Wired's Cade Metz just published an interesting piece on the Puppet and Chef projects, open source-based online services for automating IT operations. (Chef is also available on-premises.) Such services, as paraphrased in the article, Luke Kanies, the creator of Puppet, help "provide Google-like IT automation for the rest of us."
Some of the largest IT operations around are reportedly tapping into the capabilities offered through Puppet and Chef. Consider the observations of Jason Stowe, CEO of Cycle Computing, as quoted in the Wired article:
"Chef and Puppet automatically set up and tweak the operating systems and programs that run in massive data centers and the new-age 'cloud' services, designed to replace massive data centers. But Stowe argues that much like the iPod finally brought digital music to the average Joe, Chef and Puppet have at long last taken IT automation mainstream. 'There were music players before the iPod, but the iPod was the first one to get it right,' says Stowe, the CEO of Cycle Computing, a Greenwich, Connecticut-based startup that uses Chef to manage the software underpinning the online 'supercomputing' service it offers to big businesses and academic outfits."
Puppet Labs' Puppet Enterprise 2.0 (the latest iteration) is designed to provide "operational agility, efficiency and insight for managing dynamic infrastructure, on-premise or in the cloud." The platform enables users to increase capacity with rapid provisioning of VMware and Amazon EC2 instances and migrate applications across private and public clouds, as well as orchestrate critical tasks across clusters of nodes.
Opscode's Chef is an open-source systems integration framework built specifically for automating the cloud. Chef is intended to make it easier to deploy servers and scale applications throughout an entire infrastructure. The platform combines the fundamental elements of configuration management and service oriented architectures with the power of Ruby in hopes of creating "an elegant, fully automated infrastructure."