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Puppet: The Ultimate Solution to Configuration Management

Gursimran Singh | 16 August 2022

Puppet: The Ultimate Solution to Configuration Management


Deployment of enterprise IT architecture is a tedious task as it comprises complex and a hybrid structure like across multiple sites or on multiple cloud providers. Configuration of these assets becomes more complex as dependencies have to be identified & managed and ensure proper audits and documentation to be maintained by the IT department for the given infrastructure.

Configuration management is a crucial foundation of infrastructure setup & maintenance. It ensures the easy tracking of all the configuration of software and hardware assets through a single source of truth. There are numerous tools in the market like Puppet, Chef, Ansible & many more.

In this blog, we will go through Puppet, one of the leading configuration management tools & will try to answer why & where we can use it & how it can benefit us in infrastructure management to choose puppet as your go-to tool for configuration management.

What is Puppet?

Puppet is a configuration management tool written in Ruby that helps in managing & automating the configuration of servers. It is available in both open-source & enterprise versions. 

It is designed to manage the configuration on Unix-like & Windows operating systems declaratively. For that, it uses Domain-specific Language "DSL."Through DSL user defines the resource & its state. It can be used with a wide variety of operating systems & devices.

The declarative approach of puppet allows users to define the state they want the server to be in without digging deep into the process to configure the server. Now puppet will make sure the configuration is achieved, and it will plan the process accordingly as per the server's operating system. It has two major components.

  • Primary server: It stores the code that consists of the primary state to be achieved.
  • Agent: It translates your code into commands and executes them accordingly. 

The server solely manages all the configuration & the puppet agent does the configuration.

Why should use Puppet?

With Puppet, configuration management gets easier by helping the system administrator automate the process configuration and infrastructure provision. There are many benefits of using puppet in your environment:

  • Consistency: Troubleshooting problems is a time-consuming and tedious process that is to be done manually. Without configuration-management, it gets more complex to assume the infrastructure, like what version of the software is installed and the software installation process if followed on the node. When we use puppets, we can validate if the puppet achieves the desired state on the node.
  • Automation: While the handling of a server configuration at a smaller scale is easier but when it comes to managing 10s, 100s or more servers at a larger scale with mixed environment configuration and scaling of the infrastructure, it gets complex while ensuring the process to be efficient and secure. Puppet helps you to achieve all of this with ease.
  • IaC: Puppet treats infrastructure as code & implements all practices done by the software developer such as version control system(VCS), automated testing & continuous delivery.
  • Idempotency: It refers to its ability to apply the code repeatedly and get a guaranteed desired state with the assurance of the same results.
  • Agile: It's based on the principle of using the agile process of working incrementally & reusability of code.

What are the components of Puppet ?

Puppet as a whole comprises several packages that work together and is thus known as a puppet platform. It is based on client-server architecture & comprises the following components: puppet-server, puppet-dB & puppet-agent — which includes Facter and Hiera.

  • Puppetserver: The server node that manages one or more agent nodes. Communication between server and client is established by HTTPS & SSL certificates. The SSL certificate has a built-in authority to manage the certificate.For the primary server configuration, the server performs the role of primary node & agent to configure itself. 
  • Puppet-agent: It is a service that runs on the client and requests catalogs from the server. It also implements all the changes mentioned in the catalog and, after implementation, sents repost to master.
  • Facter: It is a puppet inventory tool that gathers facts like hostname and IP & sends them to the primary server in the form of particular code file manifests. The primary server defines a catalog through this information: a JSON doc describing each agent node's desired state. Each agent node requests and receives an individual catalog & then it configures the node. After configuration, each agent sends a report to the primary server.

We keep all the puppet code like manifest in modules & each module manages a specific task. Modules contain both code and data. The data is what allows you to customize your configuration. Hiera will enable you to separate the data from the code & place it in a centralized location.

All of the data generated by Puppet (like facts, catalogs, reports) is stored in the PuppetDB. Storing data in PuppetDB allows Puppet to work faster & provides an API for other applications to access puppet DB data. It is an excellent tool for infrastructure discovery, vulnerability assessment, compliance reporting & many more. You perform all of these tasks via PuppetDB queries.

What are the Benefits of Puppet?

Puppet can benefit you in your infrastructure configuration & management for your glance:

  1. Infrastructure as code(IaC): It enables you to define infrastructure as code (IaC) with ease of coding as IaC plays a crucial part inDevOps practices such as version control(VCS), automated testing & deployment, and CD.
  2. Disaster Recovery:  Downtime due to misconfiguration issues can be reduced significantly, also can be avoided in most cases, as the speed of recovery gets pretty fast.
  3. It allows a significant time saving with its speed of deployment. An open-source developer platform backs puppet.
  4. Puppet works fine even on an extensive infrastructure by automating repetitive tasks & giving constant outputs.
  5. It supports a vast variety of Mac OS, Microsoft Windows, Debian & many more. The best part is, it uses easy-to-learn language to define the configurations.
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In this blog, we came across what configuration management is and how it can configure the infrastructure. Then we got introduced to puppet, its principles, features to understand better the puppet configuration management tool, it's working, & how it can benefit us. When you choose a configuration management tool for your infrastructure, you have all the insights about the puppet.

What's Next?