Professional Deployments Use Puppet For Configuration Management

Puppet is a configuration management tool that can be used to great advantage managing the configurations of a large fleet of servers in an enterprise.

My first thought upon finishing Turnbull & McCune’s book was that it could well have been titled Pro Deployments, for it covers a whole host of topics, integrating Puppet with a lot of other related tools.

Some of the advanced topics it covers in depth include:

  • integrating Puppet with version control such as git
  • setup of the standard dev, test and production environments
  • conditional application of generalized configs
  • managing nagios & load balancer configs to automatically add new nodes
  • capitalizing on puppet forge modules (like rpm packages)
  • testing your puppet configs with cucumber
  • reporting with the dashboard and the command line

I found it a strong title overall, well written, technical and broad brushed.  Unfortunately I found it sorely lacking in a few areas that I would consider of growing  importance everyday.

  • How can I use puppet for managing cloud hosted servers?
  • How does Puppet compare to other solutions such as Chef?
  • What parts of Puppet itself needs to be backed up and how do I do that?

I also found the discussion of Puppet in a real-time configuration with Marionette Colective was a bit short on details.

Furthermore I have one rather large and nagging question for real world usage and deployments.  There are often times when troubleshooting production systems where you need to dig into configs, and make a change instantly, for instance on a running MySQL server.   How can I do that in a managed way?  Should I put Puppet into manual mode and only push configs when I ask it to?  How about if I want to manage upgrades of a database carefully such as with Oracle, as those can be quite temperamental – how should that process be managed?  How do I prevent crucial production servers from being restarted accidentally?

It would be nice to see a lengthy discussion of these real-world operational questions, but at least for the time being I’ll look to google and various forums for answers.

Link to my full review on Amazon