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Zalando Tech Radar, a basis for guiding technological choices

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The technical teams of the Zalando e-commerce group have set up a Tech Radar of the languages, frameworks, infrastructure and data management software that they master internally. Regularly reassessed, this graphic tool supports the choice of tools for new projects. Its code is delivered on GitHub to allow any organization to create its own Tech Radar.
Drawing inspiration from the Thoughtworks Technology Radar, engineering teams at Zalando (the German e-commerce brand) created their own technology radar, based on lessons learned from their own experience. This summary, originally designed to guide technological choices internally for new projects, is also offered in a version accessible to all offering support for reflection on developments around development, infrastructure and data management tools. It has been produced and maintained for several years by the Zalando Technologists Guild, a group of senior engineers who devote part of their time to updating it.

The technologies taken into account bring together four categories, frameworks, languages, infrastructure or data management software, which Zalando’s Tech Radar (see the July 2020 version) spreads over a target made up of 4 concentric circles. In the center, the first circle called Adopt brings together technologies well mastered by Zalando. These are recommended for internal company teams for wide, large-scale use. Typically, we find Node.js, ReactJS or scikit-learn in frameworks, Docker, Kubernetes or Nginx in infrastructure, Go, Java, JavaScript or Python in languages, or Kafka, Elasticsearch or Cassandra in data management . The second circle, referred to as Trial, concerns technologies that worked successfully in a first project to solve a real problem. These are more risky and may have certain limits, engineers can pass on their experience. Zalando notably places Akka-Http and Angular in frameworks, Failsafe in infrastructure, GraphQL or Kotlin in languages, Airflow or Google BigQuery in data management.

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Those that still need to be evaluated and those that are reserved for the existing
Under the name of Assess, the third circle of Tech Radar designates promising technologies, with obvious potential, which deserve to be invested in prototypes but which present higher risks. They are often very recent and the engineers who know them are few. We see Aurelia or Vue.js in frameworks, AWS Lambda in infrastructure, R in languages ​​and AWS Kinesis, Yarn or – curiously – Hadoop in data management. Finally, the fourth circle, Hold, brings together technologies that are no longer recommended for new projects, but can continue to be used for existing projects. This is where Zalando places AngularJS 1.x and BackboneJS on the framework side, Infrastructure Stups, Clojure, Haskell and Rust in languages ​​and, finally, CouchBase, HBase, MongoDB, MySQL or Oracle DB in data management.

The decision to place technology in a circle or move it from one circle to another result from proposals that are discussed and voted on at guild meetings, Zalando explains. This Tech Radar is based on the active participation and contribution of all the engineering teams of the German group specializing in the online sale of shoes and clothing. For teams who would like to create their own Tech Radar, Zalando has made the code to generate this graphical visualization open source.

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