Can you smell what the Puppet is cookin’?

Imitation is the highest form of flattery…

Things are getting really interesting in the configuration management space.  The confluence of clouds, web 2.0, dev-ministration and chocolate sauce.

Chef is upping the ante, one way or another. I’m a little saddened that the majority of the ideas in Chef were discussed in the context of Puppet and implemented by someone who has made a living off of Puppet… but I’m not totally surprised.

I understand why Adam would do this, and on many levels it parallels Luke’s relationship with cfengine.  Adam has probably used Puppet to solve more real problems and build more infrastructure than anyone else, just like Luke had done consulting with cfengine for years before Puppet was born. In a sense, Adam is the embodiment of the future of system administration that Luke had envisioned and hoped to create.

Socrates, Plato, Aristotle… and so it goes.

Adam is a smart guy who thinks clearly about solving problems, had Puppet as an example and data from the front line. He strikes me as a genuine fellow and while we aren’t best friends, I have enjoyed his conversation and insights on more than one occasion.  Chef adds some nice functionality that was obvious and some pieces that are differences in philosophy.  I’ve done my best to absorb both Luke and Adam’s expressed positions, and paradoxically, in my estimation they are both right, in their context. One way or another, there are still a lot of machines out there being managed by meatclouds, so there is plenty of work to do.

Puppet was first released in 2005 and has grown in functionality and adoption since that time. Puppet is revolutionizing system administration, similarly to how Rails revolutionized web development, and Chef can only accelerate that process, by its own merits and by driving innovations in Puppet. At the heart of the story are many questions about progress, open source, community, technology, obligations and the attributions.  The storyline already has mystery, intrigue, tragic heroes, and double agents. There is bound to be some drama, just because there are humans involved, but sometimes nothing motivates like a nice punch in the mouth.

Remember when Nintendo was king of the world then couldn’t sell anything, and now they pwn Playstation and Xbox… Or when apple was awesome and then wasn’t and now we all have iPhones… Innovators innovate, ebb and flow, ebb and flow.

And rails is merb is rails, and you never know what the future holds.  Buckle up… I’m just sayin’…

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

–George Bernard Shaw


3 responses to “Can you smell what the Puppet is cookin’?

  • Hell’s Kitchen | IT Management and Cloud Blog

    […] Can you smell what the Puppet is cookin’? […]

  • People Over Process » Links for January 26th

    […] Can you smell what the Puppet is cookin’? « fate = will && choice || circumstanc… […]

  • Josh

    I think that creating a DSL in Ruby is the wrong way to go. The syntax isn’t going to be as clear as Puppet’s syntax, meaning it won’t appeal to as wide an audience.

    One of my friends is a first-class system administrator, but he’s no programmer. He’s comfortable with shell scripts and PHP, but not much else. He won’t be using Chef, and neither will his IT group. Likewise, my group won’t ever touch something like Chef–most of us aren’t programmers, and god help us if we have to teach our off-shore team to program in Ruby just to manage systems…

    I do see two advantages that Chef has:

    1. A Ruby DSL will be executed faster than a DSL that has to be parsed and compiled by Ruby.

    2. The numerous hacks that people will come up with to get around limitations in Chef’s DSL can be integrated into the DSL very quickly.

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