Essential Guide

Top tools and techniques for VMware automation

A comprehensive collection of articles, videos and more, hand-picked by our editors

Puppet, VMware bring DevOps automation tools to vCenter

New automation tools from Puppet aim to introduce VMware admins to the world of DevOps, but programming knowledge remains a barrier for some IT pros.

DevOps automation tools can be tremendously useful in virtualized data centers, but their reliance on coding skills...

has caused limited adoption. New tools from Puppet Labs and VMware aim to ease more virtualization users into this emerging world.

DevOps tools can save significant time by automating common, repeatable tasks, such as provisioning virtual machines (VMs) and configuring hosts. They require some programming and development knowledge, however, and that takes time for IT operations staff to learn.

"I find myself in a sort of chicken and egg situation," said Rod Gabriel, an IT infrastructure engineer at United Financial Services Inc. in Grafton, Wisconsin. "It takes some time to ramp up."

The major vendors in the DevOps community, including Puppet Labs and Opscode, offer enterprise versions of their software that cut down the amount of programming involved. Still, "you're probably going to have to write some of [the code] yourself," said Bob Plankers, a virtualization and cloud architect at a large Midwestern university.

Puppet, VMware release DevOps automation tools

The new tools from Puppet Labs and VMware Inc., released last week, automate vCenter initialization, VMware High Availability and Distributed Resource Scheduler configuration and ESXi host cluster management. A second set of tools automates various vShield Manager tasks.

"VMware admins that have not played with Puppet need a way to start," said Nicholas Weaver, a VMware automation architect, in a blog post about the tools.

Plankers called these tools a "good first step."

Traditionally, data center administrators configured every physical server individually and had no easy way to keep track of changes and updates made over time. The rise of virtualization amplified the problem, despite the availability of deployment templates, as the number of VMs steadily rose and they began to outlive their physical counterparts. The new Puppet VMware automation tools address some of those challenges, Plankers said.

"You move from having a whole collection of individual servers to a cluster of servers that you know is configured correctly," he said.

DevOps automation tools improve reliability, because changes made to a VM or host can have negative consequences if not applied consistently. To attain that goal, however, operations teams need to become more familiar with development and vice versa, said Chris Wolf, a research vice president at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc.

More on DevOps automation tools

Businesses can grow as workload automation evolves

DevOps, Opscode chef automate auction site's cloud

Will DevOps simplify network automation?

"There's still a complete disconnect between IT ops and development," he said. "Some ops teams don't even understand the concept of what tools like Puppet are trying to achieve."

Meanwhile, Gabriel said he'd like to see tools that address the more pressing needs of his organization, which has 10 ESX hosts and will grow from 200 to 350 VMs by the end of this year.

"We're a small enough, static environment that the need isn't necessarily there to automate [configuration management]," he said. "Patching [VMs] is more time-consuming. It has to be more automated."

Wolf cautioned that IT pros don't need to automate everything, however.

"They just have to automate the right things," he said.

The new tools are part of Puppet Labs and VMware's plans to integrate Puppet with VMware's management products -- an initiative launched in January when VMware invested $30 million in Puppet.

VMware also has its own configuration management technology, Host Profiles. Many customers were not impressed by the feature when it debuted in 2010, and problems remain.

"Host Profiles are weak; they're buggy; they don't work very well," Plankers said.

PRO+

Content

Find more PRO+ content and other member only offers, here.

Essential Guide

Top tools and techniques for VMware automation

Join the conversation

4 comments

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

having to learn puppet and powershell at the same time is an issue - not that I do not want to but we run lean and taking that much time to dedicate to learning is a challenge
Cancel
Some ops know bash programming, devops should focus on that rather than on more higher level languages like ruby. Use what you have at the moment but also provide the tools for integration in any programming language.

Even if I have a bunch of good ops guys that can learn ruby, it is going to increase my ops cost by having to get better people all the time to understand the code written by others and I end up increasing my operational costs rather than reducing them.
Cancel
Learning puppet, powershell and another programming language - adds hours to a day that is already 24 hours too short. Hopefully new automated tools and the new relationship between puppet labs and VMWare will bring order to the chaos we now face. The bugs have to be worked out - so we have at least 18 months before we get anything really useful. Until then -
Cancel
Learning to code well takes years, and so requires enough interest ( passion ) to maintain commitment over the long term. And many techs who've made it this far without learning to script, don't want to learn. And these are the folks who should be initiating the movement!
Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

SearchVMware

SearchWindowsServer

SearchCloudComputing

SearchVirtualDesktop

SearchDataCenter

Close