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Bridging the Two Worlds: IT and Networking

Jeremy Schulman, Global Solutions Architect at Juniper Networks, is responsible for developing the Puppet for Junos OS netdev module. This post originally appeared on his blog on the Juniper Networks website on April 2, 2013. It has been reprinted with permission.

The role of Junos technology is to address the problems of today’s networks in a way that is aligned with broader challenges facing IT infrastructure automation as a whole. We all know that managing networks is complex, hard, costly, and requires highly trained engineers. This post is going to talk about managing networks in a whole new way. The concepts in it will change your life. They changed mine.

There is no doubt that something big is happening. Our industry is going through a paradigm shift. Everyone is excited about the idea of “programming” the network. People want to build network solutions independent of hardware vendors; to use open APIs, open software, to collaborate, and to innovate. But most importantly, they need to deliver a network focused on the needs of the consumer of the network. A similar paradigm shift happened a while ago for the IT system administrators (sysadmins) and DevOps – you know, the guys in the data center deploying all those servers or virtual machines driving the need for more networking. As we look forward to how the networking industry may evolve let’s take a quick look back at the history of the sysadmins.

At one point, sysadmins were manually deploying servers, configuring services, and managing the installation of applications – applications that ultimately drive their business. These sysadmins may have had some simple Bash- or Perl- based scripting tools they created themselves, but it was largely ad-hoc. Fast forward to today: sysadmins now use sophisticated configuration management products like Puppet or Chef to fully automate large-scale data center deployments. They write programs to “glue” together these tools with APIs from other vendors like VMware, Amazon, Google, or from other software they download from the open source community. These sysadmins, who were not formally trained software engineers, picked up new programming skills and began focusing on automation as a key business driver, and as a personal asset. They use open APIs and open software. They collaborate. They innovate. They are driving the success of their business. They can (and will) become key influencers in deciding which vendor is deployed in the network.

Module of the Week: maestrodev/maven – Maven repository artifact downloads

This week’s Module of the Week is a guest post from Carlos Sanchez from MaestroDev.

Purpose Manage Apache Maven installation and download artifacts from Maven repositories
Module maestrodev/maven
Puppet Version 2.7+
Platforms RHEL5, RHEL6

The maven module allows Puppet users to install and configure Apache Maven, the build and project management tool, as well as easily use dependencies from Maven repositories.

If you use Maven repositories to store the artifacts resulting from your development process, whether you use Maven, Ivy, Gradle or any other tool capable of pushing builds to Maven repositories, this module defines a new maven type that will let you deploy those artifacts into any Puppet managed server. For instance, you can deploy WAR files directly from your Maven repository by just using their groupId, artifactId and version, bridging development and provisioning without any extra steps or packaging like RPMs or debs.

The maven type allows you to easily provision servers during development by using SNAPSHOT versions—using the latest build for provisioning. Together with a CI tool, this enables you to always keep your development servers up to date.

Why Puppet has its own configuration language

I was O’Reilly’s Velocity conference back in June, giving a talk on hacking Puppet, and Puppet’s configuration language came up a lot. Most people love the language and find it the simplest way of expressing their configurations, but some are frustrated by how simple it is and wish they had a full Turing-complete language like Ruby for specification. I thought it would be worthwhile to discuss why Puppet has a custom language, and dive into some of the benefits and costs.

Module of the Week: pdxcat/amanda – Advanced Network Backup

The following is a guest post by Reid Vandewiele, a system administrator at the Portland State University Computer Action Team (PDX CAT). Reid, William Van Hevelingen, Spencer Krum and other CATs are big contributors to various modules on the Puppet Forge and also host a few of their own. They are active members of the Puppet community and can usually be found on IRC under the monikers marut, blkperl and nibalizer, respectively. Thanks guys for the awesome guest post!

Purpose Provides amanda server and client configuration
Module pdxcat/amanda
Puppet Version 2.7+
Platforms Debian, Solaris, FreeBSD, SuSE

The Advanced Maryland Automatic Network Disk Archiver, or Amanda for short, is a network backup solution in the same class as Bacula. Proponents tout its smart automatic planner, use of native tools to perform data dumps, ability to recover data from tape in the absence of the tool itself, and the available commercial support through Zmanda. A venerable bastion of free and open source software, Amanda has been around since 1991 and is still actively maintained with the most recent stable version having been released on February 12, 2012.

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