Puppet Labs wants to orchestrate all the things

As applications become ever more complex, there is an increasing need to model and visualize the interrelations and interdependencies within them. Puppet's new approach speaks to this.

puppeteer concept 104870858
Credit: Thinkstock

Amazon Web Services (AWS) will hold its annual user conference in Las Vegas next week. Since AWS is the undisputed (well, undisputed by most anyway) leader in the public cloud, the next week is obviously a big time for cloud-related product announcements. If you're a public cloud player or have a hybrid cloud story to tell, the next week sees you rushing to get press releases out the door.

Puppet Labs is no exception. The company is all about modern IT automation, which means that it needs to allow system administrators to manage not only public cloud infrastructure, but also more traditional infrastructures as well. Puppet Labs software is used by a who's who of corporate America, including Bank of America, NYSE, Salesforce.com, and WebEx. The company is based in Portland, Oregon, employs nearly 400 people, and is backed by some big names of technology investing: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Google Ventures, VMware, Cisco, True Ventures, Radar Partners, and Emerson Street Partners.

Puppet is using this week to announce a new approach to system management, Puppet Automation Orchestration. The idea of the product is to provide a complete management stack on a single platform. The idea of the platform is to allow users to model complicated applications and application stacks as Puppet code in order to roll out new infrastructure and applications quickly and reliably.

It's a natural enough development. If we think about the first generation of infrastructure automation, it was all about systematizing the creation and management of individual infrastructure elements. The next generation, therefore, takes this same recipe-based approach, but applies it to the more complex problem of entire application architectures.

The overarching macro reasons for this sort of move are obvious. Recent research from IDC showed that traditional IT administration teams spend 40% of their time simply managing new service requests, provisioning systems and applying patches. That's inefficient and a barrier to rapid innovation. By coordinating not only infrastructure but further up the stack into application configuration, Puppet is helping organizations innovate.

"Over the past several years, Puppet's model-based approach has become the standard for modern infrastructure management. Puppet Application Orchestration is a direct extension of our existing strengths and technologies, adding new tools and capabilities that give our customers a full management stack, from bare metal all the way up to modern distributed applications," said Luke Kanies, founder and CEO of Puppet Labs. "Because Application Orchestration is built on the core concepts underlying our past 10 years of success, and can use any of the 3,500 public Forge modules, any team using Puppet has an unfair advantage over competitors who can't deploy as quickly."

The solution will be generally available later this year and is included as part of the Puppet enterprise license. In addition, application modeling will become part of the broader open source Puppet project. Final word comes from a customer who spends their days in the trenches of modern enterprise IT:

"Application orchestration will drive the next phase of DevOps maturity, where the business, app dev and ops all align around what delivers the most value to the business — the application and the business process," said Nate Loomis, DevOps manager at Wells Fargo. "Being able to model, test, audit and orchestrate multi-tier applications and infrastructure all in one place across multiple workgroups will be critical for large enterprise organizations as they enter then next phase of automation."

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