OpenStack gains appeal with Puppet Labs integration

Puppet Labs aligns with OpenStack software, as OpenStack vies with Citrix’s CloudStack and others to be the platform of choice for cloud.

IT pros are still kicking the tires on OpenStack and its rivals, but Puppet Labs throwing its weight behind OpenStack gives some cloud shops more reason to choose the open source platform.

OpenStack’s most recent iteration, codenamed Essex, was released last Thursday with the hope of attracting bigger fish in the cloud computing and enterprise markets. Meanwhile, Citrix Systems split from OpenStack in favor of its CloudStack platform, causing a schism in the market. The two also compete with Eucalyptus in the open source cloud world, and more broadly, with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and VMware for dominance.

Puppet Labs, an IT automation software company, jumped into the fray with OpenStack because it is now a mature product its customers use, company executives said.

“More companies are not just talking about OpenStack, they’re deploying it in actual production implementations, including Rackspace’s public cloud based on Puppet,” said Puppet Labs CEO Luke Kanies.

More companies are not just talking about OpenStack, they’re deploying it in actual production implementations, including Rackspace’s public cloud based on Puppet.

Luke Kanies, CEO of Puppet Labs

Early adopters say Puppet’s integration will enhance OpenStack’s appeal. “I was going to implement OpenStack anyway, because I knew that I could write a Puppet module around the API,” wrote Joe Julian, senior systems administrator for Ed Wyse Beauty Supply in Seattle, Wash., in an email. “The integration does make it much more appealing because it will save me implementation time and money.”

The integration between Puppet and OpenStack caught the eye of one service provider who had already begun testing CloudStack.

“I’ve always been a fan of automated configuration,” said Doug Granzow, senior systems administrator for a small education services provider in the Washington, D.C. area. “Even at small scale, we like it because we know servers are built the same way every time.”

Granzow, who uses Puppet to manage about 100 production servers today, said Puppet’s involvement will earn OpenStack a second look from him, though it’s too soon to tell which way he will go.

How Granzow and others like him make up their minds in the coming year is the hottest topic in the IT market right now, analysts say. As IT pros evaluate their options, tools like Puppet can help, according to Jonathan Eunice, analyst with Illuminata, Inc. in Nashua, N.H.

“If, in the future, OpenStack isn’t cutting it and you want to re-host on CloudStack, Amazon or another environment that hasn’t emerged yet, a tool like Puppet can … help you move,” said Eunice. Conversely, “your options can be limited by not having a high level of build automation.”

Puppet, available in open source and Enterprise editions, allows systems administrators to determine how they want their infrastructure to look without specifying all the steps and processes to get there. Instead, Puppet carries out those steps automatically through a resource abstraction layer, allowing for fast, repeatable systems provisioning, configuration and management at scale.

OpenStack, originally the result of a collaboration between service provider Rackspace and NASA, provides the software building blocks to build a private cloud, and includes four main services -- compute, also known as Nova; an identity service called Keystone; an image store known as Glance; and an object store called Swift.

Puppet and partners Cisco, Red Hat, Morphlabs and eNovance worked together on the “glue” that can now be used to join Puppet and OpenStack, thereby automating the provisioning and configuration of each of those four main elements, as well as the ability to move quickly to new versions of OpenStack as they emerge.

Beth Pariseau is a senior news writer for SearchServerVirtualization.com and SearchDataCenter.com. Write to her at bpariseau@techtarget.com.

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