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With Distelli, Puppet container management makes play for DevOps shops

As CI/CD pipelines go mainstream in the DevOps boat, Puppet shops will have a new option from a familiar vendor.

Puppet container management tools will soon have an answer for enterprise shops that want one source for both application release automation and infrastructure management.

Puppet has acquired Distelli, a 2-year-old startup in Seattle that offers three products: Kubernetes Dashboard, which builds containers, tests apps and can continuously deploy containerized applications to test, development and production environments in multiple clouds; VM Dashboard, which does the same for VM-based apps; and Europa, a Docker container registry with security features such as role-based access control.

Tight integration between Puppet and Distelli capabilities could simplify customers' DIY DevOps pipelines, said Rob Nelson, a Puppet Enterprise user at a large enterprise that he asked to not be named.

"Having a standard way to build a pipeline would help," Nelson said. "I would like to have more confidence that everything is going to work without having to go back over all of it every time."

Nelson's company uses Puppet Enterprise for configuration management, along with continuous integration (CI) tool Jenkins and version-control platform Git to deliver applications, and he said he'd like to see improved integration between Puppet and those other tools.

That includes more standard data formats supported in Puppet plug-ins for Jenkins and Git, and Puppet Enterprise runs that kickoff automatically and immediately based on events in the pipeline. Nelson also said he's interested in how Distelli's software will be wrapped together with a VMware vRealize Automation plug-in Puppet announced at last month's VMworld.

Puppet's container, CI/CD ambitions face noisy market

I would like to have more confidence that everything is going to work without having to go back over all of it every time.
Rob NelsonPuppet Enterprise user

Puppet container and continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) products will enter a market already full of vendors that claim to have end-to-end DevOps automation capabilities and the best integration with container orchestration platform Kubernetes. Formidable competitors such as Red Hat, with its popular OpenShift product and Ansible configuration management choices, are well-prepared to do battle.

Most mainstream IT shops have yet to settle on DevOps pipeline tools, and most of those shops also know Puppet, which could smooth the way for a relatively unknown vendor in Distelli. But enterprises that have already decided on a full DevOps stack are unlikely to change course.

Puppet's move to acquire Distelli may also kick off a wave of similar deals, analysts suggested.

Companies such as CoreOS, HashiCorp, Apcera, Apprenda, Heptio and Containership are among the potential targets of established players such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat and others, said Jay Lyman, analyst with 451 Research.

Distelli is a relative unknown, but vendors and enterprise IT shops are willing to consider new vendors to contend with a new type of software architecture based on containers and microservices.

"It requires a different mindset, rather than a traditional tool just adding container support," said Rob Stroud, analyst at Forrester Research. Even recently released DevOps automation tools may soon be outdated in terms of the number of components they were built to address as microservices proliferate, he said.

Many enterprises now considering DevOps pipeline tools also want to consolidate the number of vendors and tools they work with, Stroud said, and it will fuel the trend among vendors to offer end-to-end sets of products. There are also some managed service providers such as CloudHesive and TriNimbus that offer customizable DevOps pipelines as a packaged service.

Distelli addresses container threat, for now

Configuration management tool vendors, such as Puppet and Chef, face an existential crisis brought on by a meteoric rise in the popularity of Docker containers and container orchestration tools such as Kubernetes. Last year, Puppet demonstrated some value in container management, and company founder Luke Kanies argued that the rise of containers was no different than that of virtual machines.

However, under a new CEO this year, Puppet has drastically changed its container strategy. In May 2017, the company previewed Lumogon for container inspection, which it acknowledged was a "minimum viable product." The project still hasn't seen general availability, though Distelli's development team will bolster those efforts, said Omri Gazitt, chief product officer at Puppet.

Puppet was attracted to Distelli because its support for legacy apps that run on VMs "meets the customer where they are," Gazitt said, while its container orchestration tools can help move apps forward at the same time. Distelli also has both SaaS and on-premises versions, and the two companies already have enterprise customers in common, he said.

Puppet and Distelli will need to improve automation and multicloud management capabilities to fend off competition and become a tool of choice in the CI/CD discussion, said Stephen Elliot, analyst with IDC.

Other potential areas of development for Distelli under Puppet include a streamlined workflow and security features such as multifactor authentication, as well as embedded policies. Monitoring that incorporates analytics, as well as cost management features, could also join the to-do list.

Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for TechTarget's Data Center and Virtualization Media Group. Write to her at [email protected] or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

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