Puppet Scale Up with Apache/Passenger

Welcome back! I hope everyone had a good summer and recharged their batteries. Bonus points if you found time to play with puppet, too! Now that we’ve had a healthy break, let’s get back to it!

When we left the series in July, we had a Puppet master, a few nodes, were implementing the roles and profiles pattern, and used r10k to manage it all. However, we didn’t address scalability. Today, we’ll take a look at addressing this by using Apache and Passenger.

Scaling Up

There are two ways to scale – out and up. If we were to scale out, we’d be concerned with running multiple masters and synchronizing all data between them. That’s something we might look at eventually, but first we want to scale up, which is the process of providing more resources to our master. Since we are vSphere admins, we can easily increase the resources provided to the VM. For instance, our VM has 1 vCPU and 2GB of RAM. It would be easy, and helpful, to increase that, perhaps to 2×4 or 4×8 vCPUxRAM.

Unfortunately, system resources are not the only limitation in our system. Out of the box, Puppet uses WEBrick and scales to about 10 nodes. More than one nodes trying to talk at the same time will generate conflicts and cause some or all nodes to fail to receive a catalog. No matter the resources available, these limitations persist. The answer is to use a dedicated web server with a Rack-based application stack. While any server will work, if you don’t have a preference, then PuppetLabs suggests you use Apache with the Passenger mod. There is a lot of information on Puppet’s site about the limitations and the remedy.

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