Inspector Gadget

Puppet Enterprise 3.1 goes live with nifty new event reporting tool

Lucy Carey

JAXenter catches up with Puppet’s Brian Stein and pokes its head under the hood of Puppet Enterprise 3.1

DevOps tool Puppet continues to pique user interest, with job postings with the keyword ‘Puppet’ spiking 66% in the last year alone. Following the release of Puppet Enterprise 3.1, we chatted to VP of engineering for Puppet Labs, Brian Stein to find out how sysadmins can benefit from the new retoolings, more details on their recent VMware collaboration, and what’s in store for Puppet in the future.

JAXenter: What new features are involved in the latest release of Puppet Enterprise? What are the most disruptive for the Puppet community?

Stein: With the release of Puppet Enterprise 3.1, we aimed to double-down on the promises we made with Puppet Enterprise 3.0 by making management of complex IT infrastructure easier, more fluid and more agile. Specifically, Puppet Enterprise 3.1 introduces several new features aimed at helping sysadmins gain a complete and detailed view of their company’s IT infrastructure.

For instance, the Puppet Enterprise event inspector is a new reporting tool that allows sysadmins to interactively inspect change events in multiple ways, providing instant, actionable insight to troubleshoot and resolve issues.

Other features include advanced capabilities for power users, offering support for rebooting Windows after package installation, and discoverable and configurable classes and parameters from within the Puppet Enterprise GUI console. Building on Puppet Labs’ commitment of support for platforms critical to enterprise IT, Puppet Enterprise 3.1 now supports Google Compute Engine and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.0. Puppet Enterprise already supports RHEL 5.0 and 6.0, Microsoft Windows, AIX, Solaris, Debian, Ubuntu and many more.

What was the primary motivation for the latest release of Puppet Enterprise?

In our effort to help systems administrators manage the growing scale and complexity of IT infrastructure, we wanted to provide them with an easy-to-use tool that offered actionable insight into the changes occurring within their infrastructure environments.

In diagnosing service degradations, sysadmins typically sifts their way through mountains of data, log files and ad hoc scripts, trying to figure out what changed, where, and how. Puppet Enterprise 3.1 aims to make their lives a little easier by helping operations teams quickly and efficiently understand the impact of changes on service levels.

Could you tell us about the event inspector tool in greater detail? How does it work? Who will benefit from it the most?

Puppet Enterprise’s data warehouse service, PuppetDB, collects and logs every change to every resource on every node. Even in environments of moderate scale, this could represent millions of data points.

The event inspector is a visual, interactive reporting tool that organizes and presents this data residing in PuppetDB. It is able to sort vast amounts of change data along multiple dimensions – what changed, where the change occurred, and how the change happened. In addition, it can “zoom out” to provide a summary of all changes across the environment, and “zoom in” to examine a single change that occurred to a single resource. 

Sysadmins in IT operations teams responsible for deploying and managing infrastructure will benefit the most from event inspector’s capabilities. In today’s fast-paced IT organizations, the never-ending deployment and updating of applications are supported by an infrastructure that is similarly constantly evolving. Event inspector will help sysadmins responsible for this infrastructure stay on top of changes and manage them more effectively, enabling higher sustainable rates of change without any degradations in service levels.

Can you tell us more about the ongoing collaboration between Puppet Labs and VMware? What are the best ways to use VMware and Puppet Labs’ solutions together?

At VMworld EMEA last week we announced an enhanced Puppet Enterprise integration with VMware’s vCloud Automation Center 6.0. This integration with VMware’s private cloud management platform enables sysadmins to deliver a self-service portal of infrastructure and application provisioning for their internal customers of IT services.

This integration complements other joint product integrations between the companies, including Puppet Enterprise integrations with VMware vSphere and VMware vCloud Hybrid Services, VMware’s enterprise-ready public cloud service.

How does your product roadmap look through 2013 and beyond?

Our development focus over the next year involves three major themes. First, we want to continue to build and enhance the core platform. This involves reducing resource requirements, making the overall system faster, and enhancing performance.

Second, we want to make more progress toward helping our customers achieve faster and more frequent releases of their software, through greater ease of use and relevance for a greater audience of people – not only system administrators, but network administrators, network engineers, auditors and help desk personnel.

Lastly, we want to provide our customers with more reusable content through the Puppet Forge, which is our online repository of modules written by our community for open source Puppet and Puppet Enterprise. By sharing and collaborating through the Puppet Forge, the work our customers are doing today is available for reuse by another customer tomorrow.


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