Published on 5 June 2015 by

In an earlier blog post, we highlighted how Puppet Enterprise has improved the bottom line for phoenixNAP, saving this Arizona IT services and cloud hosting provider $1 million in the first few months of deployment.

Bryan Andrews, the application services manager for phoenixNAP, spoke with us about the improvements that Puppet Enterprise has enabled in his work, and that of the rest of his team.

Bryan handles the middleware service that enforces phoenixNAP customers' configurations, standards and security classes. The company is part of VMware's vCloud Air Network, and it adopted Puppet Enterprise as part of its DevOps initiative, to help scale efficiently as business increases. Bryan notes that automated deployments are now 100 times faster than they were when the team deployed manually. "We're able to push a change up to production, through QA, in 20 minutes if we really need to," Bryan said. "Before, that was almost not possible; it would take a whole day to do."

Environments get built faster with Puppet Enterprise, too. What used to take two weeks now takes "hours, if not minutes...some systems can be brought up in 20 minutes," Bryan said. Even better, the team no longer discovers that the manual build process created lots of errors, such as neglecting to create a network ACL (access control list). And auditing controls can be built right into the code.

Speaking of auditing, Bryan talked about how Puppet helps phoenixNAP continually enforce compliance with PCI standards. Puppet lets the company enforce PCI on every system involved with credit card data, from development all the way through to production, by automating:

  • centralized logging
  • login restrictions
  • root password changes
  • user authentication restrictions
  • deployment of the financial system, with assurance of always-compliant configurations

Insight into systems is another advantage Bryan appreciates. Before Puppet Enterprise, the team could see only which machines and services were functioning, and which were down. With Puppet, the team can see on a mass scale when configuration changes happen, and whether they've failed or completed.

It's also easier to make changes at scale. "When we needed to make a small change to 100 servers before, it used to take one engineer multiple days," Bryan said. "Now we can do it with a simple class change that's audited and managed." Not only that, changing the class also assures the team that the change is reflected in the QA and production environments, leading to reliable releases — and fewer pager calls.

Aliza Earnshaw is managing editor at Puppet Labs.

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