Key founders of Puppet have incorporated and received $2 million in venture capital funding to advance the open source configuration management software project.
Reductive Labs, which has evolved from the same named consulting firm founded in 2003, will provide training, service and support for Puppet, the next generation open source infrastructure automation framework which is reportedly gaining strength and numbers of users.
Reductive has formed partnerships with Red Hat, Fedora and Canonical and has about 20 paying customers. Puppet currently supports Linux, Unix and Macintosh environments.
Puppet, which was first made available under the GPL in 2005, is a configuration management framework that enables customers to write policies about how web servers should be configured, how database servers should be configured and how mail servers should be configured," said Andrew Shafer, chief strategy officer for Reductive Labs, which will be headquartered in Portland, Oregon. "Puppet lets you write policies, enforce them and automate them on an ongoing basis and operating system installation through patches and upgrades."
Shafer said it's important to have a robust policy-based configuration framework that can significantly speed up deployment of corporate servers. He noted that policy-based tools are valuable because few servers are configured in the exact same way in any corporation.
He pointed out that configuration management becomes even more critical as virtualization and cloud computing take off.
"With virtualization, your hardware headache eases but with thousands of virtual machines you've multiplied your configuration management complexities," said Shafer. "People are bringing up thousands of [virtual] machines with EC2 [cloud] and configuration management complexity is further magnified. Bringing up a test infrastructure or a deployment infrastructure becomes a much easier proposition than trying to manage it in other ways."
One senior systems engineer at Digg.com was able to rebuild 60 [virtual] machines from scratch in two hours [using Puppet] that would have taken two full days of work if done manually. "And I was largely a spectator," said that engineer, Paul Lathrop, of Digg. "Now that's automation."
"And if he needed to build 600 machines, it wouldn't have taken much longer," because of the policy-based configuration management approach, Shafer said.
Its biggest competitor is amorphous: thousands of unique scripts system administrators write for their own environments, Shafer said. There are some model-based configuration management frameworks developed by BMC's BladeLogic and HP's Opsware but nothing in the open source space that compares to Puppet, Shafer said.
Reductive has no plans to commercialize the framework into a product per se and will focus exclusively on the services side of the business. Puppet 0.25 is currently in beta testing and represents a huge step forward: three times the speed in one third of the memory footprint of the current 0.24 series.
"It's a way of managing images, a policy-based tool that is good for the complexities multiplied by cloud computing and virtualization," he added.
Digant C Kasundra, Technical Lead of ITS Unix Systems and Applications at Stanford University, said Puppet does not support Windows but is valuable tool for other top OS environments. "It is definitely useful for an enterprise but our use at Stanford University is limited to Linux," Kasundra wrote in an email response. "We use it to manage systems running Red Hat, Debian and Ubuntu. I am familiar with places using it for Mac OS X as well."