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Puppet Enterprise 2.0 Expands Configuration Management

The open source Puppet configuration management system has become a defacto required skill for many systems administrators in recent years. With the new Puppet 2.0 Enterprise Release, Puppet Labs, the lead commercial sponsor of Puppet, is aiming to further accelerate Puppet adoption with improved usability and provisioning capabilities.

"Puppet is becoming in some ways, a short way of talking about a particular type of system admin," Puppet Labs CEO Luke Kanies told InternetNews.com. "If you say you're looking for Puppet skills, you're looking for automation, DevOps and someone that really understands how to get the most of a system, while spending as little time as possible on server deployment."

Earlier this year, Kaines' company Puppet Labs released its first commercial enterprise release of Puppet. Puppet Enterprise provides commercial capabilities on top of the open source base.

"This is our first major update to our commercial product release, and it's our first major release that has a significant amount of functionality that is not available as part of our open source software," Kaines said.

One of the new features in Puppet Enterprise 2.0 is a new GUI that provides the ability to discover nodes and software across a cluster of machines.

"You can find out which hosts have a particular package installed and what version, and crucially how different are those things," Kaines. "This GUI gives you the ability to compare versions and discover what the current state of configuration is across any sized cluster of nodes."

Going a step further, the new GUI can enable a systems admin to standardize a configuration and fix those that deviate.

Puppet Enterprise 2.0 also provides new orchestration features. Kaines explained that this feature enables enterprises to have a large list of tasks to perform that can all be driven via a GUI. The orchestration system is all based on a message bus that leverages the AMQP (Advanced Message Queuing Protocol) messaging protocol. By using AMQP instead of simply connecting to the nodes via SSH, Kaines said that operation can occur significantly quicker.

From a provisioning perspective, Puppet Enterprise 2.0 enables administrators to provision directly on an Amazon EC2 cloud or in VMware's vCenter. Kaines explained that Puppet is able to manage configuration across both physical and virtual environments.

The Puppet Enterprise 2.0 release is based on the upcoming open source Puppet 2.7 mainline release. While Puppet Enterprise layers commercial features on top of an open source base, Kaines stressed that his company is not using an open core model. The open core model is one where commercial software is built on top of open source. The negative connotation is that core functionality is something available only in the commercial version, and the open source version is somehow crippled as a result.

"You won't get me on record saying that we're open core," Kaines said. "Open core has become a stick to beat companies down. It is critical that the open source products are always fantastic and great stand-alone software."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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This article was originally published on September 23, 2011
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