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Puppet promises to help users tame their IT infrastructure. PHOTO: Skitterphoto

Portland, Ore.-based Puppet launched about 10 years ago with a platform designed to help companies move and then automate and operate their workloads to new infrastructure in scale, in production.

And that new infrastructure would be...?

Anything really, Tim Zonca, VP of marketing for the company told CMSWire. "People rely on us to adopt and manage whatever the new wave of technology is at the moment." 

Indeed, looking back at Puppet's own history is like tracing the data center's tech evolution over the past decade.

At one time virtualization was a hot request, Zonca said. Then it was OpenStack. (In fact, Puppet was so successful in helping its companies migrate to OpenStack that that today half of the world’s OpenStack implementations are managed by Puppet, according to Zonca). Recently, its focus has been on DevOps and the use of containers.

Major Puppet Updates

So it no doubt came as little surprise to attendees at PuppetConf, the company's annual user conference in San Diego this week, when the company unveiled its latest offerings: major updates to Puppet Enterprise 2016.4, a new integration with Jenkins and Puppet Docker Image Build.

The latter is a new set of capabilities adding to existing Puppet functionality for installing and managing container infrastructure, including Docker, Kubernetes, and Mesos, among others.

The company has also introduced functionality to give users a better grip on situational awareness. Users can now query, for example, any endpoints running on Server 2010. 

Other features in the upgraded platform provide better insight into what may have changed on a system, why, and by whom. For example, Puppet Enterprise 2016.4 now has reporting that identifies intentional changes — that is, changes you’ve defined — versus corrective or unexpected changes, such as manual but unplanned changes or configuration drift, which Puppet is designed to automatically correct.

Infrastructure as Code

The underlying principle of how Puppet does all this, though, remains the same. Users define their infrastructure as code using the common language Puppet provides and then shape what they want that infrastructure to look like. 

While the latter part changes as the years (and more lately months) go by, the fundamental principle remains the same, Zonca said.

"Companies have moved away from traditional waterfall approaches, for example and are using more modern virtual control systems. We provide that foundation plus the automation hooks that give you that common language to snap into tools like Jenkins."

The common foundation also makes it easier for disparate teams to collaborate, he added.

Why Puppet Resonates With Users

More and more as tech changes so quickly, Puppet users rely on the platform to move workloads to new technology while still managing the existing technology, Zonca said. It is not always a graceful trajectory for companies as the some of this infrastructure, such as containers, are far more complex than originally realized.

Consider container technology and compare it to more traditional infrastructure, Zonca said. "The average physical server's life is three years and can manage 100 applications. Then along came VMware and now you had ten smaller virtual machines on a server, each one with a lifespan of one year. You had 3,000 applications to manage. Now you can have ten containers in a virtual host and each one lives one minute. And how do you troubleshoot in that type of environment when the scale is mind-boggling.”

Zonca said the company has been involved in "so many conversations" about containers along these lines. "People think it is so simple when they are talking about just one service but multiply that by numerous containers and it gets complicated very quickly."

Ultimately companies don’t want to worry about the infrastructure and what is running behind the scenes, Zonca said. "That is what we enable."