Enterprise 3.0 From Puppet Labs
Cloud computing continues to reach greater and greater levels of sophistication and ability, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the remarkably agile world of Puppet Labs. This Portland-based company might not be a familiar name to the average consumer, but it is likely that its reputation looms large with anyone involved in IT, since they make the IT automation software that allows the big guys with public faces, such as Twitter, Yelp, eBay, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Google, Disney, Citrix, Oracle, and Viacom keep everything running with no downtime.
Puppet Labs’ release of Puppet Enterprise 3.0 ups the ante once again by making an unparalleled level of scalability and service accessible to any IT organization.
On the eve of the release of Enterprise 3.0, CloudTweaks spoke to Puppet Labs founder and CEO, Luke Kanies, who told us how over the last eight years, his company’s goal has been to build a product that allows system administrators to manage their infrastructure with a common language. “Customers,” he says, “are looking for agility, to be able to do more in less time, and to respond to market changes more efficiently.” In many cases, tools that companies are using to manage data on the cloud were built before the cloud era. But organizations large and small now stand to gain from the experience of companies such as Puppet Labs, as well as DropBox and Zynga, to understand and exploit the dynamism of public cloud.
“Today, every company is a technology company. Every company is a software company.”
When asked for specifics that go beyond the standard marketing hype, Kanies was pleased to oblige. “When companies first got into managing data,” he said, “a lot of it was outsourced.” Kanies pointed out how the role of data management was greatly misunderstood. It was seen as an outlier or subset of a company’s main existence. But today an arm’s length approach to data management is not enough. Data and information, handled in real time with no gaps, is the essence of all business. “Today, every company is a technology company. Every company is a software company,” he said.
“There is a need to be able to respond really quickly to the market,” Kanies added. “Ordinarily, with any improvement or solution there is a cycle time between the developers’ keyboards and deployment.” This, he states, “is because the management of compute, network and storage resources is often siloed into separate organizations using separate tools.” Puppet Enterprise 3.0 seeks to resolve this problem by delivering a unified, software-defined approach that will help its customers reduce that time.”
Kanies pointed out how difficult it is, for example, to keep track of a company’s infrastructure in the virtual world. “In the physical world it is easy to have an up-to-date list. But much of the status list of a data infrastructure not available,” which is why his Enterprise 3.0 comes with a discovery tool that quickly locates, identifies and groups machines across a wide range of categories and availabilities.
An example he shared related to deployment: for an organization that has thousands of machines, both physical and virtual, the need to send an upgrade or improvement across the system might sound obvious, but to bring a selection of machines offline to implement the update, even if just for ten seconds, or to reboot the entire thing – these are nightmare scenarios for an IT manager when the competition is just a breath away.
Enterprise 3.0 helps sniff out opportunities for seamless data management and system improvement. It identifies, for example, whether ten or a thousand or ten thousand machines can make the needed changes in a transparent way. An update, for example, can be applied to 10% of the infrastructure, allowing it time to make sure is working. Then this build can be applied to the next 10% and then the next 10% and so on, for example “pushing an update on QA nodes on Amazon East, and just the Apache servers.” This approach seeks to keep a business moving while it adds improvements on the fly.
During our chat, Kanies pointed out a parallel between his company’s innovations and those that came decades before in the more tangible world of heavy industry. “Think about the pitfalls of manufacturing,” he said, “and how companies like Toyota created a revolution in manufacturing by maintaining low inventory.” He pointed out that in order to thrive companies had to be very lean, using just-in-time manufacturing and minimizing the time between procurement and deployment. “Delay,” he said, has no value.”
This third major update, from a company that enjoys the active financial participation of giants such as Google Ventures and Cisco, appears to move one step closer to a seamless yet still very open model of managing large amounts of data and resources on the cloud. Cross-platform capability, combined with an impressive collection of over 1200 modules available in the Puppet Forge, allows IT managers to realize both scalability and cost savings for their specific data management and IT automation needs.
By Steve Prentice