Puppet Labs 3.0 steps toward software-defined cloud management

The new release brings automated resource management to not just compute, but also storage and networking

For system admins saddled with bringing their organizations into the cloud age, IT automation software is emerging as a must-have tool. As it stands, the two prominent factions in the space are Puppet and Chef, both of which equip IT admins to write scripts to automatically handle repetitive management tasks, such as applying patches, fixing security holes, and downloading updates. But these tools are by no means simple, a point well made by InfoWorld contributor Peter Wayner: "They're not a push button tool for managing what is still very much a command-line game that requires command-line code."

In an effort to strengthen its standing among prominent IT automation players, Puppet Labs today unveiled Puppet Enterprise 3.0. Among the software's improvements is a new software-defined approach to automating resource management for not just compute, but also networking and storage. The company is also promising superior orchestration of management operations in large volumes of cloud nodes, along with better scalability and performance.

"This is a major release for us, and it reflects the ways in which the cloud has continued to change the constraints on infrastructure and increase the opportunity for operations to be a differentiator," wrote Luke Kanies, CEO of Puppet Labs. "The cloud promises greater agility, shorter cycle times, more flexibility, and massive scale, but only if we continue to enhance automation's ability to keep you at the front of the envelope."

Puppet Labs 3.0 steps toward software-defined cloud management

Puppet Labs Enterprise 3.0 introduces a unified, software-defined approach to automating management, enabling admins to use the Puppet language to manage resources. Organizations can download pre-built configurations for automating management of devices from such vendors as Juniper Networks, Cisco, and NetApp through Puppet Labs's Puppet Forge repository.

"One of our core goals at the founding of Puppet Labs was to build an abstraction layer to let you manage your whole infrastructure through a single language, a single platform, with one audit trail across all of your systems," wrote Kanies. "With this release, we get that much closer to this goal of a software-defined infrastructure. As the automation of your compute resources gets better, network and storage resources become the bottleneck, especially in an application-driven world."

Also new to Puppet Labs 3.0 are new orchestration capabilities that enable users to dynamically discover resources, then fully orchestrate complex management operations on large volumes of cloud nodes, according to the company. These capabilities are intended to help IT departments discover and manage the array of virtual, transient cloud nodes that traditional tools, such as CMDBs, custom scripts, and spreadsheets, can't handle.

The orchestration engine has a dynamic, pluggable discovery service with which users can tap data sources or real-time query results to locate, identify, and group cloud nodes. The engine also boasts a progressive deployment capability for deploying and testing changes in phases before they hit production.

"The engine's fully pluggable service can discover nodes based on Puppet classes and Facter facts," according to Kanies. "If you already have external sources providing inventory management data, you can add them with a plugin. No matter where the data is coming from, you can narrow down your discovery results with regular expressions, complex searches, and sophisticated sorting."

Puppet Labs is also claiming an approximate 200 percent performance boost and 100 percent increase in scalability in the offering, "thanks to serialization improvements in the core Puppet engine and the addition of a centralized storage service with PuppetDB," according to Kanies.

Other improvements include a GUI for discovering and browsing through any service resources within the infrastructure in real time; full support across major enterprise platforms, including Microsoft Windows, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, IBM AIX, Solaris, and other major Linux distributions; and reusable Puppet Forge modules.

Puppet Enterprise 3.0 is available today. More information is available at Puppet's website.

This story, "Puppet Labs 3.0 steps toward software-defined cloud management," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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