Puppet equipped to be OpenStack interface

With a series of modules, the Puppet configuration management tool can be used to deploy and manage OpenStack clouds

Puppet Labs has equipped its namesake open-source configuration management software with the ability to control OpenStack cloud deployments, the company plans to announce on Tuesday.

Puppet's new capability, offered as a series of modules, may bring a much-needed user interface to the increasingly popular OpenStack cloud computing software stack.

The modules will help administrators "build and maintain the key central spine of OpenStack," said Luke Kanies, CEO and founder of Puppet Labs. "If you want to get an OpenStack deployment up and running, these modules will help you do that."

OpenStack is a set of open-source software components for managing computing infrastructure so it can be offered as a service. The primary method of access for OpenStack itself is an API (application programming interface), which can be used for building control consoles. Easy-to-use graphical interfaces that employ this API have been in short supply until recently, though. Hosting provider and OpenStack co-founder Rackspace just released a graphical console for controlling OpenStack deployments on its own hosting service. Dell has also open sourced a console for handling basic operations in OpenStack, called Crowbar.

Puppet now offers a third alternative. Like Puppet itself, OpenStack is a modular system, one with different components handling different duties. The initial batch of Puppet modules will allow administrators to manage OpenStack's Compute, Object Store and Image Store components.

Puppet can be used to build an OpenStack implementation, as well as manage software patches and monitor performance once the deployment is operational. The modules will be updated as the software itself is updated. "It will be a very easy way for OpenStack users to stay modern with what is happening in the OpenStack community," Kanies said.

Puppet developed the modules, along with Cisco, Red Hat, and cloud service providers Morphlabs and eNovance.

The modules may be downloaded from PuppetForge, a repository of Puppet modules. Additional modules will be released in the months to come, though this initial batch of modules will provide the core functionality for interfacing with OpenStack.

ENovance has been one of the early users of Puppet to manage OpenStack. The company has specialized in offering open-source software in a hosted setting and began offering OpenStack in 2011, according to Loïc Dachary, eNovance chief research officer. Dachary said the company appreciates that Puppet has a vibrant user and developer community, which helps ensure that issues that eNovance encounters can be addressed quickly.

ENovance plans to launch a hosted version of OpenStack controlled by Puppet in May, though it offers the service now to selected customers.

This is not Puppet's first foray into managing cloud services. Other Puppet modules can be used to manage cloud services based on VMware software as well as to manage deployments on Amazon Web Services.

Puppet Labs, founded in 2005, offers an enterprise version of the open-source configuration management tool. Organizations such as Zynga, Citrix, Rackspace and Match.com use the software.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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