I met Brad Heller and Carl Hall from Cloudability’s dev team. Both had fun cloud-management war stories from the trenches of the start-up battle. Their summer intern, Colby Aley, showed me his awesome "company dashboard" project. My team’s summer intern also made a corporate dashboard, so apparently it’s the new hot side-project. I also met Lindsay Smith, a fellow PDX tech meet-up enthusiast, and we compared notes on the most interesting local user groups.
What I Learned
The two main styles of DevOps platforms are Imperative (listing out each step for building a new server) and Declarative (say what you want on the new server, the tool will figure out how to make it happen). Some tools like Puppet and Chef have a custom DSL (domain specific language) and a steep learning curve, but are very powerful once mastered. Other tools, like Ansible, are helpful additions to existing custom scripts. They do a few things well, and are easy to integrate if you already have scripts that automate your deployment.
One example of how these tools are different was the management of secret passwords (SSH keys). The more mature tools like Puppet and Chef had solutions for moving around private keys, which ensure access security on your brand new servers. For the more light-weight tools like Ansible, they had to use "Sneakernet" to walk the keys over to a co-workers workstation.
I’m a DevOps novice, so I learned a ton. Most of the tools discussed helped with automating deployment on Linux. Even though my company develops mainly for Windows server, the high-level DevOps concepts are applicable to any OS. Also, I noticed that Puppet and Chef both offer Windows support.
It’s nice that Puppet Labs, another local company, is such a major player in the emerging DevOps tool market. Several employees from Puppet attended and offered their insider perspective on various tools and features. If you’re a DevOps newbie like me, I highly recommend swinging by pdxdevops. Their monthly meetings are listed on Calagator, and they announce the agenda on their Google Group. They also mentioned that the upcoming DevOps Day conference (Nov. 4-5th) will be a great place to learn more.
I’m presently touring around Romania, but right after I return to the states TAO is hosting Ignite Health at OHSU. All the lightning talks will be related to healthcare software. I’m definitely planning to attend and several of my Kryptiq co-workers will be there too.