AWS CloudFormation gives developers and systems administrators an easy way to create and manage a collection of related AWS resources, provisioning and updating them in an orderly and predictable fashion. – AWS CloudFormation Homepage I’ve gone from never having used Amazon CloudFormation to building multi- tier, cross region, many availability zone deployments in a couple of months and while digging through official documentation, support requests, blog posts and sample templates I’ve put together what I’ve come to view as the ‘Four Stages of CloudFormation’. Read on →

Ever since they started the Velocity Conference in the US I’ve wanted to attend one and this year I finally made it to the Santa Clara Velocity (2013). I was lucky enough to attend a tutorial in each of the four slots: Monitoring and Observability - Theo Schlossnagle Bits on the Wire - Mark Nottingham Using Amazon Web Services for MySQL at Scale - Laine Campbell Managing PostgreSQL with Ansible in EC2 - Jay Edwards I attended Mark and Theos talks based on upon previous experience of them as presenters. Read on →

While Puppet may get all the glory, Facter, the hard working information gathering library that can, seldom gets much exciting new functionality. However with the release of Facter 1.7 Puppetlabs have standardised and included a couple of useful facter enhancements that make it easier than ever to add custom facts to your puppet runs. These two improvements come under the banner of ‘External Facts’. The first allows you to surface your own facts from a static file, either plain text key value pairs or a specific YAML / JSON format. Read on →

Over time parts of your puppet manifests will become unneeded. You might move a cronjob or a users in to a package or no longer need a service to be enabled after a given release. I’ve recently had this use case and had two options - either rely on comments in the Puppet code and write an out of band tool to scan the code base and present a report or add them to the puppet resources themselves. Read on →

Reviewing the second edition of Cisco Routers for the Desperate was quite hard for me as I have very little to add to the Cisco Routers for the Desperate 1st edition review I posted a few years ago. After reading through this update pretty much all those comments still stand. It’s an excellent, useful, well written book and the author still has a -distinct- written tone. I enjoyed the book; I must have considering I bought the second edition! Read on →

Well, that’s another FOSDEM over with. In general this year seemed the same as the last couple of years but slightly bigger than usual (although it seems that way every year). The (newish) K building was in full swing with dozens of project stalls and dev rooms. The usual suspects - virtualisation / cloud, configuration management and MySQL rooms had nearly as many people trying to get in to the rooms as they did sitting down. Read on →

It’s been a while since I’ve attended a Puppet Camp but considering the quality of the last one (organised by Patrick Debois) and the fact it was being held in the lovely city of Ghent again I thought it’d be a wise investment to scrape together the time off. The quality of the talks seemed quite high and considering the number of newer users present the content level was well pitched. Read on →

With a title like Resilience and Reliability on AWS I had quite high expectations for this slim book. Unfortunately, they were not met. The first four chapters provide brief introductions to AWS and some of its more popular services. While these were fine I’d point people looking for this level of information at the Amazon Webservice Advent 2012 instead. Following this are a handful of more cookbook like chapters that each present a small amount of theory and advice about how to run a given applications on AWS - interspaced with multiple pages of python code. Read on →

Back in October Nan Liu announced “pocco - a puppet manifest documentation experiment” as a way of generating much nicer looking documentation for puppet classes (you can see an example and reducing the amount of boilerplate needed to document your classes. After some issues with the ruby libraries it depends on, I ran it over a couple of my smaller manifests and I have to say the output is very readable and quite presentable. Read on →

For sysadmins and devopsy type people the next couple of months are full of chances to meet and learn from your European peers - We start off with the return of PuppetCamp to its home in Gent. Puppetcamps are a great, informal way to see how other people are using Puppet and put names to faces. A number of the more active European community members will be present and Ghent is a lovely city so it’s worth a couple of days out of the office - and then of course you can stay for … the 800 pound gorilla of Free and Open conferences - FOSDEM 2013. Read on →