homebloggetting it straight from source at puppetconf justin seabrook rocha patrick adair

Getting it Straight from the Source at PuppetConf: Justin Seabrook-Rocha & Patrick Adair

When you’re responsible for keeping other people’s enterprise websites up and running, you never want to say you’re sorry they’re down. That’s why Justin Seabrook-Rocha and Patrick Adair both use Puppet technology in their work for Hurricane Electric, an internet services company whose transit backbone connects to more than 2,100 IP networks. Hurricane Electric is located in Fremont, California, and Justin & Patrick both work in the same building that was once the manufacturing facility for NeXT Computer, Steve Jobs' gig before his 1997 return to the helm of Apple. Both Justin, a network engineer, and Patrick, a network technician, are registered for PuppetConf in August. They’re expecting to get tips and advice from other attendees and speakers on ways to make their own Puppet infrastructure better, and the latest updates on what’s new with Puppet. Justin has been working for almost three years on maintenance and configuration for Hurricane’s colocation and transit customers. “I’ve always enjoyed getting my hands dirty with network stuff,” he says. “I live on the command line.”

At last year’s PuppetConf, Justin was hoping to learn more about Foreman. He came away with more than he’d expected, including a rewarding conversation with Ohad Levy, the author of Foreman. “I got a lot more from Ohad than you get out of documentation,” Justin says. “I was able to grill him for upcoming features.” Last year’s PuppetConf was also where Justin learned about Hiera and Razor. This year, he’s looking forward to more exposure to Puppet 3 , and to having the chance to pick up fresh information. “I’ve been out of the loop in recent months. I’ll have a chance to come up for air, and hear what’s new in the Puppet community,” Justin says. Patrick also enjoyed learning about Puppet 3 last year, so much so that he decided to upgrade as soon as he got back to work. “I went to the Hiera and Razor talks, and saw that this was where provisioning was going to be,” Patrick says. “If I wanted to make my life easier, that’s where I needed to be.”

Over the past year, Patrick has extended his use of Puppet. One example: setting up Jenkins to help with continuous deployment. “We will run through a suite of tests for software we’ve written, so we can say for the branch we’re in, ‘these are the things that are broken,’” Patrick says. “That’s something we couldn’t do as easily or as completely before Puppet came into our lives.” Vagrant is also in frequent use at Hurricane. “One of the things Puppet has enabled us to do is take a blank Ubuntu 12.04 Vagrant box, and with a single command provision an entire development environment on someone’s laptop or desktop,” Patrick says. “Basically you clone the repository for the project and hit vagrant up to spin up the virtual machine. It contacts the puppet master and lets you test everything you are writing in the real environment for production.” While Patrick notes he had to short-circuit the SSL node verifications to get that to work, “it has increased our productivity about twofold. Plus we can create repeatable environments we can test inside of.” Like Justin, Patrick enjoyed meeting the people behind the technology — particularly Mitchell Hashimoto, the creator of Vagrant. “He gave me some really good tips to make our processes come up faster,” Patrick says. “I also almost, almost sold him service at one of our data centers.” As well as stimulating discussion, both Patrick and Justin enjoyed other conference amenities — t-shirts and other great swag, and surprisingly good food. “The food was actually a highlight,” Patrick said. “It wasn’t like normal conference food. You guys actually splurged and got some nice stuff. It gave me lots of energy.” You don't want to miss PuppetConf. Sign up now for the 25 percent Early Bird discount!

Photo of Steve Jobs in the NeXT conference room, date unknown. Photo of Patrick & Justin in the conference room that once belonged to NeXT Computer, and that now belongs to Hurricane Electric.

Patrick and Justin use the same conference room Steve Jobs used when he was running NeXT Computer. Date of left photo unknown.