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If you like slipping your hand into Puppets, look for these certified types

Software to do your job for you, what's not to love?

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Sysadmin blog Puppet Labs is rolling out what it calls the Puppet Supported Program, which pushes gear that's been tested and certified to work with its automation software Puppet.

Swift uptake by many big-name vendors in the program comes on the heels of a $40m funding announcement. If you had any remaining doubts that DevOps is a thing, and people are willing to pay for it, they should now be put to rest.

The list of program partners at launch is heady: Arista Networks, Brocade, Cisco, Cumulus Networks, Dell, EMC, F5, Huawei and NetApp are all on board. Many other vendors – such as Juniper – were already doing deep integration with Puppet Enterprise long before the certification program.

Puppet Enterprise, of course, integrates with most mainstream operating systems, and its ability to control public cloud instances, virtualisation technology is growing by leaps and bounds.

Puppet Labs has raised $86m in total, edging it ahead of competitor Chef (which has bagged $65M). Other competitors (such as Saltstack, with $600k in funding) exist in what has become a very popular space.

The Puppet certification process is important as it gives vendors something to focus on and sysadmins something to look for in a product. The future is software-defined infrastructure, in your humble hack's opinion. Looking for the "Puppet Supported" logo will be a good indicator that the vendor in question has figured this out.

Towards PaaS

I was recently asked what it takes to get to the point that a company can adopt Platform as a Service (PaaS). At first glance, it would seem mad not to be developing all future applications on top of CloudFoundry, OpenShift, Heroku or similar. So why isn't everyone doing this?

This simple truth is that most of us are so busy running around with our hair on fire that we don't have the time or resources to build a cloud, figure out how it all works and start porting applications, business processes, monitoring tools and so forth to this new magical PaaS setup.

Getting there from here requires, more than anything, a culture change; one the embraces DevOps. The path towards the fully automated, fully orchestrated future leads straight through Puppet Labs' back yard.

Software-defined infrastructure

Most of the money raised by Puppet Labs is being devoted to expansion of the company's engineering capabilities. That said, some of that money is earmarked for the sales, marketing and business development bits necessary to ensure this certification program is more than a flash in the pan.

What's good for Puppet Labs is good for the entire DevOps industry here; Puppet Supported software and hardware will all have some form of software addressable controls or configuration. If Puppet Enterprise can talk to it, than it can also be made to talk to Chef, Saltstack, or even your custom in-house automation software made out of bubble gum and nightmares.

It's long past time for this. The more gear we get that can be addressed in this manner, the closer we are to leaving behind the days in which every single bit of hardware, every single operating system and evert single application need individual attention. The pets versus cattle argument isn't exactly new.

Easily identifiable and commonly available certified gear moves cattle-based administration from "mad dream that needs a team of PhDs" to "achievable reality for everyday sysadmins". This puts the dream of a fully software-defined infrastructure within reach.

It won't happen overnight, but I, for one, as a sysadmin, hopes it does happen. ®

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