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Red Hat Satellite 6.1 brings Puppet, container support

Red Hat users are in the midst of transitioning to Satellite 6 and have found some potholes -- and some big plusses -- in the move from version 5.

BOSTON -- Red Hat Satellite users transitioning to version 6 of the lifecycle management software face stumbles but are encouraged by new features, including integration with Puppet.

Red Hat Satellite provides provisioning, software management, subscription management and configuration management for Red Hat Enterprise Linux infrastructures. Going from version 5 to 6 is a transitional, not a traditional upgrade.

In version 6, released in 2014, users gain the ability to provision across bare-metal servers and private and public clouds. In addition, there is integration with configuration automation tool Puppet and its Forge module repository, and the open-source code management system Git, among other changes. Satellite 5 end of life is slated for 2019.

Satellite 6.1, in beta now, brings fixes and "structural adjustments," according to David Caplan, a Red Hat product manager, and includes Linux and Docker container lifecycle management support, enhanced errata management and automated provisioning of bare-metal servers, and other changes.

There are two possible transition techniques, according to Red Hat. One is to treat Satellite 6 like a "next technology" where existing workloads stay with Satellite 5 while new workloads are managed by Satellite 6. The more active approach is to transition all systems to Satellite 6 before decommissioning Satellite 5.

Red Hat Satellite users prepare for learning curve

Tim Moenk, senior systems engineer at Travelport, an online travel platform, just migrated to Satellite 6 as part of a Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 move. He attended a session at Red Hat Summit last month to get a look at the roadmap and prepare for what's next.

There's pressure within the company to create a more efficient IT operation, and that may mean moving to containers, he said.

"They want us to run leaner and meaner," Moenk added.

For the transition from version 5 to 6, Eric Pronko, operating systems engineer at the University of Pittsburg Medical Center, recommends IT pros do a full export of their data to a new server rather than transition within the same server.

"Everything is completely different with the 6 product," said Pronko, who hasn't run Satellite 6 in production yet.

Will Darton, systems engineer at Navy Federal Credit Union, is building Satellite 6 as a new deployment rather than upgrading from an older version. He spent a few weeks acclimating to how things work with Satellite 6, as content view and the way things are organized are all different.

"I like a lot of things about it but the learning curve is very steep," Darton said. "Give yourself a lot of time -- lots of time."

One of the users waiting for 6.1 to become generally available this month is Michele Newman, a senior Linux engineer at Ace Info Solutions, a federal contractor based in Reston, Va. She needs some of the new features it offers, including isolated capsules and Puppet support.

"Essentially, doing a host group with Puppet and applying it to the systems is easier management," Newman said.

Robert Gates covers data centers, data center strategies, server technologies, converged and hyperconverged infrastructure and open source operating systems for SearchDataCenter. Follow him on Twitter; @RBGatesTT.

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