Puppet users to get visual cues for troubleshooting systems

Puppet Enterprise 3.1 is designed to speed the troubleshooting process by more quickly identifying problem spots

New for Puppet Enterprise 3.1 is the event inspector, an interactive reporting tool that allows system administrators to visualize IT infrastructure changes at a glance.

New for Puppet Enterprise 3.1 is the event inspector, an interactive reporting tool that allows system administrators to visualize IT infrastructure changes at a glance.

Puppet has added some visual pizzazz to its namesake open source IT automation software, providing a graphic event inspector for administrators to see at a glance where trouble spots in their systems reside.

Puppet Enterprise 3.1, available Tuesday, also provides cloud provisioning for the Google Compute Engine, can manage the legacy Red Hat Enterprise (RHEL) 4.0 distributions and can provide a way to reboot machines running Microsoft Windows from over a network.

One of the major headaches system administrators can face is trying to troubleshoot a specific problem within a complex and interconnected infrastructure of IT equipment and associated software. Puppet's new event inspector promises to show where trouble spots reside, minimizing the amount of time needed to scan through megabytes of log files.

"The event inspector offers you an organized, at-a-glance view of any change events in your infrastructure and provides instant access to detailed, actionable information," wrote Puppet software engineer Lindsey Smith in a blog post announcing the release of Puppet Enterprise.

The inspector summarizes the state of a system by three attributes: classes, nodes and resources.

A class is an administrator-defined collection of all the packages, files and services needed to run a single application. If an application is performing sluggishly, the class inspector could potentially identify the laggard component.

Nodes are the specific servers, storage servers, network routers, and other discrete hardware components. In many cases, seasoned system administrators can spot system problems simply by examining the performance of the underlying nodes, according to Puppet.

Puppet also keeps tabs on specific resources, or the individual packages, files and services within a system.

Other enhancements have been made to the software for this release. Administrators can now use Puppet Enterprise to provision, configure and deploy nodes on Google Cloud Engine (GCE). Although originally designed for managing in-house infrastructure, Puppet has been augmented over the past few years to work with cloud services as well. It can also work with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and cloud platforms based on the VMware platform.

Puppet Enterprise 3.1 extends support for legacy platforms. It can work with RHEL 4.0, which many organizations still use in production duties. It also allows administrators, for the first time, to reboot an instance of Windows -- Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2012, or Windows 7-- after it has been installed.

Created in 2005, Puppet Labs offers configuration management software for managing an organization's computers and software. The company offers two versions: an open source version, called Puppet, and a commercially supported version, Puppet Enterprise. The software provides a declarative language that administrators can use to specify machine configurations, which then can be used to automate reoccurring deployment and maintenance routines. The company maintains Puppet Forge, a repository of modules that can be used with Puppet to execute common tasks, such as installing popular software packages.

Puppet Enterprise 3.1 is free for use in managing up to 10 nodes. Beyond 10 nodes, pricing starts at US$99 per node.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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