CFEngine and Bigelow crack the code for unified configuration management
Bigelow Laboratory is a cutting-edge scientific exploration observatory, dedicated to the study of single-celled ocean microbes, conducting fieldwork on the open seas and analysis of satellite images of global ecosystems. Its primary research is focused on the biogeochemical process of the world's oceans to advance society's understanding of the interactions between maritime ecosystems, global climate and the environment.
"At Bigelow Laboratory, we're conducting important oceanic research in the 21st century," said James Genus, system administrator, at Bigelow Laboratory. "We're dealing with mission-critical, time-sensitive research everyday - so a failure to any component of our core IT infrastructure could be devastating."
With more than 15 dedicated scientists directing multiple research projects at a time, Bigelow needed to feel secure that any mis-configured devices would not bring down IT systems - causing them to lose key research. Genus continued, "Some of our research projects are staged for 90 days and is supported by large amounts of data. Any infrastructure failure could cause full data loss - forcing scientists to start all research projects from square one."
Unfortunately for Bigelow Laboratory, it was this very situation that sparked the initial alignment with CFEngine: "Our relationship with CFEngine was bred by necessity. Several years ago, our servers were targeted by hackers and we lost production time when the systems went down. To prevent this from happening again, we uncovered the free, open source product offered by CFEngine."
CFEngine provides Bigelow Laboratory with a policy-based configuration management system - delivering automated configuration and maintenance of computers, from a policy specification. CFEngine is a fully automated solution that can be used for all life-cycle phases - from build to deploy to manage to audit, with continuous maintenance and report, on or offline, on all major operating systems.
"After using the community version of CFEngine for a short time, we quickly realized it was a solution worth paying for," said Genus. "Our research is just too important to lose. It only makes sense to take the next step with CFEngine Nova 2.0."
With Nova 2.0, customers like Bigelow Laboratory can become an integral part of the next-generation intelligent revolution for datacenters - whether these infrastructures are physical, virtual or cloud-based. Nova will enable Bigelow Laboratory to quickly set up and reserve an on-demand virtual network for scientists. The solution quickly loads and manages configurations in a unified fashion, reserving virtual networks and automatically bringing servers back up if they should fail. This not only prevents loss of critical research, but also saves Bigelow Laboratory time and money.
CFEngine not only powers Bigelow Laboratory to more effectively manage their IT configuration management needs, but also guarantees all systems are in a steady, working state. The solution operates on any platform and can be loaded on any piece of hardware. Nova also delivers comprehensive, unified views of the IT landscape - with the ability to present business-centric, unified reports to management. Working together, the CFEngine and Bigelow Laboratory can ensure business-critical data is always available and reliable.
"Regardless of what happens with our infrastructure, CFEngine gives me the peace of mind that we're up and running smoothly. And if it's not, I know it can be working in minutes. The bottom line - with CFEngine, I sleep at night," Genus commented.
"Nova 2.0 represents the best-of-breed automation solution, bringing multiplatform repair and policy-based compliance to Fortune 2000 organizations," said Thomas Ryd, CFEngine's CEO. "Companies such as Bigelow Laboratory need an inexpensive commercial enhancement to accommodate new industry demands."
For more information on Nova 2.0, view CFEngine's product presentation at the Nova info page.