drupal

Jan 13 2013

#devops Conference Season heating up...

My last post has been a while ... in that I announced that there would be another event right before FOSDEM ... I totally forgot to announce it here but I`m sure that most of you already know. Yes. PuppetCamp Europe is coming back to it's roots... it's coming back to the city where we hosted it for the first time on this side of the ocean.. Gent. (that's 31/1 and 1/2 )

There is still time to register for the event http://puppetcampghent2013.eventbrite.com/ The schedule for the event will be published soonish (given that the selection was done on Friday evening and the speakers already received their feedback)

Co-located with PuppetCamp there will another Build and Open Source cloud day
Build a Cloud day with interesting topics such as Cloudstack, Ceph, devops and a really interesting talk on how the Spotify crowd is using Cloudstack.

So after those 2 days in Ghent, a lot of people will be warmed up for the open source event of the year FOSDEM.

And right after FOSDEM a bunch of people will gather at the Inuits office for 2 days of discussing, hacking and evangelizing around #monitoringlove (see previous post)

I almost forgot but even before the FOSDEM week-long there is the 2013 PHP Benelux Conference where I`ll be running a fresh version of the 7 Tools for your devops stack

There is a ****load of #DevopsDays events being planned this year .... the 2012 edition of New York will be taking place next week .
Austin and London have been announced and have opened up their CFP and Registration but different groups are organizing themselves to host events in Berlin, Mountain View, Tokyo, Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam , Australia , Atlanta and many more ..

And there's even more to come .. April 6 and 7 will be the dates for the Linux Open Administration Days (Loadays 2013) in Antwerp again ... a nice small conference where people gather to discuss different interesting Linux topics .... Call For Presentations is still open ..Submit here

On the other side of the ocean there's DrupalCon Portland which once again is featuring a #devops track , and also the folks over at Agile 2013 (Nashville)
have a #devops track now. Both events are still looking for speakers ..

So if by the end of this year you still don't know what devops is all about .. you probably don't care and shouldn't be in the IT industry anyhow.

And those are only the events I`m somehow involved in for the next couple of months

Aug 25 2012

Vagrant and Drupal, a winning team

While heading back home from DrupalCon Munich after 4 days of good interaction with lots of Drupal folks.
I realized to my big suprise that there are a lot of people using Vagrant to make sure that developers are not working on platforms they invented their own. Lots of people have realized that "It works on my computer" is not something they want to hear from a developer and are reaching out to give them viable solutions to work on shared and reproducible solutions.

There were 2 talks proposing solutions to the problem,

the first one was ..Fearless development with Drush, Vagrant and Aegir by Christopher Gervais He talked about Drush VAgrant Integraion and how extentions to Drush allow for easy vagrant integration , bridging this gap allows rupal developers to use a tool they are already familiar with

The second one was Jochen Lillich who explained how he us using Vagrant an Chef for this purpose his talk titled Use datacenter tools to make your dev life easier has been posted already.

During the Vagrant BOF , I briefly ran over @patrickdebois old slides on Vagrant after which people started discussing their use cases.. 2 other projects came up

First is Project Oscar which aims at providing developers with a default Drupal development environment in a Jiffy. they do this by providing a bunch of puppetmanifests that sets up a working environment.

And the second one is Ariadne which is a standardized virtual machine development evironment for easily developing Drupal sites in a local sandbox that is essentially identical to a fully-configured hosted solution. It attempts to emulate a dedicated Acquia/Pantheon server as closely as possible, with added development tools. Project Ariadne is just like the examples from Jochen Lillich based on Chef

With all of these tools and examples around , there should be no excuses anymore for Drupal developers to hack on their own machine and tell the systems people "It works on my machine" (let alone to hack in production).

Aug 25 2012

Open Source Certification , Friend or Foe

With 2 of the bigger Open Source projects I care about talking about certifications programs questions pop up again ...

Should we certify ourselves ?

So let me tell you about my experiences in getting Open Source related Certifications ..

Over a decade ago, (2001) when RedHat was still Redhat and not yet Fedora the company I was working for was about to partner with RedHat and needed to get a number of people certified for that.

So I took the challenge, I bored myselve to death during a 4 day RedHat fast track training and set out to do the exam the next day. Obviosly I scored pretty well given my yearlong experience in the subject. Back then I was told that I scored the one but European Record on the exam which was actually held by another collegue (hey Ico) , our CTO however was not amused when I told that I could have scored better but I didn't bother running a chkconfig smb  on since I didn't see the use in using windows fileshares in a unix environment (Yes I was young , we're all allowd to make stupid mistakes :))

So I was certified, we were expecting the requests to flow in en masse ... nothing happened... not a single customer request... If I recall correctly we got 2 requests for certified engineers over the course of the following years. One was from a customer that wanted to have us do some junior level sysadmin work on their systems which we didn't care about, we proposed a more junior profile, but they insisted on having someone who was certified, The other one was from a Large institution that wanted certified people for their RedHat support, only to quickly learn that the budget they had planned for this project was about half the rate we usually charged ..

When RedHat introduced their certified Architect program my answer was, sure .. if you bring us the customer that will make the investment worthwhile , guess what..

My second experience with Open Source certification came a couple of years later with MySQL, same story partnering etc, . only this time our trainer had put some focus on a couple of slides during the training (Hi Tobias) and during the exam indeed one of those questions popped up, The correct answer to "What are the core values of MySQL AB" was "We reply to email" , I stood up and left the exam ...
I ranted about this to a number of people including Roland Bouman who back then was just starting on the MySQL (NDBD) Cluster certifciation track and I assisted him in making the book to study for that exam better.
Once again .. pretty much no one asked for MySQL certification in Europe back in those days (2007 ?)

I won't go deeper into discussing the Xen certification I got from Citrix, but it involved correcting slides from the presenters at the first European training.

Based on my experience with these certifications in Belgium/Europe you can see that I`m not a big fan of certifications I have not seen a reason for me to certify yet

I actually think that noone within the Open Source community should be looking for certification, we should be looking for people that are active in the community and that are contributing to projects.
Unlike in the proprietary world where you have to cough up tons of money in order to get a license to play with a tool and learn itl In the open source world with projects such as both Drupal and Puppet, there are absolutely no excuses for Junior people not to engage and prove themselves. they have full access to anything they need, the only thing they need to do is want to get involved.

Sadly this world however is still full of incompetent recruiters, middlemarket agencies that will never understand this and will ask for cerftifications of some kind. My fear is indeed that there will be a group of mediocre but certified developers swarming these growing markets at dumping rates and that the people with the real experience that have been involved in the communities for ages already will be the ones pulling the short straw.

Anyhow ... in just a short couple of years everything will be fine again .. as by then my RHCE will be current again and the incompetent recruiters that need people that are RedHat 7 certified will start calling me by the dozen.

Aug 06 2012

Breaking the Silence.

3+ months is probably the biggest timeout I've taken from blogging in a while..
Not that I didn't have anything to write ..but more that I was prioritizing writing different content over
over writing blogposts.

Blogging tech snippets and contributing documentation used to be one now all of that has evolved.
Anyhow ..

So to get things going here's my preliminary Conference schedule for the next couple of months.

  • First up, in about one week (august 20-24) I`ll be chairing the #devops track at DrupalCon Munich
    Next to talking there myselve explaining the Drupal Crowd what devops is
    Plenty of interresting content there ranging from culture over to tooling and back. I`m really looking forward to this one.

    There's also talk of the local Devops meetup group hosting an additional meetup !

  • About a month later I`ll be heading to San Francisco for a talk at PuppetConf 2012. I'll probably be around in the valley a bit earlier
    so if you anyone wants to meet up I`m open for suggestions.
  • I've taken over a bit of Patricks workload this year , thus I`m trying to guide the local crew in Rome into organising yet another awesome Devopsdays Europe,
    If you haven't noticed yet , Devopsdays is going to be in Rome this year on october 5 and 6. Both registration and the call for participation are still open !

Next up .. content ... on how monitoring tools still suck .. and I`m still not sure wether a certification program is relevant for open source consultants ..

May 01 2012

Devops in Munich

Devopsdays Mountainview sold out in a short 3 hours .. but there's other events that will breath devops this summer.
DrupalCon in Munich will be one of them ..

Some of you might have noticed that I`m cochairing the devops track for DrupalCon Munich,
The CFP is open till the 11th of this month and we are still actively looking for speakers.

We're trying to bridge the gap between drupal developers and the people that put their code to production, at scale.
But also enhancing the knowledge of infrastructure components Drupal developers depend on.

We're looking for talks both on culture (both success stories and failure) , automation,
specifically looking for people talking about drupal deployments , eg using tools like Capistrano, Chef, Puppet,
We want to hear where Continuous Integration fits in your deployment , do you do Continuous Delivery of a drupal environment.
And how do you test ... yes we like to hear a lot about testing , performance tests, security tests, application tests and so on.
... Or have you solved the content vs code vs config deployment problem yet ?

How are you measuring and monitoring these deployments and adding metrics to them so you can get good visibility on both
system and user actions of your platform. Have you build fancy dashboards showing your whole organisation the current state of your deployment ?

We're also looking for people talking about introducing different data backends, nosql, scaling different search backends , building your own cdn using smart filesystem setups.
Or making smart use of existing backends, such as tuning and scaling MySQL, memcached and others.

So lets make it clear to the community that drupal people do care about their code after they committed it in source control !

Please submit your talks here

Mar 08 2012

Devops and Drupal, the Survey, the Results

I've just finished presenting the results of our Drupal and Devops survey at the Belgian Drupal User Group meetup at our office

and I've uploaded the slides to slideshare for the rest of the world to cry read.

Honestly I was hoping for the audience to prove me wrong and I was expecting all of them to claim they were doing automated and repeatable deployments.

But there's hope...

Dec 31 2011

What is devops ?

I`m parsing the responses of the Deploying Drupal survey I started a couple of months ago (more on that later)

One of the questions in the survey is "What is devops" , apparently when you ask a zillion people (ok ok, just a large bunch of Tweeps..), you get a large amount of different answers ranging from totally wrong to spot on.

So let's go over them and see what we can learn from them ..

The most Wrong definition one can give is probably :

  • A buzzword

I think we've long passed the buzzword phase, definitely since it's not new, it's a new term we put to an existing practice. A new term that gives a lot of people that were already doing devops , a common word to dicuss about it. Also lots of people still seem to think that devops is a specific role, a job description , that it points to a specific group of people doing a certain job, it's not . Yes you'll see a lot of organisations looing for devops people, and giving them a devops job title. But it's kinda hard to be the only one doing devops in an organisation.

I described one of my current roles as Devops Kickstarter, it pretty much describes what I`m doing and it does contain devops :)

But devops also isn't

  • The connection between operations and development.
  • people that keep it running
  • crazy little fellows who find beauty in black/white letters( aka code) rather than a view like that of Taj in a full moon light.
  • the combination of developer and operations into one overall functionality
  • The perfect mixture between a developer and a system engineer. Someone who can optimize and simplify certain flows that are required by developers and system engineers, but sometimes are just outside of the scope for both of them.
  • Proxy between developer and management
  • The people in charge of the build/release cycle and planning.
  • A creature, made from 8-bit cells, with the knowledge of a seasoned developer, the skillset of a trained systems engineer and the perseverence of a true hacker.
  • The people filling the gap between the developer world and the sysadmin world. They understand dev. issues and system issues as well. They use tools from both world to solve them.

Or

  • Developers looking at the operations of the company and how we can save the company time and money

And it's definitely not

  • Someone who mixes both a sysop and dev duties
  • developers who know how to deploy and manage sites, including content and configuration.
  • I believe there's a thin line line between Ops and Devs where we need to do parts of each others jobs (or at least try) to reach our common goal..
  • A developer that creates and maintains environments tools to help other developers be more successful in building and releasing new products
  • Developers who also do IT operations, or visa versa.
  • Software developers that support development teams and assist with infrastructure systems

So no, developers that take on systems roles next to their own role and want to go for NoOps isn't feasable at all ..you really want collaboration, you want people with different skillsets that (try to) understand eachoter and (try to) work together towards a common goal.

Devops is also not just infrastructure as code

  • Writing software to manage operations
  • system administrators with a development culture.
  • Bring code management to operations, automating system admin tasks.
  • The melding of the art of Systems Administration and the skill of development with a focus on automation. A side effect of devops is the tearing down of the virtual wall that has existed between SA's and developers.
  • Infrastructure as code.
  • Applying some of the development worlds techniques (eg source control, builds, testing etc) to the operations world.
  • Code for infrastructure

Sure infastructure as code is a big part of the Automation part listed in CAMS, but just because you are doing puppet/chef doesn't mean you are doing devops.
Devops is also not just continous delivery

  • A way to let operations deploy sites in regular intervals to enable developers to interact on the systems earlier and make deployments easier.
  • Devops is the process of how you go from development to release.

Obviously lots of people doing devops also often try to achieve Continuous delivery, but just like Infrastructure as Code it devops is not limited to that :)

But I guess the truth is somewhere in the definitions below ...

  • That sweet spot between "operating system" or platform stack and the application layer. It is wanting sys admins who are willing to go beyond the normal package installers, and developers who know how to make their platform hum with their application.
  • Breaking the wall between dev and ops in the same way agile breaks the wall between business and dev e.g. coming to terms with changing requirements, iterative cycles
  • Not being an arsehole!
  • Sysadmin best-practise, using configuration as code, and facilitating communication between sysadmins and developers, with each understanding and participating in the activities of the other.
  • Devops is both the process of developers and system operators working closer together, as well as people who know (or who have worked in) both development and system operations.
  • Culture collaboration, tool-chains
  • Removing barriers to communication and efficiency through shared vocabulary, ideals, and business objectives to to deliver value.
  • A set of principles and good practices to improve the interactions between Operations and Development.
  • Collaboration between developers and sysadmins to work towards more reliable platforms
  • Building a bridge between development and operations
  • The systematic process of building, deploying, managing, and using an application or group of applications such as a drupal site.
  • Devops is collaboration and Integration between Software Development and System Administration.
  • Devops is an emerging set of principles, methods and practices for communication, collaboration and integration between software development (application/software engineering) and IT operations (systems administration/infrastructure) professionals.[1] It has developed in response to the emerging understanding of the interdependence and importance of both the development and operations disciplines in meeting an organization's goal of rapidly producing software products and services.
  • bringing together technology (development) & content (management) closer together
  • Making developers and admins understand each other.
  • Communication between developers and systems folk.
  • a cultural movement to improve agility between dev and ops
  • The cultural extension of agile to bring operations into development teams.
  • Tight collaboration of developers, operations team (sys admins) and QA-team.

But I can only conclude that there is a huge amount of evangelisation that still needs to be done, Lots of people still don't understand what devops is , or have a totally different view on it.

A number of technology conferences are and have taken up devops as a part of their conference program, inviting experienced people from outside of their focus field to talk about how they improve the quality of life !

There is still a large number of devops related problems to solve, so that's what I`ll be doing in 2012

Aug 21 2011

Devops for Drupal, the survey,

Devops is gaining momentum, the idea that developers and operations should work much closer together , the idea that one should automate as much as possible in both their infrastructure and their release process brings along a lot of questions, ideas and tools that need to be integrated in your daily way of working.

Drupal has one of the biggest development communities in the open source world, being part of both communities We are trying to bridge the gap,

At Inuits we are building tools and writing best practices to close the gap, but we are not alone in this world and we would like to gather some feedback on how other people are deploying, and managing their Drupal environments

Working with Drupal, build with Drupal in mind .. how do you release your sites .. That's what we are trying to figure out ... for everybody else to learn from

Oh and you can win some items of our brand new fashion line !

The survey is here , please spend a bit of your time helping us to better understand the needs of the community

Jul 17 2011

Drupal and Configuration Mgmt, we're getting there ...

For those who haven't noticed yet .. I`m into devops .. I`m also a little bit into Drupal, (blame my last name..) , so one of the frustrations I've been having with Drupal (an much other software) is the automation of deployment and upgrades of Drupal sites ...

So for the past couple of days I've been trying to catch up to the ongoing discussion regarding the results of the configuration mgmt sprint , I've been looking at it mainly from a systems point of view , being with the use of Puppet/ Chef or similar tools in mind .. I know I`m late to the discussion but hey , some people take holidays in this season :) So below you can read a bunch of my comments ... and thoughts on the topic ..

First of all , to me JSON looks like a valid option.
Initially there was the plan to wrap the JSON in a PHP header for "security" reasons, but that seems to be gone even while nobody mentioned the problems that would have been caused for external configuration management tools.
When thinking about external tools that should be capable of mangling the file plenty of them support JSON but won't be able to recognize a JSON file with a weird header ( thinking e.g about Augeas (augeas.net) , I`m not talking about IDE's , GUI's etc here, I`m talking about system level tools and libraries that are designed to mangle standard files. For Augeas we could create a separate lens to manage these files , but other tools might have bigger problems with the concept.

As catch suggest a clean .htaccess should be capable of preventing people to access the .json files There's other methods to figure out if files have been tampered with , not sure if this even fits within Drupal (I`m thinking about reusing existing CA setups rather than having yet another security setup to manage) ,

In general to me tools such as puppet should be capable of modifying config files , and then activating that config with no human interaction required , obviously drush is a good candidate here to trigger the system after the config files have been change, but unlike some people think having to browse to a web page to confirm the changes is not an acceptable solution. Just think about having to do this on multiple environments ... manual actions are error prone..

Apart from that I also think the storing of the certificates should not be part of the file. What about a meta file with the appropriate checksums ? (Also if I`m using Puppet or any other tool to manage my config files then the security , preventing to tamper these files, is already covered by the configuration management tools, I do understand that people want to build Drupal in the most secure way possible, but I don't think this belongs in any web application.

When I look at other similar discussions that wanted to provide a similar secure setup they ran into a lot of end user problems with these kind of setups, an alternative approach is to make this configurable and or plugable. The default approach should be to have it enable, but the more experienced users should have the opportunity to disable this, or replace it with another framework. Making it plugable upfront solves a lot of hassle later.

Someone in the discussion noted :
"One simple suggestion for enhancing security might be to make it possible to omit the secret key file and require the user to enter the key into the UI or drush in order to load configuration from disk."

Requiring the user to enter a key in the UI or drush would be counterproductive in the goal one wants to achieve, the last thing you want as a requirement is manual/human interaction when automating setups. therefore a feature like this should never be implemented

Luckily there seems to be new idea around that doesn't plan on using a raped json file
instead of storing the config files in a standard place, we store them in a directory that is named using a hash of your site's private key, like sites/default/config_723fd490de3fb7203c3a408abee8c0bf3c2d302392. The files in this directory would still be protected via .htaccess/web.config, but if that protection failed then the files would still be essentially impossible to find. This means we could store pure, native .json files everywhere instead, to still bring the benefits of JSON (human editable, syntax checkable, interoperability with external configuration management tools, native + speedy encoding/decoding functions), without the confusing and controversial PHP wrapper.

Figuring out the directory name for the configs from a configuration mgmt tool then could be done by something similar to

  1. cd sites/default/conf/$(ls sites/default/conf|head -1)

In general I think the proposed setup looks acceptable , it definitely goes in the right direction of providing systems people with a way to automate the deployment of Drupal sites and applications at scale.

I`ll be keeping a eye on both the direction they are heading into and the evolution of the code !

Mar 10 2011

Watching the Guards

A couple of weeks ago I noticed a weird drop in web usage stats on the site you are browsing now. Kinda weird as the drop was right around Fosdem when usually there is a spike in traffic.

So before you start.. no I don't preach on practice on my own blog, it's a blog dammit, so I do the occasional upgrades on the actual platform , with backups available, do some sanity tests and move on, yes I break the theme pretty often but ya'll reading this trough RSS anyhow.

My backups showed me that drush had made a copy of the Piwik module somewhere early february, exactly when this drop started showing. I verified the module , I verified my Piwik , - Oh Piwik you say .. yes Piwik, if you want a free alternative to Google Analytics , Piwik rocks .. - I even checked other sites using the same piwik setup and they were all still functional happily humming and being analyzed.... everything fine ... but traffic stayed low ..

This taught me I actually had to upgrade my Piwik too ...

So that brings me to the point I`m actually wanting to make...
as according to @patrickdebois in his chapter on Monitoring "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" who's monitoring the monitoring tools, who's monitoring the analytics tools,

So not only should you monitor the availability of yor monitoring tools, you should also monitor if their api hasn't changed in some way or another.
Just like when you are monitoring an web app you shoulnd't just see if you can connect to the appropriate http port, but you should be checking if you get sensible results back from it , no gibberish.

But then again ... there's no revenue in my blog or its statistics :)