Lessons Learned, Discoveries Made: PuppetConf2017

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Led by software company Puppet, known for its configuration management tool that allows anyone to automate and manage services with code, PuppetConf gathers industry experts and enthusiasts during its annual event to explore and drive change across infrastructure, teams, and cultures. The tech landscape is continually shifting, so “new” is just part of the process. FINE DevOps Engineer Charlie Pitkin attended the conference for a second year — this time, with particular questions in mind.


What do organizations similar in size to FINE do to help manage different sites for many clients, while maintaining high-touch service on a budget?

Automate everything. Sounds obvious considering it’s the conference’s focus, but taking lessons learned from bigger companies that scale differently than FINE can yield new information. Though responses included slow adoption and wavering developer buy-in, the overall message was the same: start experimenting with automation.

How do companies use containers to enable their developers to more rapidly build on their local machines?

Leigh Capili from Beatport gave a great talk about reducing environmental drift with containers. Using containers for local development has been a back-burner task for a couple years. At the time, doing local Docker development was clunky with no OSX native support, and tooling wasn’t quite there yet. Leigh’s talk inspired a foray into experimentation, and the FINE project is currently in full swing, as FINE developers will be using containers to eliminate local dependency management in the next couple of months.

How can Puppet be leveraged to build containers, and how does that affect its future?

FINE is very much a Puppet shop. Puppet is working to bring container building up to snuff, but several issues remain to be solved. How do you limit build sizes that don’t need to include Puppet agents in the container itself? What are some easy ways to integrate with networking and CI to maintain the flow, without requiring a complex setup? Scott Coulton from Puppet helped develop Kream to get developers up and running with a local k8s cluster faster, but the team is aware that the community would love to make Puppet a real part of their container building workflow, while making container configuration easier.

Thanks to all the great speakers at this year’s PuppetConf for the insights and inspiration.

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