We’ve recently been doing more automated testing in the SSP, and with that has come a lot of the benefits you might expect: an ability to spot faults as we make changes, and a guarantee of functionality working as prescribed among them. But I’ve come across a whole bunch of bonus benefits we get, some related to managing stories and projects, and some as personal gains for me.
An increasingly important aspect of our strategy is to use automation as much as possible when appropriate. Using automation ensures that our application delivery infrastructure is consistent across our Development, Test and Production environments, and allows a service to be rolled out quickly onto a new server if required. It also enables us to stop doing the same manual task over and over again..
We started using Puppet over a year ago and have since used it to automate many aspects of web server (Apache HTTP Server) and application server (such as Tomcat) configuration. Several of our priority services such as Student records system, MyEd portal and Central Wiki are now built with the help of Puppet.
In order to get the most out of Puppet several Development services staff have attended training provided by Puppet. Last week was the turn of myself and Development Technology colleague Riky to attend Puppet Practitioner. I was a little apprehensive as I hadn’t been to Puppet Fundamentals, the course that Practitioner builds upon. The apprehension was unfounded as the experience that I had gained using puppet “in anger” building services was more than enough to see my through.
Our trainer gave a honest view of the different ways (good and bad) of solving real world problems they had come across whilst using Puppet.
The training covered things to be added to our todo list including, investigating testing of Puppet DSL using rspec. Also something to ponder is syntax validation of Hiera YAML files after I confused Puppet and myself yesterday by missing out a colon between the key and value. Riky found this Testing Hiera Data article that might be handy…
In this post I’m going to go through each of the talks over the two days and summarise what the speakers talked about. I’ll also adds links to the slides and videos as they become available for those who want to look a little bit deeper. In a separate post, I’ll talk about what the lessons are that we can learn in the University of Edinburgh; and what we can start doing today.