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Re: Quick cfengine poll...

From: Mark . Burgess
Subject: Re: Quick cfengine poll...
Date: Sun, 25 Mar 2001 00:30:06 +0100 (MET)

On  1 Mar, Andrew Mayhew wrote:
> Internal to the company that I work for we have been going over a
> process of evaluation the direction our system management is going to
> take.  Currently we use cfengine, but there seems to be a large push,
> primarily from our Software Engineering group to develop something
> from scratch ourselves.  Seems to me to be a big wheel reinventing
> project and will take a lot longer than they anticipate. Their major
> contention is that cfengine is not a valid enterprise management
> system and that it was never designed as such.  Or in their words:
>      Overall general design of Cfengine followed an evolutionary
>       process that did not initially target large-scale enterprise
>       architectures. Any eventual support for large-scale enterprise
>       functionality was added over time without a fundamental redesign
>       of Cfengine.  In order to effectively guarantee use in a
>       distributed enterprise environment, it may very well be necessary
>       to make deep fundamental design and implementation changes to
>       Cfengine to address the technical and business requirements for
>       Provisioning 2.0.
> They also seem to have problems with cfengine's ability (or in their
> view lack of ability) to scale to very large scale systems.  Could any
> of you out there give me some numbers in terms of systems which you
> are managing with cfengine.  Something like a cfengine client to cfd
> server ratio would be greate.  Anyone with systems spread over a wide
> area would also be a plus since in our situation we have host systems
> in various places around the US and Europe.
> I really believe that thier arguments are invalid and any support that
> I can get would be appreciated.
> Thanks-
> Andrew Mayhew

I think they are talking utter bull. The cfengine model is the *only*
model which scales. That doesn't make cfengine unique, but it makes
it right. There are folks using it on upto 5000 hosts that I know of.
That doesn't mean that you can't write a stupid configuration which
incorporates a serious bottleneck, e.g. by distributing everything
as master files from a single server...but that's an error in thinking,
not in cfengine.

As for large scale enterprise management, I have no idea what they mean,
since they don't actually specify (sounds like they misunderstood
something) but if 5000 systems isn't enough, I suspect that they're
going to be out of luck. Usually when people talk about revinventing,
it's  because they haven't really understood how to think in cfengine.
They're still thinking shell or perl, and don't understand agent based
control systems. 500-2000 hosts is quite common, from the messages
I get.

I don't know of explicit experience over very wide areas, i.e. different
domains off hand, but how hard could it be? Over that kind of distance,
it sunds unlikely that you would want the same configuration everywhere.


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