Interview

Puppet Labs founder Luke Kanies talks about Puppet Enterprise and DevOps - Part 2

Luke Kanies

Luke Kanies

  

What do you feel are its best features, something that Puppet Labs 2.5 offers differently to others?

I think the best features of Puppet Enterprise revolve around its simplicity and abstraction. The simplicity means that anyone can get started with Puppet very easily, and it's worth doing even for small problems. We have some customers who began using Puppet by just managing a single file on a small pool of machines, but within a few years they were managing hundreds of servers. Puppet's abstraction means that sysadmins and developers can focus on the high-level problems in their infrastructure, rather than spending time on problems like how a package manager works, or what the format of a configuration file is.

Even if Puppet doesn't directly support a tool, it's easy to build this support into Puppet via its many extension points, so at worst you pay a small extension cost and from then on the plugin is again a source of leverage.

What exciting modules are we seeing pop up in Puppet Forge?

There are really all kinds of modules there, and in fact we run a blog series called Module of the Week, where we highlight something special that week. We've been focusing for the last few weeks on a module called 'stdlib' that was built by our community and includes a ton of useful extensions to Puppet. I like that one because it both provides a lot of functionality and showcases how easy and valuable it really is to extend Puppet.

There are also the OpenStack modules, which have been getting a lot of attention recently. Many of our customers and partners have been collaborating on them, and it's been impressive how useful they've been given the early state of OpenStack.

Was the decision to provide Windows support logical progression for Puppet Labs Enterprise?

Puppet Labs grew up as a mostly Linux/Unix shop, and all on the command line, so moving into Windows is really a response to customer demands. Our customers are excited because it will allow them to use a single tool and a single language to manage their entire infrastructure, rather than having each team or platform having its own silo. Even better, you can build a single solution that builds and manages a service across both Linux and Windows.

DevOps has long been a sort of buzzword, but a lot of enterprises are coming round to the idea. Do you feel the future for development teams is DevOps and if so why?

As I'll be speaking about at EclipseCon this week, DevOps is more about operations than development, but I think it's absolutely the future. I think it is to operations as Agile development was to the developer world - refocusing on the customer, on the problem, and finding the best, shortest way to solve the problem rather than focusing on processes and controls.

We think it's a critical part of getting IT past being the gatekeepers of technology and instead having them be a great source of innovation and leverage. We've already seen that in some organizations, like Google and Amazon, operations is a real competitive advantage, and DevOps practices are exactly how they got there.

What is the biggest challenge for DevOps do you feel?

I think like all movements, DevOps has to stay just edgy enough for people to care deeply about it but just mainstream enough that it can really spread. We're starting to see a lot more DevOps consulting - in fact, we offer some forms of it - and while that can help people get up and running quickly, it can also provide a kind of false conversion to some organizations, similar to what has happened in Agile. Just because you have iterations doesn't mean you're agile, and just because your sysadmins are talking to your developers doesn't mean you're practicing DevOps.

What things have Puppet Labs got lined up in the future, or is the focus simply on 2.5 for the time being?

At Puppet Labs, we like to work to the future but talk in the present. We're very excited about 2.5, but we've already been working for months on our next major capabilities. You'll be able to see the direction of our releases from our upcoming open source release in May, but you'll have to wait a few months after that to see our next major Puppet Enterprise release. You can bet that all of these features will be focused on making Puppet more powerful but less complicated, and easier to use by newcomers but providing more long-term value to veterans.  

In other words, it will all be about well-designed software, by sysadmins for sysadmins.

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