Evaluating Puppet's Automation Capabilities | Digital Transformation
Digital Transformation

Evaluating Puppet’s Automation Capabilities

Digital Transformation - Evaluating Puppet’s Automation Capabilities

As part of Digital Transformation, enterprises are rethinking their infrastructure, applications and other software based systems and service platforms to enable innovation, business agility, performance improvement, resilience, and secure operations. Automation, while considered as a key driver for DevOps, if leveraged in a holistic manner, can be the shortest path to driving related change with confidence”, claims Puppet. With humble roots in Open Source, Puppet is now positioning itself as a major player in Automation. With multiple established Automation providers serving Global Enterprises already, how does Puppet match up? We speak with Puppet’s Chief Technical Strategist to find out.

 

Top 5 Learning Points

  1. Most IT operations are repetitive and non-unique. How do we set up systems that may use new technologies to make a difference to the process?
  2. How technology teams can help deliver business value.
  3. How does automation enable innovation or business agility which is the business need of today?
  4. How do CIOs arrive at the RoI for automation?
  5. What are the security issues automation can help solve

 

Show Notes

  • Automation by itself is not sufficient to guarantee the successful outcomes of any digital transformation initiative.
  • Today, delivering business value is everyone’s job.
  • We see both as the senior leadership have an understanding of the strategic encore of automation and that enables you to deliver higher quality software faster ultimately.
  • Automation allows the transparency, the speed of response, and helps handle security issues better, and that’s what business needs.
  • The ROI for automation really depends on its ability to increase speed, the delivery and increasing quality at the same time and reducing of defect rate.
  • Most of the data from the security industry show that the biggest security risk in most companies is actually in terms of inconsistency in the production run.

 

Transcript Summary

As part of Digital Transformation, enterprises are rethinking their infrastructure, applications and other software-based systems and service platforms to enable innovation, business agility, performance improvement, resilience, and secure operations. Automation, while considered as a key driver for DevOps, if leveraged in a holistic manner, can be the shortest path to driving-related change with confidence”, claims Puppet. With humble roots in Open Source, Puppet is now positioning itself as a major player in Automation. With multiple established Automation providers serving Global Enterprises already, how does Puppet match up? We speak with Puppet’s Chief Technical Strategist to find out.

 

Transcript:

Sanjog: We shall talk about Evaluating Puppets Automation Capabilities, with Nigel Kersten, Chief Technical Strategist, Puppet. Today, many organizations are using digital transformation to address their next wave of needs or challenges. You claim that while automation is a key driver for DevOps, it can also be the shortest way to drive digital transformation. Is that positioning justified?

Nigel: Automation has been around for quite a while, but with the DevOps movement picking up in the enterprise and corporate sectors, it has gathered steam. However, automation is necessary but not sufficient for DevOps. One of the earlier definitions of DevOps was around CAM – Culture, Automation, Measurement, and sharing.
When packaged together, these a cultural change where silos within organizations break down. This systems thinking approach for optimizing the software delivery lifecycle spans from code testing and running it in production, to actually measure the results of the automation. Hence you’ve instituted a culture of sharing, both within the organization and externally.

One of the common things we often talk to people who are embarking on this journey is that 80% to 90% of what you’re doing in IT is the same as everyone else. So the prepackaged work in the existing modules Puppet, Puppeteer, does pretty much the same as many of the other tools in the space.

…the way I always think about DevOps, the automation, and their relationship- is that automation is necessary, but it’s not actually sufficient… I totally agree that automation by itself is not sufficient to guarantee the success of the outcomes of any digital transformation initiative.

We try to standardize the operation to align with how everyone else doing it, then focus on unique differentiation around that 10% of your infrastructure which is actually different from everyone else. But I totally agree that automation by itself is not sufficient to guarantee the successful outcomes of any digital transformation initiative. This is why we think DevOps really picks up when you take a more holistic approach to systems thinking, doing more than just agile, automated infrastructure management. That’s where you start seeing much higher rates of success.

Sanjog: Clearly, automation just enables select IT capabilities. How do you see that enabling innovation or business agility which is the business need of today?

Nigel: This has been the other really great aspect of the whole DevOps movement in the enterprise. But for too long, IT operations, systems and administrative, are considered the cost center and seen as a necessary evil, without much connection to actual business value. We have very tech savvy senior leaders, who have an understanding of the strategic core of automation. That enables you to deliver higher quality software, faster ultimately.

But on the flip side, people who work in the DevOps space can’t just ignore what the business does. Today, no technical person doesn’t do business, delivering business value is everyone’s job. And that’s been an amazing mind shift that we’ve seen amongst the practitioners and team managers, particularly in large organizations.

We see both as the senior leadership have an understanding of the strategic encore of automation and that enables you to deliver higher quality software faster ultimately.

They care now about the actual value being delivered to the business, and both align in any project–in terms of delivering that actual business value. It also helps them to be able to communicate the changes that they’re making. You need buy-in from higher management but projects that are delivering business value and enabling the business to be agiler and more innovative, get budget support. They are showing a culture of continuous improvement and innovation and will continue getting funded for that, creating that sort of momentum with an organization.

Sanjog: But Nigel, many organizations have already embraced automation, and they’re also talking about DevOps as part of their IT portfolio. In many cases, they have actually been reaping the benefits. What gaps do you think Puppet is uniquely positioned to fill?

Nigel: Yes. I think there are a few things. If you take as a proxy for automation, the whole infrastructure is code movement that was one of the earliest trends that I’d say 10, 15 years ago. Before the DevOps movement started, we have seen few people who offer solutions in that space, but we are unique because we follow an infrastructure is code process. Rather than just doing automation operators, they’re creating series of some proprietary systems where you might describe automation movement as part of the application. What we can do with a tool like Puppet, is actually express your infrastructure in a text-based format.

You can start taking advantage of decades of learning from the software engineering side, start doing structures of codes and use those for control. You can have tags releases, branches, or you can start doing peer review around your code change.

DevOps isn’t about operations people having to become systems architect. It’s an understanding of software delivery like technology and how they can take advantage of software engineering features.

We know that all of these things result in more reliable code and more reliable infrastructure. I think they have general benefits in the infrastructure of code space. This way we are uniquely positioned to take advantage of those things. We also provide an acceptable language; you don’t need to be a full-time programmer. DevOps isn’t about operations and people having to become systems architects. It’s an understanding of software delivery like technology and how they can take advantage of software engineering features.

We have a very clear domain-specific language that we use in Puppet. It lets you express your infrastructure and is acceptable to both developers and users. Moreover, it feels like working with code and the software acceptable to operations people who perhaps, with their limited programming experience, find it easier. I think that’s one of the really big differentiators.

This language is very robust, and its usage is quite rigorous. When people express their infrastructure in the code for using Puppet, it can be compiled that into a catalog and can be stored historically. I think we’re increasingly seeing that the DevOps movement provided all sorts of benefits with our Dev and Ops teams working together for a common goal. But inside enterprises, particularly in financial services, retail and healthcare, there are other constraints. One likes to paint the security team the boogeyman, the bad people who just want to say no to everything. There are real reasons why these people exist, and why process and policies exist the way they do because we actually provide very, very strong and rigorous system around.

We’re people who are just embarking on learning programming and the sort of automation journey. Both are rigorous enough to fulfill the actual business needs around the security and compliance.

Reporting the changes that were made, we discovered that we had a vulnerability, in the first week of November last year. We can actually go back to see what was the actual state description of that part of the infrastructure at that time. But I think the way Puppet’s uniquely positioned is that we’re people who are just embarking on learning programming and the sort of automation journey. Both are rigorous enough to fulfill the actual business needs around the security and compliance.

Sanjog: Puppet also claims that the automation solutions you deliver would ensure better class security and DevOps, compared to the competitors. What’s the basis of this claim? And what has been added or changed in your service that allows you to make this assertion or even strengthen it? It’s a new offering. If it’s new offering, are there any disclaimers?

Nigel: I’d say the other aspect of an infrastructure is code work. The moment we see it’s from the DevOps report that we put out each year, which is quoted and will be published as results in the next few months for 2017, you get much, much better results if security is involved out there in the pipeline. Rather than just security turn into a low way, you have to validate the production and run through a checklist, you know what ports are open, and if it is an application installed. So, once you’ve actually got an infrastructure code approach and a high degree of automati... Read Full Transcript v  

Contributors

Nigel Kersten, Chief Technical Strategist, Puppet

Nigel came to Puppet from Google HQ in Mountain View, where he was responsible for the design and implementation of one of the largest Puppet deployments in the world. At Puppet, Nigel was responsible for the development of the initial vers... More   View all posts
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