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Automated Hardware Provisioning in the Real-world

Sean Kane (New Relic)
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With cloud computing dominating the headlines, companies often view physical servers as much more difficult than they are worth, yet nothing truly provides as much performance and flexibility as hardware. Automated provisioning of physical server can help create a very agile foundation to any organization while providing the added benefit of deep system configuration and raw performance.

You should leave this talk with enough practical knowledge and examples so that they can implement an automated hardware provisioning system for your organization.

Recently at New Relic, we’ve had the need to provision over 60 servers at a time for large projects, and this has driven our need to automate the hardware provisioning process and create a reliable record of truth for our servers configurations.

In this talk we will dive into the protocols, tools and code that enable hardware provisioning and management, explain how they all fit together, and uncover gotchas and lesson learned. We will explore each component and how they can be used to enable an agile infrastructure, capable of keeping up with the accelerated pace of modern software development.

Topics covered will include:

  • Configuration Management Database (CMDB) – Single source of truth – What systems are in your environment – How are they configured – What IP’s and rack units are available? etc….
  • Domain Name System (DNS) – How you can use Dynamic DNS to find your BMCs at 2:00 in the morning
  • Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) – Automatically detect and register new devices in your network – High Availability – DHCP relays
  • Preboot Execution Environment (PXE) – Bootstrapping Burn-in, firmware updates, and OS installs – iPXE (open-source PXE – formerly gPXE/Etherboot)
  • Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) – Providing files to the PXE system
  • Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) – System Power management (power on, off, reset) – Remote PXE boot system – Query information about systems configuration and state
  • Baseboard Management Controllers (BMC) – Remote management and console
  • Red Hat/Fedora Kickstart – How do you automate the installation of Red Hat based Linux distributions?
  • Debian/Ubuntu Preseed – How do you automate the installation of Debian based Linux distributions?
Photo of Sean Kane

Sean Kane

New Relic

I am a long-time system administrator and operations engineer who has lived in places ranging from Alaska to Pakistan. I graduated from the Barnum & Bailey Clown College and completed two college internships with the CIA before going back to “real” school and getting 2 degrees.

In my spare time I enjoy photography and sharing with my children the endless wonders of science, the great outdoors, and rappelling down skyscrapers.