A DevOps fanatic, a Mainframe Sales Engineer, and an Octogenarian Professor of Creative Innovation meet at a potluck..

This weekend I had a wonderful experience living the divide that Rob Hirschfeld spells out in great detail on his blog http://robhirschfeld.com/tag/digital-natives/

I was at a Pot-Luck dinner with 40 or so families, most of them well into retirement age. The only other person seemingly in their 40s I also over-heard talking about technology. I started chatting with him. It turns out that he works for IBM, and his main task, as he so animatedly pointed out to me, was to convince companies to STAY on mainframes. He did this, he excited explained, not by disproving the fact that COBOL can be run well on x86 boxes. Rather, it’s the complicated integration points of these systems with other internal and external systems that will cause the customers to incur massive business downtime and costs. He smiled broadly saying, “they’re never leaving the mainframe.” So I asked him, what if their business radically changes?

It seems a lot of folks are missing the boat on the fact that business is in a revolutionary period. Agile has spread beyond the world of softare, and Lean has made its way out of manufacturing and the shop floor, to the datacenter and beyond. GE is changing the way they do business, and they’re promoting that they can rid themselves of old rigid business processes that cause their lead times to be so vast. With competitors creating similar products at lower prices with less lead time, every business needs to re-think their business process, manage the bottlenecks, and sell the right goods to the right customers, right when they want it.

This Industrial Revolution 2.0 is nothing that the mainframe model is setup to do. And that’s where the Professor of Creative Innovation comes into the story. As the IBM guy swore to me that “it will be another 10 years and we’ll be having exactly the same conversation,” the Octogenarian Professor from RPI laughed out loud. He told us that he’s seeing the future of materials, manufacturing, and technology right before his eyes every semester. He’s challenging his excited students to solve problems by finding creative solutions. His students turn to nature, often, for inspiration. And they mimic natural, not traditionally mechanical processes, to solve the most frustrating questions of our material and mechanical world. Finally, these products are not being sold off as patents to GE or IBM. They’re building businesses right here in our area to produce them and their offshoot business.

Great innovation no longer comes from within the hallowed halls of a GE or a Bell Labs. Innovation is happening from the open collaboration of disparate experts, all with different yet overlapping incentives. Great students no longer go off for a job at GE. They start their own businesses, have the lifestyles they want, and change the world.

GE, for their part, undestands this and is doing everything possible to make its processes, systems, and factories more agile, nible, and ready to respond to quickly shifting markets, hungry for greater innovation in ecoloical benefit, lower energy use, greater or more appropriate processing, better performance, or completely novel creations. Can the very siloed world of the mainframe survive, if a mainframe user is stuck in it with only very specially trained technologists and captured by old integration points? Where is the ease and freedom and creativity there? I don’t think businesses will be able to survive with that level of rigidity. The flexible will flourish! I’m off to the Professor’s classes this week to check out what folks are building anew!

From Over-Subscription to Hyper-Subscription

I’m sick and tired of virtual machines. They’re a significant waste of my compute resources. My laptops fan always starts spinning when I start up a virtual machine. But with container based workflows, I’ve never heard my fan go on. Even better, I’ve never had to re-build kernel moduels to get the latest version to work.

When I think of the production environments that I’ve deployed, and all the wasted RAM and storage, I get kinda sad.

My goal is to automate hardware and make containerization AWESOME.

Containers will let us Hyper-Subscribe our datacenters, without some magic from VMWare to share memory segments between OSes.

Slow Droid 4 – FIXED!

EDIT:  Every time you reboot, you’ve gotta go BACK to developer options and set the ‘Background Apps’ to =< 2.  :-(

Oh man, was I suffering from a slow Motorola Droid 4.  Switching between apps took MINUTES.  It was awful.  I’m running Verizon supplied Android 4.1.2.  I was blaming it on Waze or Facebook or not enough RAM. Then I did some searching and boy was I wrong.

All you gotta do is:

“Settings” -> “Developer Options” and set all the “animations” to off.  For good measure I limited background apps to 3 in number.

Now my phone is fast and wonderful.  It’s great!  If this helps you too, leave a shoutout!

All I Ever Wanted Is A Composable RunDeck

I love RunDeck. It’s just enough orchestration to get many jobs done in such an easy way. I can take whatever’s working for me, wrap it up in RunDeck and give it to someone. I wrote a long writeup on hooking it to your Active Directory, through OpenLDAP. I’m old school.  But all I’ve ever wanted is a composable RunDeck.  To bring inter-tool composition right into my face.

So then I fell in love with Chef and Puppet as they grabbed the very necessary spotlight. Suddenly, arising from the past of CFEngine, I could now code my infrastructure! Different parts of the system worked predictably, across platforms, and with such clarity and simplicity. Chef saves me thousands of lines of code, and helps me reason about my systems on a whole other level.

But these two worlds never really fit together very well. I want my “just enough orchestration,” but with the little bit of smarts necessary to interact intelligently with the abstract resources.

I was thinking, “Yeah, sure, it runs.  But how does it all fit together?  I want to compose!” OMG, then all sorts of other little tools that control other things came around, and I wanted to wrap them up in a big hug. A big smart hug, that knows just how they like to be hugged.

Crowbar 1.x originally only hugged Chef. And even only hugging Chef, it did MORE than Razor and Cobbler do (still today) combined.  And it did it all in a way that’s not “enterprisey” and is just clear and makes sense. But it didn’t get all the way to that “composable RunDeck” thing that I was looking for.

So we wrote OpenCrowbar. And now it does.

OpenLDAP pass-through auth to Active Directory

Yes, this is hysterically historical.  I’m keeping it here for safe keeping.

Control Tier Authentication and Authorization: Files, OpenLDAP, and Pass Through to Active Directory

in brief
You want to enable flexible authentication and authorization schemes for your Control Tier server.
*# Control Tier first checks the “fileRealm” files for usernames, passwords and roles.
*# On failure, Control Tier then checks against an OpenLDAP server which is setup to acts as a proxy for the corporate Active Directory, while also providing it’s own branches for Control Tier roles (and any other apps.)

 

Control Tier --> files -> OpenLDAP --> Active Directory
(users (roles) (users)
and
roles)
 ou=roles,dc=corp,dc=example,dc=net <-- OpenLDAP
ou=people,dc=corp,dc=example,dc=net <-- Active Directory

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Mayfiles and Dinosaurs – Metamorphosis and Epigenetics in Devops

Well, I guess it had to come to this.  Rob Hirschfeld brought up the wonderfully preposterous notion of puppies growing up to be dinosaurs.  And as a good scientist, and a profound thinker in DevOps, Rob’s statement is based upon his direct observation.  He states that our most beloved pets can become tyrants (Tyrannosaurus Rex, aptly named) in our lives in operations.

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Development Foo – using vim and sshfs to propel development

Ahoy, mateys!

I hack on Crowbar a lot. And here’s how I run my show:

1) dev/build box running ubuntu-12.04
2) Crowbar Admin box running whatever latest stuff i just built – and mostly works
3) a test node box, where I used Crowbar to deploy whatever I’m working on
4) another test node box, where I’ve used crowbar to deploy what I’ve been working on.

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The Image/Config Event Horizon

Here’s a few paragraphs of my thoughts about Functional Operations. By Functional Operations I mean that which emerges out of the meeting of “golden images” (delicately crafted base images that once deployed need config management) and “config management” (the config data and rules for applying it to a live golden image.)

As the “golden” image itself becomes integrated into the config management, it changes just like any other variable in the config management database. What’s changed in our toolkit?  What benefits do we get?

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FuncOps: Orchestration and The Mothership Connection

It’s going to take some time to understand and articulate the full awesomeness of Crowbar 2’s approach to DevOps. One of the ways is to envision “Functional Operations,” similar to “Functional Programming”… this is early, but it’s a peek at our thinking. Paraphrasing Parliament Funcadelic: “Make my Func the FuncOps, I want to get FuncOps.”

What Erlang teaches us about orchestration.

Erlang’s design allows for intergalactic scalability and concurrency. Let’s riff off of a great design!

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