Herding Code 174: Paul Stack on automating Windows configuration management with Puppet and PowerShell

At NDC, K Scott and and Jon talked to Paul Stack about automating server configuration management with Puppet and PowerShell.

Download: Herding Code 174: Paul Stack on automating Windows configuration managment with Puppet and PowerShell

Show Notes:

  • Intro
    • (00:32) Paul gave a talk on Windows infrastructure management with Puppet and PowerShell. Puppet is a configuration management tool. It allows you to define a configuration management level, and Puppet will bring it to that level and keep it there.
    • (01:05) K Scott asks Paul how this relates to his continuous deployment emphasis. Paul explains how this has been part of the maturity model they’ve been using at his employer, Open Table.
    • (01:50) Paul explains how they started using Puppet in their pre-production environment of 19 VMs. Their production environment is four times that large.
  • Some more questions about Puppet
    • (03:00) Jon asks how Vagrant and Chef fit in. Paul explains how Puppet, Chef and CFEngine relate.
    • (04:07) K Scott asks if it’s worthwhile to look at Puppet in a small environment with 2-3 servers. Paul says there’s an investment, so you really start seeing the rewards as things start getting more complex.
    • (05:01) K Scott asks how you define a state.
    • (06:30) K Scott asks about the client running on the target servers.
    • (06:51) Jon asks how the verification works.
    • (07:32) Jon asks if it’s possible to use Puppet in cloud environments.
    • (07:56) K Scot asks if you can use Puppet to configure developer workstations. Paul talks about GitHub’s Boxen system. Jon talks about his experiences looking at Boxen before settling on sprout-wrap.
    • (09:21) Paul mentions that Open Table just open sourced their Puppet IIS implementations.
  • How Puppet relates to PowerShell and Chocolatey
    • (09:36) Jon asks what the PowerShell tie-in is, since Puppet is all Ruby based. Paul talks about the PowerShell scripts they exec from Puppet and how they use them to do things like turn Windows features on and off.
    • (11:01) K Scott asks if you could use Chocolatey with Puppet, and Paul says they’re using Chocolatey via PowerShell. Jon says that sounds useful since Chocolatey can now integrate with the Web Platform Installer, and Paul says they’re doing just that to install .NET 4 on their servers.
  • More questions about Puppet
    • (11:47) Paul talks about how traditional infrastructure management runs on documentation, and how they can replace all of that using Puppet.
    • (12:58) K Scott asks if this is also useful for deployments. Paul says a deployment is just a different configuration state, so Puppet can handle that just fine.
    • (14:09) Jon asks if Puppet can handle database state.
    • (14:50) Jon asks how you handle licenses with Puppets.
    • (15:20) Jon asks how Puppet relates to Windows configuration management options. Paul says that at Open Table they’ve moved to using multiple platforms, so they need infrastructure management options that can work across all of those environments.
    • (16:30) K Scott asks what is was about Puppet that caused him to lose some hair. Paul says it’s scary to be able to write a module that makes changes to 90 servers.
  • And some more Puppet stuff
    • (17:30) Jon asks if it’s possible to do automated testing with Puppet configuration and modules.
    • (18:27) K Scott asks if there’s any kind of rollback plan for Puppet.
    • (18:40) K Scott tries to ask Paul about what he does in his free time, but Paul says in his free time he writes code and changes the subject back to Puppet.
    • (19:21) Paul says he’s going to be speaking at Puppet Conf, so he’ll be speaking at a Linux administrator’s conference.
    • (20:00) K Scott asks if there’s political fallout from systems administrators who are concerned he’s trying to replace their jobs. Paul says he’s trying to free them up from repetitive tasks in their jobs so they can get more done.
    • (20:56) K Scott asks Paul about upcoming conferences he’s going to be speaking at.

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