Companies with large-scale deployments on Google’s cloud platform now have an easier way to configure and manage their virtual machine environments.
Google introduced a “click to deploy” option for the open-source Puppet utility for configuration management in the cloud. The feature is designed to make it simpler for systems administrators to quickly set up the tool on Google’s Compute Engine platform and use it to automate tasks like installing, configuring and upgrading software on virtual machines.
A one-click delete option on the click-to-deploy Web page makes it equally easy for administrators to bring down Puppet and delete the associated data disk when it is no longer needed, the company said.
This marks the first time that an IT automation tool has been made available as a click-to-deploy option in the cloud, said Nigel Kersten, CIO of Puppet Labs, in comments on the Google Cloud Platform Blog. “This solution lowers the time required to get a functional Puppet master up and running and is the first step toward fully automating the management of projects in Google Compute Engine,” Kersten said.
Puppet, which is used by more than 22,000 companies around the world, is designed to help systems administrators automate repetitive configuration management tasks using declarative language rather than procedural calls.
For instance, the tool allows administrators to simply declare which version of an operating system should be running on a set of virtual machines, rather than having to prescribe the specific steps needed to configure them, according to a Puppet Labs description of the utility. It then uses an agent/master model for distributing and enforcing the declared configuration rules.
Puppet Labs, which administers the open-source tool, maintains a repository of more than 3,100 modules that allow administrators to automate a wide range of other tasks such as setting up a database, Web or mail server.
The version of Puppet that Google has enabled with a one-click deploy option is open source and available for free. In addition, Puppet Labs also sells a commercial version of the software for businesses that want additional support with the product. The tool runs on all major Unix and Linux versions and also on Mac OS X and Windows.
“Whether you’re managing one virtual machine or thousands, Puppet can help make system configuration easier,” Pratul Dublish, technical program manager at Google, said while making the announcement on the Cloud Platform blog.
Puppet is one of several open-source tools that enterprises can use to manage their virtual server instances on Google Compute Engine. Other utilities include Chef, Salt and Ansible.
The tools enable companies to automate a range of operational tasks, such as quickly creating and tearing down virtual machines; configuring load balancing; installing, configuring and upgrading software, disks and firewalls; and monitoring and running virtual machines.
Other cloud vendors offer similar capabilities. Amazon, for example, has AWS CloudFormation while VMWare offers a tool called vRealize Configuration Manager for helping companies configure and manage large-scale cloud deployments. Like Google’s collection of open-source tools, AWS CloudFormation allows enterprises to automate common cloud management tasks.