The Future of Puppet Dashboard

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Nigel Kersten

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Oct 10, 2012, 1:02:28 PM10/10/12
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(This mail has been sent to puppet-users, but bcc’d to puppet-dev and puppet-announce to try and keep the conversation in one place.)


Summary:

* We are stopping investment in Dashboard
* Most Dashboard functionality will be replaced by two new open source services
* Some Dashboard functionality will be replaced by a proprietary application
* The Dashboard will continue to be open source and we're happy to help people take over maintenance
* If we don't get a new maintainer, we will announce a date to EOL Dashboard


Details:

If you’ve been following the development of Puppet Dashboard over the last year or so, you’ve almost certainly noticed that it hasn’t been getting much love from Puppet Labs.

We’ve been thinking about this for a while, and we’ve decided that we’re not going to invest more in the Dashboard. It will get security patches and some minor improvements over the next few months, but we’re treating it as an evolutionary dead end.

We were planning to have some code ready for the replacement services before making this announcement, but after questions at PuppetConf and after the recent Dashboard update, we’ve realized that being transparent is the right approach.

We’re generally moving the Puppet platform in a direction that is more aligned with service-oriented-architecture, with standalone services for specific functionality that own their own data.  Monolithic apps like the Dashboard that store a variety of data types don’t fit well into this world.

You’ve seen the first moves of this with PuppetDB, where we have a standalone, open source service with great APIs that is dedicated to catalog and fact storage.

The ENC functionality in the Dashboard will be replaced by an open source, standalone service.  The report storage and basic report viewing functionality from Dashboard will become part of PuppetDB, and will be open source, just as the rest of PuppetDB is. Work has recently started on both of these projects. We will be working on data migration scripts from Dashboard to these new services.

We will also be working on a new graphical application that provides an interface to these services, but one more focused on workflows and advanced use cases, and this application will be proprietary.

This is the model Puppet Labs is looking to follow from now on. Open source services, with great APIs and simple GUIs just like PuppetDB, and proprietary graphical applications that are more opinionated in terms of workflows. We believe this is a simple line that brings a lot of clarity to the difference between our open source and proprietary applications.

We’re still in the business of making Puppet a great open source platform, and that’s not going to change. We will not be creating any secret APIs that are just for use by Puppet Labs. We will be building our proprietary apps on exactly the same APIs as everyone else has available to them.

We believe this keeps us honest in terms of keeping the open source platform strong and functional, as well as Puppet Labs being fair and equitable to the rest of the ecosystem compared to the applications we’re building a sustainable company around.

We are not taking the Dashboard code base closed source.  Even though it’s never really attracted a development community around it in the same way that Puppet and MCollective have, if there are people who are committed to its existence, we’re more than happy to help people take on the maintenance role.

We do think that it ultimately will need to be completely rewritten to take advantage of the new ENC and PuppetDB report storage, and it needs a general update to a newer version of Rails, but just as with *any* other open source application that builds upon our platform, we will help anyone who wants to take this on.

We don’t have firm dates for when the replacement services will be ready, but we expect their first releases to be out by the end of the year.  Once both of these are ready, and we have migration scripts for your data, we’ll announce a complete end of life date for Dashboard unless we have replacement maintainers.

Again, if you love Dashboard enough to want to maintain it, this is your chance. 

I encourage and expect public discussion about this topic, but if you wish to convey your thoughts privately, you can always contact myself or Luke at:


Nigel, CTO
email/jabber: ni...@puppetlabs.com
IRC : nigelk

Luke, CEO
IRC: lak


cheers,

Nigel Kersten

--
Nigel Kersten | http://puppetlabs.com | @nigelkersten
Schedule Meetings at: http://tungle.me/nigelkersten
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