Four open source tools to help keep you cooking with Chef

If you’re even a little familiar with DevOps concepts, you’ve probably heard of Chef. If you’ve started experimenting with or implementing DevOps, there’s a pretty good chance you’re using Chef. Chef is an awesome platform for managing a DevOps environment, but it isn’t perfect. Thankfully, missing features or gaps in the capabilities of a platform like Chef are just opportunities for other developers to step in and save the day. For some organizations, that may be a double-edged sword. It can be overwhelming to investigate the myriad options out there, and to choose tools that add value, without also adding more complexity and headaches than they’re worth. Let’s take a closer look at four of the most popular open source tools you can use in conjunction with Chef to make your life easier. 1. Foodcritic One of the coolest things about Chef—at least from a geek humor perspective—is how the ...

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Microsoft strives to embrace open source culture

In many ways Microsoft is going through the corporate equivalent of a mid-life crisis—it has reached a stage where it longs to drop a few pounds, and turn back the clock a few years. After years of tremendous success, it’s now starting to show its age, and it is struggling to adapt to the new tech landscape and compete with younger, leaner, more innovative competitors. The shift began under ex-CEO Steve Ballmer. Ballmer’s approach, though, was misguided. Ballmer’s Microsoft suffered from hubris, and ignored the seismic shift in technology until it was too late. When Ballmer finally recognized the existential threat, and tried to turn the ship around, it was done from within the established bloated corporate culture. There was an effort to rearrange the chairs on the deck with a management reorganization, but it simply wasn’t enough. Then Satya Nadella took over. Nadella has a more aggressive vision. It’s ...

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An open-source pipeline for trusted images

There are a lot of good reasons to use a trusted image (aka “foundation image”), including reliability, reduced time to launch, secure configuration. [We’ve discussed them previously] In this article we are going to describe a development and quality assurance process for making trusted (aka “foundation” or “golden”) images. First, this is the tool set to be used. Source Control Keeps track of all your scripts. Images will be built 100% by scripts, not by manual keying. Therefore source control is essential. Virtual Machines You’ll need to periodically start from blank slate, when you make changes to your approach which are incompatible with the current state of your machine. Using virtual machines enables us to rapidly reset to a known state and re-apply scripts. Vagrant Vagrant is a virtualization tool that makes it easy to quickly launch and re-launch virtual machines, bootstrap virtual machines with base packages and ssh configuration, and ...

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User pragmatism is stronger than ever

This is the third of a series of posts about why we thought the world needed another DevOps oriented company and so invested in and started StackStorm.   I hope we are touching on general themes that can help others understand the rapid disruptive shift towards DevOps approaches to building and operating technology. When starting StackStorm we were inspired by OpenStack.  This week is the OpenStack summit and we are contributing heavily to some pieces of OpenStack, so we remain enthusiastic community members.  However, our third reason for StackStorm has to do with how we lost our naive perspective on OpenStack and understood it more as a symptom of a new, more enlightened approach to technology selection, development and operation. OpenStack is important – however, users are more pragmatic and agnostic than ever. OpenStack is the full stack plus, plus, plus; it is very different than almost every other open ...

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What Cisco’s OpFlex means for DevOps

Some big news in networking land at Interop this year revolved around Cisco’s latest contribution to open source and the Internet, its proposed “OpFlex” control plane protocol. The protocol itself is focused on communicating with network elements and specifies encoding in a variety of formats, including JSON, that are developer-friendly. That’s nice, of course, but the big question as someone interested in operations and devOps is why should you care about what appears to be a networking protocol? After all, beauty is only interface deep. What’s in it for you? To see where DevOps fits into the picture, consider the description of OpFlex as specified in the IETF draft of the OpFlex protocol: The OpFlex architecture provides a distributed control system based on a declarative policy information model. The policies are defined at a logically centralized policy repository (PR) and enforced within a set of distributed policy elements (PE). The ...

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DevOps Is Free? Sure I’ll Support It

One of the biggest misnomers about DevOps is that since it’s all about process and communications there aren’t any costs associated with adoption. Sure, you can probably gain some improvement by simply modifying your current methods for delivering IT services in your organization, however, DevOps is about more than just modest improvements. Let’s explore why organizations that are succeeding with DevOps are succeeding over traditional IT approaches. From the article, “Fresh Stats Comparing Traditional IT and DevOps-Oriented Productivity,” also on DevOps.com, we see that DevOps is driving down time spent on tasks where there is no value being added to the business, such as support, deploying changes, communication and firefighting. Time spent on these tasks reduce opportunities from innovation and responding to business needs, leading the business to view IT in an unfavorable manner unable to help them meet current business demands. Where DevOps-oriented teams do spend time is on ...

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Deployment and Monitoring Automation with glu

glu is a free/open source deployment and monitoring automation platform. glu is a project that was started at LinkedIn mid-2009 to address the exponentially growing needs of deploying the set of applications and services that make up the LinkedIn experience. Although some projects like Chef and Puppet existed at the time, they were mostly good at configuring the infrastructure (creating users, installing java, etc…). glu lives in a higher space: provisioning dynamic applications on an ensemble of machines (change often, real-time failure detection, etc…). glu is in the application deployment space First, let’s start with some definition: when I say application, I mean a piece of code that usually needs to run, and usually offers some form of api to talk to (which, at a lower level, is a socket listening on a port). Equivalent terminology is service or server. For example, a webapp server is an application. Although glu ...

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Netflix, the Simian Army, and the culture of freedom and responsibility

What do you do if you’re entire business relies on delivering streaming video content over the Web to millions of customers, and there are no examples to follow or tools to use? If you’re Netflix, you set the example and build the tools. Netflix had tremendous success with its original business model shipping movies on DVD to customers in trademark red envelopes. The precision of the shipping logistics, and the efficiency with which Netflix was able to meet user demand and ensure speedy delivery is a case study of its own. But, Netflix also saw the writing on the wall and became one of the first to embrace delivering movies via streaming video over the Internet. Networking protocols are fairly resilient, and able to get data from Point A to Point B eventually, but streaming content like audio or video is less forgiving. The data needs to be transferred at ...

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The Automation Continuum

The speed of innovation these days is often influenced by the speed of adoption of new and exciting tools, and specifically open source tools.  Open source projects have been growing at an exponential speed over the course of the past few years; however the process for exploring, testing, configuring, and ultimately integrating these in production often times is still quite complex and time consuming.  In many cases, this process is still done manually.  Like with all DevOps processes by automating this, we are then able to adopt new tooling much more quickly, and with less human error in the process. The Open Source Revolution   The friction in this process is due, in large part, to the fact that each of these stages from exploration through POC and testing, integration and then management, many times requires the use of very different tools for each stage, on top of a completely ...

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DevOps: It’s All Open Source’s Fault

Blame DevOps on open source. After all, it was the open source movement that gave developers the idea that they were free to code, free to build applications and other software for their companies without needing prior approval. It was open source that crowned developers kingmakers. It was open source that gave developers the freedom to not only write code, but also manage it. It was open source that gave us DevOps. DevOps: Freedom To Get Stuff Done Traditionally, IT operations has been a specialized task, an exclusive one that largely controlled the code allowed to run within the enterprise. Given the fact that all software had to be purchased before it could be run, there was little risk of developers or anyone else introducing rogue software into the hallowed halls of the data center. Enterprises were able to enforce policies because all software had to start with Purchasing and ...

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