A Consul Learning Journey

Follow along with our new education engineer as he dives into HashiCorp Consul for the first time.

As someone with over a decade of experience in various IT environments, I’ve had the fortune of participating in the shift from on-premises, managed infrastructure to hybrid cloud and infrastructure as code. As a result, I’ve seen both large and small organizations significantly reduce overall infrastructure costs, speed up application development and deployment time, and increase service resilience.

HashiCorp’s products have led the change in the infrastructure automation space, empowering organizations of all shapes and sizes to come as they are and scale as they like. HashiCorp’s practitioner-centric way of leading this paradigm shift in the infrastructure world inspired me to take on the role of an Education Engineer for the Consul platform.

I participated in migrations from on-prem workloads to a single cloud provider (AWS) in my previous roles. I am familiar with some infrastructure-as-code concepts, but I had never used a tool like Consul until I joined Hashicorp. I appreciate the team’s decision to hire someone with no Consul experience as it gives me an opportunity to experience the learning journey and  empathize with practitioners.

I’m excited to share my learning journey so you can begin utilizing Consul in your personal projects or your organization for automating network configurations, dynamically discovering services, and enabling secure connectivity across any cloud or runtime.

Getting Started

To get started with Consul, I recommend diving into the Getting Started collection. These tutorials walk you through the core features and functionality of Consul with videos, diagrams, and step-by-step instructions for starting out with Consul locally, on Hashicorp Cloud Platform, or Kubernetes.  In addition to the introduction tutorials, the Certification Review Guide is a great syllabus for your personal learning journey. It provides a structure for learning Consul that caters to a variety of learning styles, whether you’re someone who prefers the raw docs, exploring the hands-on, interactive Learn tutorials, or a mix of both. No matter how you learn, utilizing this outline can help you understand the core concepts of Consul by putting smaller lessons into a higher level context.

While the Getting Started collections and Certification Review Guide helped provide a learning path, some of Consul’s concepts were challenging for me to understand due to the methods and tools I had adopted throughout my DevSecOps career. The experiences I gained running large, load-balanced enterprise workloads (either on-premise or in AWS) were primarily structured in ways that relied heavily on networking specialists to provide connectivity between the monolithic or microservice apps we supported. Due to the amount of time I spent operating in those types of environments, it took some time for me to grasp the concept of how service mesh works in general. Thankfully, the Understand Consul Service Mesh tutorial features a video from our co-founder and CTO, as well as easy walkthroughs that eventually gave life to a glorious “ah-ha!” moment for me.

Next Steps

For me, the most fun part of the whole learning experience is turning theory into reality by enhancing my own personal projects with Consul. This helps me solidify these concepts within a familiar environment.  As a bonus, my personal projects are now supercharged with Consul’s service discovery and health checking capabilities. The service discovery capabilities have given my container-based services the ability to discover each other with Consul rather than depending on ever-changing IP addresses. The real-time health monitoring allows me to track the health of my services with scripts, TCP, TTL, and many other methods so I can ensure my services perform as expected. Next on my list is to incorporate Consul’s service mesh features in my projects, including Intentions, which control service to service connectivity. :)

As the world of technology evolves, the team here at HashiCorp continues to put empowering practitioners first when designing new features for the platform. The Consul education team develops tutorials for features as they are released, so there’s always something new to learn.

I’ll continue to create and update Consul content that best serves the practitioner learning journey. I welcome your feedback on Consul Learn guides as you go through them.

I wish you all the best in your learning journey!

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