Today, EMC announced a partnership with Puppet Labs around something called “Project Razor”. During Chad’s World Live II – “the comeback tour”, I demonstrated it, joined by the CTO of Puppet Labs – Nigel Kersten.
Puppet is a very widely used (it’s a veritable “who’s who” of the internet - Twitter, Yelp, eBay, Zynga, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Google, Disney, Citrix, Oracle, and Viacom) IT automation package. VMware is a partner and an investor. Puppet is VERY cool, VERY powerful, VERY flexible. It’s available in both open source and commercial models. Nigel joined Puppet Labs (where most of the contributors to Puppet live) after being behind one of the largest uses of Puppet – at Google.
You can read Nick Weaver’s post on this here (you can never have a blog post with too much latin in the title). The Puppet Labs team’s view is here. We’ve contributed Razor to the open community – and you can play with it by checking out Puppet Forge here.
Why “Razor”? Have you ever heard of the principle called “Ockam’s Razor”?…
So… What does something as weird, wonderful and strange as this idea…have to do with EMC?
Now THAT’S a funny story, and to me the story is as cool as the outcome. Read on past the break!
Many of you know Nick Weaver (http://nickapedia.com/). He joined EMC as a vSpecialist in 2010, and rapidly started having an impact. Each of us is unique (which is, IMO, a beautiful thing) and brings something to the table. Nick’s uniqueness brought a lot. He could whip out prototypes like nobody’s business. He could turn around an UBER-anything (a very optimized version of an idea/code/product) fast. A very flexible mind too – able to pick up many things he knew little about very quickly. It became clear that he could have more impact in other roles (not that he wasn’t great on the vSpecialist team – he was – and is), and we worked to move him into the EMC Office of the CTO (OCTO).
Grant me one little sidebar… One mantra I use on the vSpecialist team (and mean to the bottom of my heart) is “once a vSpecialist, always a vSpecialist”. After all – all the vSpecialists are is a set of shared values, an idea, and a tribe of people who rally around those principles. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s not a function of org charts, lines, or job descriptions. I truly feel like people get infected (in a good way), and then pass on that infection – hopefully changed in a positive and permanent way. When someone “leaves” the vSpecialists to go somewhere else in the incredibly broad EMC – that’s a time for celebration – as there is a constant flow of new people coming in – each bringing their own uniqueness, and increasingly, those values become broadly held. That’s not squishy – that’s how you change things, and it’s how you can create a culture. Cultures can move mountains – and winning cultures reinforce themselves even as they adapt.
So – Nick is in the OCTO, working on a series of projects around vCloud and Openstack, but also sees how frustrating it is to build ALL our products/technologies. He gets frustrated with the bare-metal build process. He starts hacking away and builds an incredibly flexible tool. Using a tiny microkernel and PXE to connect to a server, it can automate – from baremetal – a ton, uses a crazy flexible declarative, object based model - and then he built a little broker that connects into Puppet which can take it from there. Using Razor, one can take any hardware and turn it into a working vSphere 5 cluster in minutes, even going to far as to stand up vCD in an automated way with Puppet. What if it’s not a vSphere cluster – but building a Recoverpoint cluster? An Avamar cluster? An Openstack config? At the intial release, it supports a ton… VMware’s ESXi 5, Centos 6, openSUSE 12, Ubuntu Oneiric & Precise, Debian Wheezy.. You get the idea. Open, model based, flexible, simple…. WOW.
Nick and his leader Dan Hushon (another very smart dude and friend in the OCTO) take the idea on the road with EMC business units, customers/service providers, VMware, and Puppet. While this isn’t a new idea – the consensus view is that the way that Nick and the EMC OCTO team built it was simple, elegant, and perhaps better than how it had been done before – a lot better.
In a matter of weeks, everyone is looking at this going “this is thing is awesome – what the heck are we going to do with it?” I mean, clearly this isn’t EMC’s core business (though we can and will use it). So – rapidly the OCTO decide to partner with Puppet Labs, provide the source to the open source community, and we’ll continue to add modules, particularly around EMC and VMware technologies – but also anything else people need/dig.
Here’s a video that shows Razor in action…
What’s the moral of the story? Well….
- Moral #1: Nick Weaver, you are one smart cookie – and for what it’s worth – I’m proud of you, my vSpecialist brother. You’re making a positive impact on the world – keep it up.
- Moral #2: EMC is so far evolved from the legacy (both culture and technology) view people have of us – it’s not even funny :-) EMC is a place where people can have an idea, and that idea can move into action, execution and impact – all amazingly quickly. Our technology portfolio is crazy broad – yes, while continuing to be the storage leader. We are materially investing in several open-source movements. Our company culture isn’t for everyone – but for those that thrive on action, it’s pretty darn cool if you ask me.
If you think the “Nick/Razor/Puppet thing” an isolated thing (perhaps you’re an EMC hater) – I’ll give you another example. Take a look at the last customer we had on Chad’s World Live II this week – Los Alamos National Lab, with whom we’re collaborating around Exascale HPC use cases… Think 100TB/s bursts and 900PB filesystems servicing the memory state checkpoint of computing clusters with 1,000,000,000 CPU cores, and you’re in the right head-space. Every day here I turn over a rock and find something cool and mind-blowing.
Nick – THANK YOU!