Technology Primers

Does simplicity give Ansible an edge over similar tools?

What took me three blog posts for Chef, I can describe in one for Ansible. Like Chef and Puppet, Ansible is a configuration management tool that helps us with automating repetitive tasks like deploying packages or applications to groups of servers. Ansible was released in 2012 and is relatively new compared to Puppet, released in 2006, and Chef, released in 2009.

A few years makes a big difference in technology nowadays. For a frame of reference, consider how many new tools have come out recently. In this week’s New York Cloud Expo, a speaker from CoreOS described 18 new and potentially very useful tools that have become available in the past two years. With so many cloud tools available, which ones will gain traction? This post discusses Ansible, which may gain in popularity because of its simplicity. (more…)

Chef and OpenStack Part 1 – Key Concepts

Similar to OpenStack, Chef is a tool that brings technologies used by web-scale companies to the mainstream. OpenStack enables us to dynamically deploy thousands of virtual machine instances. Chef enables the automated configuration of those instances and is inspired by the automation long used at both Amazon and Google. Chef has become one of the more popular configuration management tools and cloud services like Amazon OpsWorks support Chef. Alternatives to Chef are Puppet, Ansible and Salt.

Chef provides a way to code infrastructure in “recipes”. The code, or recipes, can automate the setup, configuration, deployment and management of virtual servers in a cloud. To better understand the value of Chef, consider the operational tasks a system admin would have to do. These tasks become daunting as the number of VMs increases. (more…)

Is OpenStack and VMware like cattle and pets?

While OpenStack is primed to transform enterprise IT, enterprises still have a lot of questions today. One popular topic is how OpenStack compares with VMware. Perhaps the best analogy that I have heard to explain OpenStack to vSphere skilled staff is that of cattle and pets. vSphere servers are likened to pets that are given names, uniquely cared for and nursed back to health when sick. OpenStack servers are likened to cattle, which get random identification numbers, cared for as a group and are replaced when ill. Figure 1 below shows an excellent slide from a Gavin McCance presentation. For network technologist, another good analogy that I have seen compares OpenStack to UDP and VMware to TCP.

Is the enterprise ready for OpenStack?
In addition to asking how OpenStack compares to vSphere, many also want to know if OpenStack is ready for the enterprise. Perhaps the better question would be, is the enterprise ready for OpenStack? To get the most benefit out of an OpenStack private cloud, or a public cloud like Amazon Web Services, enterprise applications need to be optimized. Applications would need to have a cloud native architecture. (more…)

A technical primer on the cloud application architectures that are driving enterprise IT transformation

In a September, 2013 blog post titled “Cloud IaaS market share and the developer-centric world”, Gartner analyst Lydia Leong wrote “it’s taken until this past year before most of the ‘enterprise class’ vendors acknowledge the legitimacy of the power that developers now hold”. More and more, developers are becoming the new enterprise Information Technology (IT) buyers. Why are application architectures changing? How are applications changing? What are some cloud application architecture patterns? This blog post will explore answers to these questions.

Cloud is changing the economics of IT and application developers are entering the new frontier of cloud applications. Once upon a time, hardware was a scare resource and maximizing hardware usage drove decisions. Today, compute resources are plentiful as cloud platforms present a seemingly infinite amount of compute resource to developers. In this new frontier, the limits will be our imagination and not compute resource. (more…)