Monthly Archives: March 2013

Puppet Camp 2013

Yesterday I attended¬†Puppet Camp London 2013 at Somerset House. It was an interesting day with a lot of good talks and demonstrations.¬† In this article, I’ll attempt to link to all of the speakers and slides from the event and describe what I found interesting.¬† The day was sponsored by Red Hat and Quru.

The began with Dawn Foster, Community Manager at Puppet Labs, introducing Puppet Labs CEO Luke Kanies.

  • State of Puppet: Luke Kanies – Puppet Labs CEO

State of Puppet detailed the history behind the creation of puppet, how things started and where they are now. It was apparent from the slides that there has been a large growth in puppet deployments, community and modules over the last 12 months. I especially enjoyed the point that the ‘old’ ways of doing upgrades – eg taking down services for a migration on a Friday evening, performing the required steps, and then starting things up again on Monday – just don’t work in today’s environment. We’re used to having IT available at all times – we want to access Internet Banking when we want to. We expect access to news, blogs and entertainment 24 hours a day. And we’re more likely to be running services that are available internationally, so the traditional ‘maintenance window’ is no more. Another important fact was that when puppet was created, there wasn’t much cloud deployment. Nowadays, it’s everywhere and having a tool like puppet to manage these instances is very useful. We even have VM’s being created and destroyed dynamically for just a single HTTP request. With Puppet, we can basically keep everything in ‘sync’ using a standard programming syntax rather than custom scripts. Luke explained that Puppet Labs began with an Open Source product, and made money by providing consultancy services to set this up. Nowadays, they’re keeping some of the features hidden away their Enterprise products. There’s nothing wrong with this, I just hope that the Open Source version with features that might overlap with Enterprise, such as Puppet Dashboard, don’t fall by the wayside. Other items mentioned in the presentation include Puppet DB (which tracks the status and changes in your environment in a database) and plans for more configuration tools to push configurations to servers at specific times or under controlled conditions. There was also talk about the ability to add machine dependencies within Puppet, eg provision a database, but don’t start the webserver that talks to it until the database host has been fully provisioned. In terms of user base, Puppet has lots of clients including Barclays, FT and LSE in London, and Google, Cisco and HBO in the US. Plus many more. The size of deployments varies too, from managing just a few servers to managing tens of thousands.

The slides from the Luke’s talk can be found here: State of Puppet – London. Readers may also be interested in Chris Spence State Of Puppet slides featured on the Puppet Camp Barcelona Wrap Up blog post or the slides from the San Francisco Puppet Camp – State of Puppet – San Francisco 2013.

  • Building reusable modules: Jon Topper – Scale Factory

All of the talks were interesting, but this is the one where I can start to reap immediate rewards. Firstly, it provided good ways of writing puppet modules, and there are definitely good take-aways from this such as writing puppet modules that perform very small, discrete pieces of work. Dependencies between puppet classes is also a bad idea. RSPEC Puppet, puppet parser and Puppet Lint are great tools for checking your code, although it was pointed out that puppet-lint can be very, very picky, so use with appropriate settings that work for you.

You can find more about Scale Factory from their website, whilst the slides from Jon’s presentation can be found here – Building Reusable Puppet Modules.

Jon’s Twitter profile is jtopper.

  • Automated OS and Application deployment using Razor and Puppet: Jonas Rosland – EMC

The slides that Jonas presented can be found at Puppet Camp London 2013 Puppet And Razor Jonas Rosland.

Razor is a provisioning system that can be used quickly provision new servers – both physical and virtual. The key thing is that it’s event driven rather than user driven. In the demo, Jonas configured Razor to provision certain types of servers depending on certain conditions. The example used physical RAM to determine what type of Operating System should be installed when a server is PXE booted, but you can use it on any kind of variables that you get from factor. I’m not sure how this would work in remote sites where you don’t have a PXE server. The install of Razor looks very straightforward.

Other tools worth looking at are: The Foreman, Cobbler, vSphere Auto Deploy

Jonas has some useful links on his pureVirtual website: Puppet and Razor.

Jonas’s Twitter profile is virtualswede

  • De-centralise and Conquer: Masterless Puppet in a dynamic environment: Sam Bashton – Bashton Ltd.

The slides that Sam presented can be found at Decentralise And Conquer Masterless Puppet In A Dynamic Environment.

This was a really interesting presentation. Essentially, Sam was building a set of RPM’s which can then be deployed to the target servers via Pulp. Puppet then runs locally on the remote target, triggered from a postinstall command in the RPM package. There’s no central puppetmaster in this setup, so no single point of failure.

Sam’s Twitter profile is bashtoni

  • Building self-service on demand infrastructure with Puppet and VMware: Cody Herriges – Puppet Labs

Cody talked about the pros and cons about running your own infrastructure versus using hosted solutions such as Amazon. His slides can be found here – Building self-service on demand infrastructure with Puppet and VMware

  • Enterprise Cloud Management and Automation: John Hardy – Red Hat

John presented ManageIQ. This clever piece of software interrogates your SAN arrays and discovers the Virtual Machines that are installed there. It can then look into these machines to determine what’s running, what files are installed, record changes on these files and perform full inventory control. It can even prevent a VM from being powered on if it violates a policy, such as not being an approved O/S. ManageIQ is being used by UBS and other big organisations. Red Hat acquired ManageIQ in December 2012, so expect to see this rolled into Red Hat products soon. Hopefully, much of it will become open source too.

  • Puppet Demos: Chris Spence – Puppet Labs

There was no slideshow from Chris, it was a hands-on demo showing how Hiera can simplify puppet code, how configuration files (such as a load balancer) can be dynamically generated as servers are powered up and powered down, and he showed some useful Puppet 3.0 commands.

Chris has written some puppet modules which can be found on Puppet Forge and has some useful material on his blog.

Chris’s Twitter profile is tophlammiepie

  • Closing thoughts

Overall, it was a good set of talks and great to talk other puppet users to discover how they are using it. I’ll certainly be using Hiera for deployments and I’m going to start using tests for my modules. In terms of contact with the Puppet community, I’ll definitely make use of ask.puppetlabs.com and puppet-users.

Finally, here’s a link to the official Puppet Camp London 2013 blog – Fun Times and Great Info at Puppet Camp London

Oh yes, and thanks for the post-camp drinks, T-Shirt and Hat! I look forward to Puppet Camp London 2014!

Red Hat Puppet

Red Hat Puppet