DRP v3.11 PROVISIONS WITHOUT REBOOTING

Some features are worth SHOUTING about, so it’s with great pride that I get to announce DRP v3.11.

The latest Digital Rebar release (v3.11) does the impossible: PROVISION WITHOUT REBOOTING.  Combined with image-based deploy and our unique multi-boot workflows, this capability makes server operations 10x faster than traditional net install processes.

But it’s not enough to have a tiny golang utility that can drive any hardware and install any operating system (we added MacOS netboot to this release).   RackN has been adding enterprise integrations to core platforms like Ansible Tower, Terraform, Active Directory, Remedy, Run Book and Logstash.

Oh!  And checkout our open zero-touch, HA Kubernetes installer (KRIB) based on kubeadm.  We just added advanced Helm features for automatic Istio and Rook Ceph examples.

To see more: https://github.com/digitalrebar/provision/releases/tag/v3.11.0

October 6 – Weekly Recap of All Things Digital Rebar and RackN

Welcome to the weekly post of the RackN blog recap of all things Digital Rebar, RackN, SRE, and DevOps. If you have any ideas for this recap or would like to include content please contact us at info@rackn.com or tweet Rob (@zehicle) or RackN (@rackngo)

Items of the Week

RackN

RackN Beta Program Launch

Blog Post: Fast, Simple, Open Provisioning – Rethinking Infrastructure w/ Cloud Centric-Automation 

Operating hardware is too hard today. And too expensive.  Let’s fix that.

The problem with physical ops is not that it’s hard, complex or fragile. Okay, it is and those ARE problems, but they are compounded by the lack of shared management software and practices missing from this layer.  When the RackN team set out to solve these physical challenges, we knew the software had to be very focused to replace the current Cobbler and Foreman environments. It also had to be flexible and composable for heterogeneous environments or we’d be right back into snowflake custom DevOps.

We’re talking about a platform that finally addresses full lifecycle control at the hardware layer with open software.  That’s complex stuff automated in a reusable way.

Read More

Podcast

To participate in the beta please email us at beta@rackn.com, add your email on the RackN Beta Program website, or contact us twitter at @rackngo.

Digital Rebar 

Next Week – Digital Rebar Community Meetup #2

October 10 at 11:00am PST

Proposed outline agenda:

  • Welcome and recap from v001 meetup
  • demo: Kubernetes deployment via DRP / packet.net
  • demo: Injecting passwords and SSH keys
  • demo: Content Loading – demo and information
  • Weekly / or every-other-weekly meetups? https://www.meetup.com/digitalrebar/polls/1255504/
  • Release planning and features for v3.2.0

More Information at https://www.meetup.com/digitalrebar/events/243490128/

New Digital Rebar Provision Videos:

UPCOMING EVENTS

Rob Hirschfeld and Greg Althaus are preparing for a series of upcoming events where they are speaking or just attending. If you are interested in meeting with them at these events please email info@rackn.com

If you are attending any of these events please reach out to Rob Hirschfeld to setup time to learn more about our solutions or discuss the latest industry trends.

OTHER NEWSLETTERS

Surgical Ansible & Script Injections before, during or after deployment

RackN CEO, Rob Hirschfeld, has been posting about our unique composable operations approach with Digital Rebar to enable hybrid infrastructure and mix-and-match underlay tooling.

This post shows some remarkable flexibility enabled by the approach that allow operators to take limited, secure operations against running systems.

via Surgical Ansible & Script Injections before, during or after deployment. — Rob Hirschfeld

 

Surgical Ansible & Script Injections before, during or after deployment.

I’ve been posting about the unique composable operations approach the RackN team has taken with Digital Rebar to enable hybrid infrastructure and mix-and-match underlay tooling.  The orchestration design (what we call annealing) allows us to dynamically add roles to the environment and execute them as single role/node interactions in operational chains.

ansiblemtaWith our latest patches (short demo videos below), you can now create single role Ansible or Bash scripts dynamically and then incorporate them into the node execution.

That makes it very easy to extend an existing deployment on-the-fly for quick changes or as part of a development process.

You can also run an ad hoc bash script against one or groups of machines.  If that script is something unique to your environment, you can manage it without having to push it back upsteam because Digital Rebar workloads are composable and designed to be safely integrated from multiple sources.

Beyond tweaking running systems, this is fastest script development workflow that I’ve ever seen.  I can make fast, surgical iterative changes to my scripts without having to rerun whole playbooks or runlists.  Even better, I can build multiple operating system environments side-by-side and test changes in parallel.

For secure environments, I don’t have to hand out user SSH access to systems because the actions run in Digital Rebar context.  Digital Rebar can limit control per user or tenant.

I’m very excited about how this capability can be used for dev, test and production systems.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

 

 

 

Czan we consider Ansible Inventory as simple service registry?

... "docker exec configure file" is a sad but common pattern ...

np2utaoe_400x400Interesting discussions happen when you hang out with straight-talking Paul Czarkowski. There’s a long chain of circumstance that lead us from an Interop panel together at Barcelona (video) to bemoaning Ansible and Docker integration early one Sunday morning outside a gate in IAD.

What started as a rant about czray ways people find of injecting configuration into containers (we seemed to think file mounting configs was “least horrific”) turned into an discussion about how to retro-fit application registry features (like consul or etcd) into legacy applications.

Ansible Inventory is basically a static registry service.

While we both acknowledge that Ansible inventory is distinctly not a registry service, the idea is a useful way to help explain the interaction between registry and configuration.  The most basic goal of a registry (there are others!) is to have system components be able to find and integrate with other system components.  In that sense, the inventory creates allows operators to pre-wire this information in advance in a functional way.

The utility quickly falls apart because it’s difficult to create re-runable Ansible (people can barely pronounce idempotent as it is) that could handle incremental updates.  Also, a registry provides many other important functions like service health and basic cross node storage that are import.

It may not be perfect, but I thought it was @pczarkowski insight worth passing on.  What do you think?

Breaking Up is Hard To Do – Why I Believe Ops Decomposition (pt 1)

Over the summer, the RackN team took a radical step with our previous Ansible Kubernetes workload install: we broke it into pieces.  Why?  We wanted to eliminate all “magic happens here” steps in the deployment.

320px-dominos_fallingThe result, DR Kompos8, is a faster, leaner, transparent and parallelized installation that allows for pluggable extensions and upgrades (video tour). We also chose the operationally simplest configuration choice: Golang binaries managed by SystemDGolang binaries managed by SystemD.

Why decompose and simplify? Let’s talk about our hard earned ops automation battle scars that let to composability as a core value:

Back in the early OpenStack days, when the project was actually much simpler, we were part of a community writing Chef Cookbooks to install it. These scripts are just a sequence of programmable steps (roles in Ops-speak) that drive the configuration of services on each node in the cluster. There is an ability to find cross-cluster information and lookup local inventory so we were able to inject specific details before the process began. However, once the process started, it was pretty much like starting a dominoes chain. If anything went wrong anywhere in the installation, we had to reset all the dominoes and start over.

Like a dominoes train, it is really fun to watch when it works. Also, like dominoes, it is frustrating to set up and fix. Often we literally were holding our breath during installation hoping that we’d anticipated every variation in the software, hardware and environment. It is no surprise that the first and must critical feature we’d created was a redeploy command.

It turned out the the ability to successfully redeploy was the critical measure for success. We would not consider a deployment complete until we could wipe the systems and rebuild it automatically at least twice.

What made cluster construction so hard? There were a three key things: cross-node dependencies (linking), a lack of service configuration (services) and isolating attribute chains (configuration).

We’ll explore these three reasons in detail for part 2 of this post tomorrow.

Even without the details, it easy to understand that we want to avoid all magic in a deployment.

For scale operations, there should never be a “push and prey” step where we are counting on timing or unknown configuration for it to succeed. Likewise, we need to eliminate “it worked from my desktop” automation too.  Those systems are impossible to maintain, share and scale. Composed cluster operations addresses this problem by making work modular, predictable and transparent.

Deploy to Metal? No sweat with RackN new Ansible Dynamic Inventory API

The RackN team takes our already super easy Ansible integration to a new level with added SSH Key control and dynamic inventory with the recent OpenCrowbar v2.3 (Drill) release.  These two items make full metal control more accessible than ever for Ansible users.

The platform offers full key management.  You can add keys at the system, deployment (group of machines) and machine levels.  These keys can be set by the operator and can be added and removed after provisioning has been completed.  If you want to control access to groups on a servers or group of server basis, OpenCrowbar provides that control via our API, CLI and UI.

We also provide a API path for Ansible dynamic inventory.  Using the simple Python client script (reference example), you can instantly a complete upgraded node inventory of your system.  The inventory data includes items like number of disks, CPUs and amount of RAM.  If you’ve grouped machines in OpenCrowbar, those groups are passed to Ansible.  Even better, the metadata schema includes the networking configuration and machine status.

With no added configuration, you can immediately use Ansible as your multi-server CLI for ad-hoc actions and installation using playbooks.

Of course, the OpenCrowbar tools are also available if you need remote power control or want a quick re-image of the system.

RackN respects that data centers are heterogeneous.  Our vision is that your choice of hardware, operating system and network topology should not break DevOps deployments!  That’s why we work hard to provide useful abstracted information.  We want to work with you to help make sure that OpenCrowbar provides the right details to create best practice installations.

For working with bare metal, there’s no simpler way to deliver consistent repeatable results.