Welcome!

@DevOpsSummit Authors: Derek Weeks, Karthick Viswanathan, Gopala Krishna Behara, Sridhar Chalasani, Tirumala Khandrika

Related Topics: @DevOpsSummit, Containers Expo Blog

@DevOpsSummit: Blog Post

Questions to Ask When Evaluating Server Provisioning Tools | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps

Every technology market has a set of questions that is good to have on hand when you look at the products that serve the market

Note: Originally Posted to www.stacki.com

Every technology market has a set of questions that is good to have on hand when you look at the products that serve the market. This is true of every space I’ve worked in, and true with every vendor I’ve worked for. The key is that there are not golden answers to most of these questions. The importance of a given question deeply depends upon your environment. With that said, I’ll throw a bunch of starting questions out here, with the goal of helping some projects get moving along a little faster. Remember to weight these based on importance in your organization, and be aware that these are in no particular order – because ordering by importance should be based on your priorities.

  1. What type of installations does the tool support? Most server provisioning tools fall into one of two categories – golden image, and package based.
    • Golden Image: An ISO taken from a working machine is known to be good for a given Hardware/OS/Patch Level/Apps combination, and is used for all machines that meet those specs. Other golden images exist for differing hardware, app distributions, and OS versions. After install, things like IP are updated to reflect that this is not the machine the image was originally taken from.
    • Package Based: The collection of install files needed to install an OS version (Ubuntu 14.04 on X86, 64 bit, for example) are kept in a repository on the provisioning server, and all servers that use that OS version are installed from it. The next step depends upon tools chosen – either apps are immediately installed and configured, or an application provisioning tool is called to install apps.
  2. What install communications mechanisms are supported? While the vast majority of these tools use local subnet PXE to perform installations, knowing which ones allow alternative methods for remote or cross subnet installation is a necessary step for organizations with distributed managed servers and centralized operations. Also, if PXE is restricted in your organization for security reasons, knowing what your other options are is important.
  3. What are the installation steps? Believe it or not, most of these tools designed to make installation easier are… Difficult to install and configure. While long-term this is not an issue, knowing before hand the level of complexity you are embarking upon is deeply relevant to an evaluation project that may have limited man-hours.
  4. What level of virtualization/cloud/container support does the application have for spinning up servers? Most of these tools will support virtualization as long as it presents on the network like a physical server (eg: Standard network interfaces), but cloud and container support gets more varied from product to product. Some are deeply tied into cloud and container interfaces and will spin up a machine in those locations the same as spinning up a physical or virtual machine. Others are really focused on traditional datacenter servers – physical and virtual – and provide limited or no support for cloud or container instances. Along these same lines, because “server provisioning” isn’t really a thing with cloud – the cloud image does most of that work – many application provisioning tools do cloud and container spin-up. If yours does, this question is not as important, but read on.
  5. What level of support does the tool have for virtualization/cloud/container infrastructure. Think of OpenStack on OpenStack (OoO) – a provisioning tool whose sole purpose is to spin up OpenStack instances. Most provisioning tools are not as single-purpose as OoO, but do provide a level of support for this type of advanced configuration of complex systems. The amount of support varies wildly, and it is best to check with the vendors in question to understand this support if you need it.
  6. Server intake. Another area where usability is impacted is getting servers into the system. What options are available, and what are the requirements for including/excluding specific servers? Because PXE is physical subnet based, the answers to these questions might surprise you. Relevant questions are:
    • Import: What options are there to get a server into the system?
    • Exclusion: How can I specifically exclude a server from the system?
    • Movement: How can I move servers between management systems (From OpenStack into Hadoop for example)
  7. What operating systems does it support? These tools range from “one or two variants of Linux” to “Linux, BSD, AIX, and Windows”. Of course, the more operating systems are added, the more likely that the quality/level of support is not equal amongst them (a vendor that develops and primarily tests on BSD, for example, might not have AIX support that is as thorough). Don’t hesitate to ask what the primary development platform is, just like you would do with a closed-source product.
  8. All of the items in the “What to look for in an open source project” section of my “Free as in Beer” blog. As I point out in that article, it may not be as bad moving from failed open source project to thriving open source project as it is to move from failing commercial product to thriving commercial product, but in the end, there will still be a ton of man-hours invested converting data, policies, etc. and learning the new system. Make sure you’re adopting a project with a future.
  9. Security, security, security. Review the product with the security team. These products are going to install your servers. Obviously this is not “some app used only by one team in Marketing”, it has a huge impact on your security infrastructure. Make sure it fits. Areas where some organizations have had issues with this particular market segment include:
    • Passwords: Most of these products default to a single root password for all installed servers. If that’s not in line with security policy, check to see if this default can easily be changed.
    • Install Manifest: These products install a ton of software all at once. This can make security teams (rightfully) nervous. Ask to see if a list of what is in a “standard” install can be generated for security to review.
    • PXE: As mentioned above, some organizations don’t want it on their network. If you work at one of them, ask what alternative options there are.
    • RBAC: Does the system support RBAC? At what level? If it has an API, does the API support RBAC? It is true that in some orgs the desire to let “Group X” only install/reinstall servers in “Server Rack A” or to only reinstall a server during certain hours is an actual need. If you’re one of those organizations, find out what is available to you. The market isn’t very mature in this space.
    • Policies: Security policy support. Can it roll out your security policies to servers? If you use IPTables, for example, can the tool auto-configure it during install and first boot? If you disallow IPTables, can the tool disable the service during install? Know what support you have.
  10. Application Provisioning Support. My series on DevOps.com covers this topic at the 20,000 foot level, but really dig in if you are trying to create seamless automation across the datacenter. At a minimum, ask if the tool can install agents for your flavor of application provisioning. After that, the application provisioning tool can take over and tweak the installation as part of spinning up the apps.
  11. What’s “in” and what’s “out”? All of these tools are open source with a support option offered by the company sponsoring the open source project. Is there a difference between free and supported versions? If so, what are the details?
  12. Availability of user-created add-ons. Are users actively creating add-ons for the system that help make your job easier? Does the project team or sponsoring org showcase these add-ons? More development, and development outside the chosen direction of the sponsor, is generally a good thing, just make certain you evaluate these add-ons carefully, as they don’t necessarily go through rigorous testing.
  13. Specialized support. If you use some variant hardware or OS, make certain the tools you choose to evaluate give you some path to implementation. A specialized NIC can wreak havoc with these tools if it is the primary connectivity of the box, for example. RAID cards are another area where support varies. Make sure you know if you can provide support for any unique bits in your environment – and how hard providing that support may be.

There will no doubt be other questions you want to ask, but this list should get you started when you’re gearing up evaluations. As always, your environment will dictate what questions I didn’t even think of, but you need to ask.

Overall, this market is coming to maturity, and the products are improving at a rapid pace. It’s a good time to be evaluating them, just make certain you’re asking the right questions.

Hopefully, by the end of your project, you’ll be on the beach sipping some cool beverage, and simply text “Reinstall server #42” when errors occur. But even if we’re not there yet, hopefully your life is made easier.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Don MacVittie

Don MacVittie is founder of Ingrained Technology, A technical advocacy and software development consultancy. He has experience in application development, architecture, infrastructure, technical writing,DevOps, and IT management. MacVittie holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Northern Michigan University, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

@DevOpsSummit Stories
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering management. To date, IBM has launched more than 50 cloud data centers that span the globe. He has been building advanced technology, delivering “as a service” solutions, and managing infrastructure services for the past 20 years.
The past few years have brought a sea change in the way applications are architected, developed, and consumed—increasing both the complexity of testing and the business impact of software failures. How can software testing professionals keep pace with modern application delivery, given the trends that impact both architectures (cloud, microservices, and APIs) and processes (DevOps, agile, and continuous delivery)? This is where continuous testing comes in. D
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the benefits of the cloud without losing performance as containers become the new paradigm.
Digital transformation is about embracing digital technologies into a company's culture to better connect with its customers, automate processes, create better tools, enter new markets, etc. Such a transformation requires continuous orchestration across teams and an environment based on open collaboration and daily experiments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alex Casalboni, Technical (Cloud) Evangelist at Cloud Academy, explored and discussed the most urgent unsolved challenges to achieve full cloud literacy in the enterprise world.
The 22nd International Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, to be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, brings together Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It’s clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. That means serverless is also changing the way we leverage public clouds. Truth-be-told, many enterprise IT shops were so happy to get out of the management of physical servers within a data center that many limitations of the existing public IaaS clouds were forgiven. However, now that we’ve lived a few years with public IaaS clouds, developers and CloudOps pros are giving a huge thumbs down to the ...
Kubernetes is an open source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Kubernetes was originally built by Google, leveraging years of experience with managing container workloads, and is now a Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) project. Kubernetes has been widely adopted by the community, supported on all major public and private cloud providers, and is gaining rapid adoption in enterprises. However, Kubernetes may seem intimidating and complex to learn. This is because Kubernetes is more of a toolset than a ready solution. Hence it’s essential to know when and how to apply the appropriate Kubernetes constructs.
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Among the proven benefits, DevOps is correlated with 20% faster time-to-market, 22% improvement in quality, and 18% reduction in dev and ops costs, according to research firm Vanson-Bourne. It is changing the way IT works, how businesses interact with customers, and how organizations are buying, building, and delivering software.
All clouds are not equal. To succeed in a DevOps context, organizations should plan to develop/deploy apps across a choice of on-premise and public clouds simultaneously depending on the business needs. This is where the concept of the Lean Cloud comes in - resting on the idea that you often need to relocate your app modules over their life cycles for both innovation and operational efficiency in the cloud.
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throughout enterprises of all sizes.
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile exhibited at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on quality and value. Based in Bellevue, Washington, T-Mobile US provides services through its subsidiaries and operates its flagship brands, T-Mobile and MetroPCS. For more information, visit https://www.t-mobile.com.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cedexis will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cedexis is the leader in data-driven enterprise global traffic management. Whether optimizing traffic through datacenters, clouds, CDNs, or any combination, Cedexis solutions drive quality and cost-effectiveness. For more information, please visit https://www.cedexis.com.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Google Cloud has been named “Keynote Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Companies come to Google Cloud to transform their businesses. Google Cloud’s comprehensive portfolio – from infrastructure to apps to devices – helps enterprises innovate faster, scale smarter, stay secure, and do more with data than ever before.
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Jenny Hung, E2E Engineer Manager at Yahoo Gemini, Haoran Zhao, Software Engineer at Oath Gemini, and Lin Zhang, Software Engineer at Oath (Yahoo), will describe the technical challenges and the principles we followed to build a reliable and scalable test automation infrastructure across desktops, mobile apps, and mobile web platforms on the cloud. We also share some...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm. In their Day 3 Keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, a Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, and Mark Lavi, a Nutanix DevOps Solution Architect, explored the ways that Nutanix technologies empower teams to react faster than ever before and connect teams in ways that were either too complex or simply impossible with traditional infrastructures.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vivint to exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California. As a leading smart home technology provider, Vivint offers home security, energy management, home automation, local cloud storage, and high-speed Internet solutions to more than one million customers throughout the United States and Canada. The end result is a smart home solution that saves you time and money and ultimately simplifies your life.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Opsani will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Opsani is the leading provider of deployment automation systems for running and scaling traditional enterprise applications on container infrastructure.
Every few years, a disruptive force comes along that prompts us to reframe our understanding of what something means, or how it works. For years, the notion of what a computer is and how you make one went pretty much unchallenged. Then virtualization came along, followed by cloud computing, and most recently containers. Suddenly the old rules no longer seemed to apply, or at least they didn’t always apply. These disruptors made us reconsider our IT worldview.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Nirmata will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Nirmata provides a comprehensive platform, for deploying, operating, and optimizing containerized applications across clouds, powered by Kubernetes. Nirmata empowers enterprise DevOps teams by fully automating the complex operations and management of application containers and its underlying resources. Nirmata not only simplifies deployment and management of Kubernetes clusters but also facilitates delivery and operations of applications by continuously monitoring the application and infrastructure for changes, and auto-tuning the application based on pre-defined policies. Using Nirmata, enterprises can accelerate their journey towards becoming cloud-native.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Opsani to exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California. Opsani is creating the next generation of automated continuous deployment tools designed specifically for containers. How is continuous deployment different from continuous integration and continuous delivery? CI/CD tools provide build and test. Continuous Deployment is the means by which qualified changes in software code or architecture are automatically deployed to production as soon as they are ready. Adding continuous deployment to your toolchain is the final step to providing push button deployment for your developers.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will discuss how from store operations and optimization to employee training and insights, all ultimately create the best customer experience both online and in-store.
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous architectural and coordination work to minimize the volatility of the cloud environment and leverage the security features of the cloud to the benefit of the CICD pipeline.