[CentOS] Spacewalk or Puppet?

Karanbir Singh mail-lists at karan.org
Fri Nov 6 10:15:49 UTC 2009

On 11/04/2009 10:05 PM, nate wrote:
> Our monitoring is primarily nagios+cacti which are maintained by
> hand currently. Myself I have literally tens of thousands of hours
> invested in monitoring scripts mostly integrating with RRDTool for
> performance and trending analysis.

You say a lot with just that statement there - its a place we've all 
been at, and its the one issue that some of these tools around *today* 
help with.

Essentially, every admin has been down the route of setting up a bunch 
of machines and then working away at them, investing large portions of 
time with regular admin tasks - like writing scripts to manage small 
bits of state, writing some sort of config rollouts, doing some 
post-install tests etc etc. The list can go on and on. The important 
thing here really is that weve *all* done that - and a *large* portion 
of what we were trying to do was common in most scenarios. But there was 
never really any traction around any single community, that would 
encourage people to come together - talk about these things - and then 
move on creating tool sets that work for people.

To me, this is a major contribution by some of these tools today - 
spacewalk, puppet, cfengine, chef, bcfg2, slack : all becoming focal 
groups - even if they only address specific use-cases or only address 
certain mindsets / thought process's. The main thing is that people are 
talking and whats coming from those talks are more capable and better 
written tools that, kind of now, mean that it may no longer be necessary 
to spend those hours and hours working out of a silo doing the sort of 
work that we were doing in the past. On the flip side, people argue that 
doing the same level of work and working under the same conditions 
people are today producing a much better management system for their own 
use and for their users.

For example, if the monitoring tool is unable to accept tasks and report 
process from a tool, which in turn can be connected upto what the 
machine is actually supposed to be doing, its a monitoring tool that I 
dont even want to consider using. I'd rather have something which can 
let me write a snippet like:

Machine of type webserver needs:
- packages httpd, mod_ssl
- monitoring for port :80 and :443
   + if not working, run scriptX, if still not working, notify remote 
monitoring, and remove from production pool
- dir /var/www/html should exist and if file /var/www/app/.TAG does not 
exist : notify {deploymentmachine} that {thismachine} needs app rollout
- if all is good, run pre-production tests, if all pass, get us / keep 
us in the production pool

Make machine1,machine2,machine3 a webserver

The advantage from this is that various bits of the descriptive code 
could be used in various options and scenarios. Compare that to having 
to go around to each machine and doing things on each box, manually, 
every time.

Karanbir Singh
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