Config Management Camp Gent 2017: Recap

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17 Feb 2017

Last week we attended Config Management Camp in Gent Belgium.

How did automation start? In the beginning Mark split light from dark …

There were 7 talks in the CFEngine devroom.

Christian Linden kicked things off with his presentation “Get set for getting
work done by CFEngine
“. He covered the basics of what you need to know when
getting started with CFEngine as well as some tips to help in debugging
policies.

After Christians Kickoff I talked about “Testing CFEngine Policy“. Why you should test, currently available testing frameworks, how to get started writing tests that produce TAP and or JUnit output and finally how to expand CFEngines test coverage while contributing to examples in the documentation.

Martin Simons wrapped up the first day with his talk “CFEngine Hero of IoT“. Martin brought a Raspberry Pi running Raspbian told us how he is using it to implement a motion-activated security system built with commodity hardware at home and then demonstrated how CFEngine can easily manage it and deployed a tomcat application.

The main topic of conversation on Tuesday was data. How to separate it from
policy, how to make use of external data, and how it can make your life easier in SURFsara.

Bas van der Vlies started us off with his talk “How to use the augments file
(def.json)
“. He showed how he defined a host specific data file that let him
easily override default values for a specific service/bundle. He discussed how
this has had great benefits for non CFEngine users in his environment, allowing
them to easily identify which service/bundles are activated for a host and
exceptions that each host is overriding.

Next Jurica Borozan talked about “Merging Technologies, ideas on using CFEngine with cloud and container technologies“. He discussed how his tag based classification system enabled host specific policies to be delivered and the varying ways that this common model could be applied to physical systems, docker containers, and cloud hosts leveraging the features available in each technology
stack. He finished up by demonstrating his policy that managed maintaining a specific number of AWS instances for a given image and how a simple change in his data source (a json file) resulted in nodes being provisioned or destroyed within 5 minutes.

Neil Watson gave a short remote talk “CFEngine Simplified with EFL“. He discussed the design philosophy of EFL and how you can leverage the framework to get things accomplished with CFEngine without having to know any policy.

I wrapped up talks with a short presentation on “The Masterfiles policy Framework: A short history and future direction“. I presented the lineage of the current policy framework, how we got to where we are today and how data (the augments file def.json) is very much at the core of how we expect to improve usability and ease future policy framework upgrades without having to edit policy.

Special thanks to Christian, Martin, Bas, and Neil for sharing your thoughts and presentations. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year!

Nick Anderson