Talking about Chef and Unicorns – DevOps Days Austin

May 13, 2014

Today is the second of three entries focused on configuration management tools.  Today’s interview from last week’s DevOps Days is with Matt Ray from Chef.

Matt did a cool a presentation on the first day about how to introduce DevOps to traditional enterprises (see below) and I was able to grab him on the beginning of Day two to hear about his talk and the latest regarding Chef.

Some of the ground Matt covers

  • His talk about taking DevOps into the traditional enterprise “Helping horses become unicorns” (see presentation below)
  • Recent announcements from ChefCon e.g. Chef Metal etc
  • How they will be participating in this week’s OpenStack conference
  • Some of the traditional enterprises using Chef e.g.  Nordstroms, Target, GE

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


DevOpsDays Austin — The provisioning panel starring JuJu, Crowbar, Puppet, Chef and Pallet

April 11, 2012

Last week DevOpsDays was held here in Austin.  It sold out in about day after it was announced and had a big waiting list.  The two-day event, which was held at National Instruments (who did an awesome job as host), featured talks and panels in the mornings and “open space” discussions in the afternoons.

The panel on the first day,  moderated by John Willis, was entitled: Provisioning Panel – Meet Juju, Crowbar, Puppet, Chef, Pallet + discussion.  After the panel I caught up with each of the members for a follow-up chat.  Here they are:

Juju – Mark Mimms of Canonical

Crowbar – Rob Booth of Zenoss

Puppet – Dan Bode of Puppet Labs

Chef – Matt Ray of Opscode

Pallet – Antoni Batchelli of Pallet Ops

Stay tuned for more DevOpsDays goodness in the days to come!

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Opscode visits

January 10, 2012

This afternoon Matt Ray, Technical Evangelist for Opscode, stopped by Dell’s Round Rock HQ to brief a gaggle of folks on what they are up to.  Cote arranged the visit as well as one last month with Puppet labs, which I unfortunately wasn’t able to make.

After Matt, with some help from teammates on the phone, briefed the Dell gang I grabbed some time with him to get the 5 minute Reader’s Digest version.  Here is the result.

Some of the ground Matt covers:

  • What are Opscode and Chef?
  • How did they come to be?
  • The hosted version of Chef (moving from EC2 to Rackspace)
  • Crowbar: lending a helping hand
  • What’s next for Opscode and what do they have up their sleeve for 2012?

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Dell to opensource software to ease Hadoop install & management

November 8, 2011

It wouldn’t be surprising if you were surprised to learn that Dell is developing software.  To say that this is an area we haven’t been known for in the past would be an understatement.  While we may not pose a direct threat to Microsoft any time soon, we have been coding in a few focused areas.  One of those areas is cloud installation and management and is represented by our project Crowbar.  While Crowbar began life simply as a way to install Openstack on Dell hardware, it has expanded from there.

Today’s news is that we have developed and will be opensourcing “barclamps” (modules that sit on top of crowbar) for: Cloudera CDH/Enterprise, Zookeeper, Pig, Hbase, Flume and Sqoop.  All these modules will speed and ease the deployment, configuration and operation of Hadoop clusters.  But don’t take my word for it.  Take a listen to Crowbar’s architect Rob Hirschfeld as he explains Crowbar and today’s announcement:

Look for the code on Crowbar GitHub repo by the last week of November.  If you want to get involved, learn how.

Extra-credit reading:

Pau for now…


Crowbar: Where its been and where its going

October 24, 2011

Rob Hirschfeld, aka “Commander Crowbar,” recently posted a blog entry looking back at how Crowbar came to be, how its grown and where he hopes it will go from here.

What’s a Crowbar?

If you’re not familiar with Crowbar, its an open source software framework that began life as an installation tool to speed installation of OpenStack on Dell hardware.  The project incorporates the Opscode Chef Server tool and was originally created here at Dell by Rob and Greg Althaus.  Just four short months ago at OSCON 2011 the project took a big step forward when, along with the announcement of our OpenStack solution, we announced that we were opensourcing it.

DevOps-ilicous

As Rob points out in his blog, as we were delivering Crowbar as an installer a collective light bulb went off and we realized the role that Chef and tools like it play in a larger movement taking place in many Web shops today: the movement of DevOps.

The DevOps approach to deployment builds up systems in a layered model rather than using packaged images…Crowbar’s use of a DevOps layered deployment model provides flexibility for BOTH modularized and integrated cloud deployments.

On beyond installation and OpenStack

As the team began working more with Crowbar, it occurred to them that its use could be expanded in two ways: it could be used to do more than installation and it could be expanded to work with projects beyond OpenStack.

As for functionality, Crowbar now not only installs and configures but once the initial deployment is complete, Crowbar can be used to maintain, expand, and architect the instance, including BIOS configuration, network discovery, status monitoring, performance data gathering, and alerting.

The first project beyond OpenStack that we used Crowbar on was Hadoop.  In order to expand Crowbar’s usage we created the concept of  “barclamps” which are in essence modules that sit on top of the basic Crowbar functionality.  After we created the Hadoop barclamp, others picked up the charge and VMware created a Cloud Foundry barclamp and DreamHost created a Ceph barclamp.

It takes a community

Crowbar development has recently been moved out into the open.  As Rob explains,

This change was reflected in our work on OpenStack Diablo (+ Keystone and Dashboard) with contributions by Opscode and Rackspace Cloud Builders.  Rather than work internally and push updates at milestones, we are now coding directly from the Crowbar repositories on Github.

So what are you waiting for?  Join our mailing list, download the code or ISO, create a barclamp, make your voice heard.  Who’s next?

Extra-credit reading:

Pau for now…


Dell announces availability of OpenStack solution; Open sources “Crowbar” software framework

July 26, 2011

Today at OSCON we are announcing the availability of the Dell OpenStack Cloud Solution along with the open sourcing of the code behind our Crowbar software framework.

The Solution

Dell has been a part of the OpenStack community since day one a little over a year ago and today’s news represents the first available cloud solution based on the OpenStack platform.  This Infrastructure-as-a-service solution includes a reference architecture based on Dell PowerEdge C servers, OpenStack open source software, the Dell-developed Crowbar software and services from Dell and Rackspace Cloud Builders.

Crowbar, keeping things short and sweet

Bringing up a cloud can be no mean feat, as a result a couple of our guys began working on a software framework that could be used to quickly (typically before coffee break!) bring up a multi-node OpenStack cloud on bare metal.   That framework became Crowbar.  What Crowbar does is manage the OpenStack deployment from the initial server boot to the configuration of the primary OpenStack components, allowing users to complete bare metal deployment of multi-node OpenStack clouds in a matter of hours (or even minutes) instead of days.

Once the initial deployment is complete, Crowbar can be used to maintain, expand, and architect the complete solution, including BIOS configuration, network discovery, status monitoring, performance data gathering, and alerting.

Code to the Community

As mentioned above, today Dell has released Crowbar to the community as open source code (you can get access to it the project’s GitHub site).  The idea is allow  users to build functionality to address their specific system needs.  Additionally we are working with the community to submit Crowbar as a core project in the OpenStack initiative.

Included in the Crowbar code contribution is the barclamp list, UI and remote API’s, automated testing scripts, build scripts, switch discovery, open source Chef server.  We are currently working with our legal team to determine how to release the BIOS and RAID which leverage third party components.  In the meantime since it is free (as in beer) software, although Dell cannot distribute it, users can directly go the vendors and download the components for free to get that functionality.

More Crowbar detail

For those who want some more detail, here are some bullets I’ve grabbed from Rob “Mr. Crowbar” Hirschfeld’s blog:

Important notes:

  • Crowbar uses Chef as it’s database and relies on cookbooks for node deployments
  • Crowbar has a modular architecture so individual components can be removed, extended, and added. These components are known individually as “barclamps.”
  • Each barclamp has it’s own Chef configuration, UI subcomponent, deployment configuration, and documentation.

On the roadmap:

  • Hadoop support
  • Additional operating system support
  • Barclamp version repository
  • Network configuration
  • We’d like suggestions!  Please comment on Rob’s blog!

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Structure: Learning about DevOps & Crowbar from Jesse Robbins

June 27, 2011

Last week on Day two of Structure the morning sessions ended with an  interesting discussion moderated by James Urquhart.  The session was entitled “DevOps – Reinventing the Developers Role in the Cloud Age” and featured Luke Kanies – CEO, Puppet Labs and Jesse Robbins – Co-Founder and CEO, Opscode.

After lunch I ran into Jesse and got him to sit down with me and provide some more insight into DevOps as well as explain what Opscode was doing with project Crowbar.

Some of the ground Jesse covers

  • (0:21) What is DevOps
  • (1:00) The shift that happens between developers and operations.  Writing code and getting it into production faster and how it shifts responsibilities between the two groups.
  • (2:52) Who are the prime targets for DevOps and how has this changed over time.
  • How DevOps began in web shops who needed to do things differently than legacy-bound enterprises.
  • How enterprises faced with greenfield opportunities are now embracing devops
  • (5:36) The crowbar installer which employs Opscode’s Chef and allows the rapid provisioning of an OpenStack cloud.

Extra-credit reading:


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