Arista Networks‘ EOS operating system now includes a native Puppet agent. Sounds cool, no? Now I’ll explain what this means.
Puppet Labs makes DevOps tools that have become popular in the cloud-computing world, enabling administrators to use pre-built code to automate administrative and configuration tasks when setting up standard servers. This code can be more rapidly deployed with the networking operating system (OS) once it has a Puppet agent installed. Arista now has a native Puppet agent and module.
This approach is pushing cloud-style DevOps more deeply into the networking world. Puppet’s deal with Arista is by no means a first in networking. Puppet already has partnerships with networking vendors such as Cisco, F5 Networks, Brocade, Cumulus Networks, Juniper, and others. The Arista agent is built according to the NetDev standard for networking hardware support.
The advantage of having a native agent in the network OS is that managers can use Puppet’s software modules, which are kept in a central repository known as the Puppet Forge. Arista now has an EOS module in the Forge. Software developers and network administrators are regularly publishing modules on the Forge to help automate the network.
This is another step in using third-party applications and DevOps tools to implement software-defined networking (SDN), mimicking the virtualization methods used for servers in cloud environments. One application that could be used from a Puppet Forge module, for example, would be to define a network topology and then use a software module to build that network topology many times over in a large organization.
The goal of taking DevOps tools such as Puppet from cloud computing into networking is to automate any number of manual tasks so that networks can be built and managed much faster. Of course, this has some sysadmins fearing their job security, but a more positive argument is that their skills can be turned in more productive directions, using more advanced capabilities to build smart network operations.
Portland, Ore.-based Puppet has been riding this wave of automation and DevOps. The company says its revenue has grown more than 3,000 percent in recent years and it now has nearly 400 employees. It recently expanded to a 75,000-square-foot location in Portland. The company says its customer base grew by more than 100 percent in 2014.