dollar contracts, we'd probably be stuck in enterprise vendor hell forever, buying over-priced consulting services for Kubernetes and VM tooling. That would have sucked.

Now that might sound sarcastic, but I'm being earnest here. So many of the best opportunities in life only reveal themselves when the easy path is blocked. We are creatures in search of the least resistance, so to reach higher, we usually need a little push. That dance with the enterprisey sales people at SUSE was such a push for our cloud exit adventure at 37signals.

Because it clarified our values and cleared our minds. We will not build our critical infrastructure on top of anything but open source, and it has to be simple enough that our whole team can understand it. If such tools do not exist, we will build them.

Thus it is with great pleasure I announce the release of Kamal 1.0. A simple yet battle-tested deployment tool extracted from our cloud exit, which features zero-downtime deploys, rolling restarts, asset bridging, and just about everything else most people will need to deploy and update their web applications. Whether they run on cloud VMs or their own bare metal.

I started working on this project at the beginning of the year, spent a couple of months fully focused on getting it good enough to carry our cloud exit, and now, with the help of a growing community and the excellent team at 37signals, it's seriously solid.

We've already used Kamal to extract seven production applications from the clutches of the cloud, including our cloud-first app of HEY. We've estimated that the savings from these moves will amount to at least $7m over five years, and have already managed to secure 2/3s of those savings on a run-rate basis.

But Kamal isn't just for folks looking to exit the cloud. It's for anyone who wants the option of ever being able to easily do so. This includes brand new startups where it doesn't make any sense to buy a bunch of hardware to bet on an unproven business. These startups can still profit from using Kamal on day 1, so that they'll be able to leave, on their own accord, when it makes financial sense to do so.

If you're curious of whether Kamal might help you, checkout this new video demo I did in celebration of the release: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWSpjKErnco

About David Heinemeier Hansson

Made Basecamp and HEY for the underdogs as co-owner and CTO of 37signals. Created Ruby on Rails. Wrote REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, and REMOTE. Won at Le Mans as a racing driver. Fought the big tech monopolies as an antitrust advocate. Invested in Danish startups.