Furthering your Puppet journey at PuppetConf

One of my favorite parts of PuppetConf is hearing what people are doing with Puppet technology. It’s always a learning experience. You’ll be learning in the hallway, at the events, and of course during the sessions. I love hearing about people pushing Puppet technology in ways I hadn’t considered, or combining it with other tools to make solutions to a larger set of problems.

This year, we have several talks lined up to expand your knowledge of Puppet and take you deeper into the capabilities and extension points of our tech. Allow me to highlight some of the talks you should consider listening to.

A Not-So-Bumpy Road to Puppet 4 at CERN – Nacho Barrientos, CERN

On Wednesday morning, we’ll start out with CERN. Yes, that CERN. They run the particle accelerator, and the systems that power that are automated with Puppet. It’s always interesting to hear talks from CERN, as they’ll talk about things on a scale that very few of us will ever get to work on. They’ll also cover how they’ve modernized their Puppet practice. This talk has science, scale and Puppet. What’s not to love?

Securing Secrets for Puppet, Without Interrupting Flow – Kevin Gilpin & Jody Hunt, (Conjur, acquired by CyberArk in 2017)

Secret management has been a hot topic for years in our space. Do you want to see some practical solutions working with Puppet? If you do, this is a great talk. Kevin and Jody understand the problem set with secrets, and they really get Puppet. They’re talking about enabling flow with security instead of security just being the group of “no” people. Ultimately, that’s what we want: automated flow with a great way to do things, whether we’re managing VMs, containers, or API calls.

What's in a Name? Scaling ENC with DNS – Cameron Nicholson, Apple, Inc

This talk hits on scale, and scaling the classification mechanisms so Puppet knows what configurations and resources belong where. Cameron will be talking about what Apple has done to solve some pretty hard problems, with some schema ideas you might be able to adapt. Have you ever wondered how Apple automates their public web service? You’ll probably learn a bit about that during this talk.

Puppet Platform: A Path Forward – Eric Sorenson, Puppet

Eric, my counterpart in product management from our Platform group, will be going over the future of the Puppet Platform. The platform is our core technologies like Facter, Hiera, Puppet agent, PuppetDB and Puppet Server — so just the parts you use every day! He’ll fill you in on what’s moved forward in the last year in case you’ve been unable to keep up with all the goodness. Then he’ll switch and talk about direction and where we’re taking the platform in the next year.

That’s a whole lot of great stuff, and we’ve only just completed day 1. Whew. On Thursday we start again.

Deploying is Only Half the Battle! Operationalizing Application Stacks with Puppet – Tim Carr & Tim Odom, AHEAD

Thursday kicks off with Tim and Tim from AHEAD showing you how you can operationalize stacks of technology using Puppet. This will be a pretty demo-heavy talk, which always keeps everybody on their toes. They’ll show Puppet managing and interacting with private and public cloud APIs, and hooking into ServiceNow to complete an overall workflow and close those process loops.

How People Actually Write Puppet – Gareth Rushgrove, Puppet

Talks by Gareth are always fun. This one promises to be even more so. Gareth decided to take all the Puppet code he could scour on GitHub, load it into Google’s BigQuery and start asking it questions. Now we’ll see what people are actually doing with Puppet code versus what people are telling us they do. I’m sure some wonderful insights will emerge and I’d be very surprised if a few of them aren’t downright hilarious.

Automated System Compliance from the Inside Out – Trevor Vaughan, Onyx Point

Using Puppet to aid with compliance related efforts has been a strength of Puppet technology for the better part of a decade. Trevor and Onyx Point, however, take it to the next level. They work with government agencies, among others, to prove out compliance. You’ll leave the talk with several ideas on how you could level up your policy and compliance practice. After that, talking to the auditors can be a social event instead of a dreaded interaction.

How Yelp Learned to Trust Puppet Agent Security in a Cloudy World – Kyle Anderson, Yelp

Kyle will walk you through using autosign on certificates for the Puppet agent, but safely. For years, several (most?) companies ran Puppet autosign for certificates. Now there are extension points and options to make autosigining very secure, which lets you automate all steps from the initial provision to the end of the lifecycle. He’ll cover what Yelp did, both good and not good, on their journey toward running a secure cloud.

Custom Types and Providers: Modeling Modern REST Interfaces and Beyond – Tyler Langlois, Elastic

We’re hitting extension points again here. Have you wanted to manage things that operate via a restful API? If so, this session is for you. Tyler will take the audience through mapping resources in Puppet to API calls, and ensuring that code is reusable and high quality. This will provide some building blocks for modeling more services by using ElasticSearch modules/API as the reference example.

Hiera 5: The Full Data Enchilada – Henrik Lindberg, Puppet

Hiera 5 came out late in the Puppet 4 series and is fully integrated in the Puppet 5 Platform. Henrik is going to tell you all about the new capabilities and language options provided by Hiera 5. Whether you’re writing custom Hiera back ends, or you’re curious about how to plug data in from the module level, global level, or anywhere in between, this is the talk for you.

Managing Multiple Configuration Management Tools – Sally Lehman

The world isn’t uniform. Multiple tools can often be in play, whether it’s an old tool that was never completely retired, a coupling of tools due to organizational barriers, or two tools that complement each other nicely. Sally will take a step back and cover having multiple deployment workflows, the costs of multiple tools, and even in some cases, how to help automate the conversation of tools.

This has a been a very brief survey of the Going Deeper with Puppet sessions at this year’s PuppetConf. I’m sure there are a few talks here that look very appealing to you as a practitioner. Keep in mind, however, that beyond the aforementioned talks, there are still 50+ other sessions covering Puppet use cases from beginner to advanced, and address audiences of practitioners, executives and everybody in between. I hope to see you in a few weeks in San Francisco.

Michael Stahnke is director of engineering at Puppet.

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