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Puppet Seeks Wider IT Automation Market

The update to Puppet Labs' IT automation software, Puppet Enterprise 2.0, includes cloud provisioning and change monitoring and management orchestration, and is intended to attract a wider audience, says CEO Luke Kanies. He believes the addition of a graphical user interface to replace the more tech-friendly command-line interface should make the software more accessible and attractive to organizations looking to provision new applications and respond to infrastructure changes faster.

Founded in 2005, the company shipped its first open source Puppet Project the same year, and the agent-based client-server solution now manages millions of nodes across thousands of organizations. Customers include Google, Apple, Twitter, Citrix and Oracle/Sun.

Due to ship near the end of October, version 2.0's provisioning capabilities will make it easier for systems administrators to scale infrastructure using Amazon’s EC2 cloud service or VMware in their own data centers. Its orchestration capabilities will enable "command and control" power for making parallel changes across clusters of nodes with just a single command, and the baselining capabilities will enable monitoring compliance against a desired state, which the company says is a critical input to change management and auditing processes. Users can download and manage up to 10 nodes free of charge; pricing starts at $1,995 for 25 nodes.

Puppet is attracting the attention of systems administrators who are looking for a cheaper, more efficient way to automate a wide range of data center configuration, provisioning and operations management tasks, says Mary Johnston Turner, research VP, IDC. "Version 2.0 provides customers with a much simpler user interface that should make it easier for a wide range of IT staff to take advantage of the product's capabilities. It also improves the product's capabilities in the areas of change control and compliance reporting, which are top priorities for enterprise-class customers."

Although Puppet has been available for several years as an open source offering, the first commercial product was just released in February 2011, so it is still a very young player in the commercial enterprise data center automation software marketplace, she says. "To date, Puppet has focused on selling a low-cost solution to individual system administrators. This is a very different approach than is taken by server/workload automation management software leaders like BMC's Bladelogic or IBM's Tivoli Provisioning Manager, which tend to target a broader set of workflows and offer tighter integrations with asset management, performance monitoring and service desk solutions."

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