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Pat Romanski

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rPath Configuration Management Automation Platform

rPath supports open source configuration tools such as Puppet, Cfengine and Chef

Virtualization Track at Cloud Expo

rPath, an innovator in automating system provisioning and maintenance, on Wednesday announced it is adding support for configuration management to its system automation solution. Effective immediately, rPath will support interoperation with key open source configuration management tools, including Reductive Labs’ Puppet, Cfengine, and Opscode’s Chef. During the second half of 2010, the company will introduce native support for configuration—including native implementation of a configuration management engine—to be delivered as part of its Project Javelin roadmap.

“Configuration management is really the last mile of system automation, and we’re extending our solution to include configuration data that is usually edited by hand or with highly technical tools,” said Jake Sorofman, chief marketing officer for rPath. “rPath is known for deep modeling and system version control that we use to automate the packaging, provisioning and maintenance of software stacks—the application through the OS, or any layer in between. We’re extending this model-driven, version-controlled approach to configuration, providing far more control and efficiency in how configuration settings are created, deployed and maintained.”

rPath Configuration Management, Today and Tomorrow

Configuration files contain complex information associated with a system’s host environment, including settings for network, storage and other run-time resources. Application, OS and middleware configuration files typically need to be heavily modified to “contextualize” a system for its local host environment.

Today, rPath supports open source configuration tools such as Puppet, Cfengine and Chef in two ways:

  • Side-by-side. Used side-by-side, rPath manages operating system, middleware and application software while a third-party configuration tool manages configuration files. No changes or integrations are required in either system.
  • Deploy and manage. rPath can deploy and manage configuration tool scripts, managing the regularly-changing scripts under version control and alongside software system manifests. Scripts are easily deployed and reproduced, and changes to the scripts can be easily rolled back. Unique configuration scripts can be managed together with specific system manifests to ensure they’re coordinated and synchronized as they move together through the release lifecycle.

According to Sorofman: “rPath offers the most advanced capabilities available for provisioning and maintaining software systems across physical, virtual or cloud environments. Increasingly, advanced IT shops—including several rPath customers—are using tools like Puppet, Chef and Cfengine to manage configuration settings. But they recognize that these tools are poorly suited to managing software systems, which is rPath’s strength. It’s a logical combination.”

Going forward, rPath will also support configuration natively as part of Project Javelin.

Among other areas, the rPath roadmap invests heavily in model-driven and version-controlled configuration management to extend its next-generation system automation platform. Since configuration requirements are highly diverse across enterprises, rPath is investing in and natively supporting two complementary approaches to configuration:

  • Version-controlled CIM (Common Information Model). rPath will bring full CIM-based configuration management under system version control, making it easy to model, deploy and update consistent systems by simultaneously deploying systems and their supporting configurations. rPath’s CIM engine will be compatible with both Windows and Linux environments.
  • Direct configuration templating. rPath will let users templatize and parameterize traditional configuration files under system version control. Less controlled but easier to adopt than CIM, configuration templating offers a lightweight and ad hoc “backdoor” to fully model-driven configuration, which allows users to easily make changes on the fly.

Both capabilities will be available by Q3 2010.

When these capabilities are delivered, rPath customers will have the option of using these advanced configuration features or continuing to use other tools in conjunction with rPath.

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