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Puppet in the Wild: CERN

CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, has been in the news lately for their recent observation of the Higgs Boson particle. Like any research facility dealing with big data, they face infrastructure automation challenges in scaling their computing power—and are looking to move beyond homegrown scripts. Enter: Puppet.

A few of our lucky employees got the chance to tour CERN and talk with Gavin McCance of their IT department about their computing needs and plans to build out their infrastructure. Hear what he has to say in this short video (<2 minutes) below:

Video Transcript:

I'm Gavin McCance, I work in the CERN IT department, I look after the grid compute services and the batch compute services that we use to analyze the data from the Large Hadron Collider experiment. We're here at CERN with the Puppet Labs guys today. So what does CERN do? It's involved in fundamental research, so we have a large underground collider looking for new fundamental particles. In fact, last week we discovered the Higgs Boson, which has been searched for for the last fifty years.

So, the problem we have today, for the last 10 years at CERN we've been managing our compute infrastructure with our own scripts and our own home-developed tools. We're now in the process of expanding our computing resources because LHC physics requirements are quite heavy on compute time, we need to buy a lot more computers, and we're also moving to virtualization. So this is increasing the dynamicness of the environment that we're in, and basically our own, homegrown scripts are becoming a maintenance problem for us.

Six months ago we started looking outside for open source tools to help manage our infrastructure, and we settled on Puppet. We've been having really great experiences with Puppet, so we've been discussing with the Puppet Labs guys here today, and we're very very happy with Puppet. What we're doing now is in 2013, we're getting a new computing center, we're expanding our computing resources, and that center will be entirely Puppet-managed, and over the next two years we'll be migrating our production infrastructure, the computers here, to Puppet as well. So we're really looking forward to working with Puppet. Thank you.

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