Automating System Builds and Maintenance with Cobbler and Puppet

Administration, Programming, Security
Location: Ballroom A8
Average rating: ***..
(3.00, 4 ratings)

Quickly, accurately, and reliably deploying new systems, across the entire spectrum of production, test, and development systems, is a constant challenge for system administrators and developers. At BlackMesh, we were able to automate this process by using the free, open source packages Cobbler and Puppet to quickly deploy different server images and install applications customized for each customer. Implementing Puppet simultaneously decreased our deployment time by a factor of ten while giving us increased flexibility and control. These speed improvements even enabled us to redeploy a server with a new purpose, such as moving a server from a database farm to a web farm, as quickly as installing a new server.

Puppet allows us to maximize code reuse by building different configurations for different projects all derived from the same base classes. Puppet’s configurability gave us the freedom to securely control the access to and the configuration of each server built. Puppet also enabled us to deploy network-wide changes from a central interface with granular control. Meanwhile, Cobbler functions as a disk imager on steroids, enabling us to define a configuration once and build servers to that profile time and again, but each time with the newest copies of packages and the latest customer-specific customizations. These improvements are extremely valuable to us as we consistently look for ways to optimize our customers’ servers in ways that are transparent to both the customers and the end users. In this presentation, we will show attendees how they too can leverage Cobbler and Puppet to build a quick, accurate, and reliable server build and maintenance system.

Eric Mandel


Eric Mandel is the CEO and co-founder of BlackMesh, a provider of information technology solutions for small and mid-sized businesses. Since 2003, Mandel has led the strategic direction of the company, building a strong base of global, diverse customers and growing the company by 100 percent each year. With over 16 years of experience, Mandel is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, addressing the many technology issues that face today’s emerging companies.

Prior to BlackMesh, Mandel served as development manager at Andrew Corporation, where he managed the maintenance and support of their E911 Emergency Cellular Location solution, and at ScoreBoard, Inc., where he managed development for ScoreBoard’s IS-136 product.

Jason Ford


Jason Ford is the CTO and co-founder of BlackMesh, a provider of information technology solutions for small and mid-sized businesses. He is responsible for setting the technology agenda for BlackMesh, as the company designs, deploys, and administers innovative managed hosting and managed services in both off-site and on-site locations to customers around the globe.

Recognized by Washington SmartCEO Magazine as one of the Washington, D.C.-region’s top CTOs, Ford brings over 13 years of experience in network architecture, design and implementation. He is an expert in building and managing enterprise servers for on-premise and hosted clients, with certifications in Sun Cluster, Veritas Cluster, and various other Veritas products.

Prior to joining BlackMesh, he served as senior network engineer for Govolution Inc., a credit card processing company, where he built and managed 50 servers for multiple platforms and operation systems performing financial transactions with banks and customers. Ford has held senior engineer and manager positions with Verio Inc., Heymax Interactive, and High Performance Technologies, Inc.

Ford holds a M.A. in Telecommunications – Management and Information Systems from George Mason University and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering Technology from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

  • Intel
  • Microsoft
  • Google
  • Sun Microsystems
  • Facebook
  • Gear6
  • Kaltura
  • Liferay
  • MindTouch
  • Novell, Inc.
  • Open Invention Network
  • Rackspace Cloud
  • Schooner Information Technology
  • Silicon Mechanics
  • Symbian Foundation
  • Twilio
  • WSO2
  • Yabarana Corporation

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