Saturday, September 26, 2009

How Do You Create Config Files Automatically?

"When deploying new server/servergroup/cluster to your IT infrastructure, deployment (simplified) consist of following steps: OS installation: to do it over network, boot server must be configured for this new server/servergroup/cluster; configuration/package management: configuration server has to be aware of the newcomer(s); monitoring and alerting: monitoring software must be reconfigured; and performance metrics: a tool for collecting data must be reconfigured. There are many excellent software solutions for those particular jobs, say configuration management (Puppet, Chef, cfengine, bcfg2), monitoring hosts and services (Nagios, Zabbix, OpenNMS, Zenoss, etc) and performance metrics (Ganglia, etc.). But each of these tools has to be configured independently or at least configuration has to be generated. What tools do you use to achieve this? For example, when you have to deploy a new server, how do you create configs for, let's say, PXE boot server, Puppet, Nagios and Ganglia, at once?"

Actually this is one of the goals VMWare is proposing to meet with their vSphere. vCenter, ad nauseum initiatives. [full disclosure I've beta'ed VMWare software since v1]. This also presupposes full P2V, V2P cross machine conversions if required. The goal here is be anywhere, and run anywhere.

Now if I had the money, I'd toss full de-dup into the storage array mix as well, so much of the image file size essentially disappears unless there is simply no duplication anywhere. And if you are in that situation, take my advice. Quit, or just shoot yourself and get it over with.

It's been a long time since I played at that level (six mainframes, eighteen mini's, 575 desktops, and I never got an accurate count of the 100+ laptops) but at some point you have to ask yourself, when does the customization end? Standardization was the only thing that kept myself and my team of four !relatively! sane.

If you seriously need customization of that level, then you aren't doing things right. Reduce each VM to a single app (Apache, MySQL, IIS, network appliance, whatever) and use virtual switches to create a topology as required. Think of each VM as a particular Lego block, or IC: Systems Componentization as it were. And this is where de-dupe will also shine.

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