A multi-environment HPC-scale puppet infrastructure for compliance and systems automation

Raychel M. Benson, Edward Munsell, Nicholas Bertrand, Michael Baynton, Evan F. Bollig, Jeffrey McDonald

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


Unifying configuration management across High Performance Compute (HPC) and supporting infrastructure systems is a challenge commonly faced by research computing centers. System operators no longer have the luxury to manage one-off cases manually; automation is essential. Centralized tooling and site-wide configuration promises efficiencies, but the substantial differences between, for example, compute nodes and networking gear can dissuade operators from attempting to manage their entire fleet with a single tool. To solve this, the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute (MSI) at the University of Minnesota assembled an innovative collection of utilities for Institute-wide management of systems with Puppet 5 as the centerpiece. The innovative solution emerged from the need for more than a dozen system operators/administrators to coordinate changes across a medium- to large-scale data-center with over 1500 nodes. A centralized base configuration ensures all systems are inline with University security policies and other compliance needs, while the Puppet infrastructure additionally enables per-cluster or even per-node customizations as needed. This document presents the architecture of MSI’s orchestration and management infrastructure, as well as the workflow followed by operators to provision disparate systems with Puppet and ensure that quality, accountability, and compliance requirements are met. The resulting system is actively used in the day-to-day management of the Institute, including persistent infrastructure services, cluster head- and compute-nodes, and even networking equipment. The workflow described herein is recommended for similar research computing institutions, including those with as few as five nodes and two operators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Practice and Experience in Advanced Research Computing
Subtitle of host publicationRise of the Machines (Learning), PEARC 2019
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
ISBN (Electronic)9781450372275
StatePublished - Jul 28 2019
Event2019 Conference on Practice and Experience in Advanced Research Computing: Rise of the Machines (Learning), PEARC 2019 - Chicago, United States
Duration: Jul 28 2019Aug 1 2019

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series


Conference2019 Conference on Practice and Experience in Advanced Research Computing: Rise of the Machines (Learning), PEARC 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to acknowledge the insightful feedback and assistance from the MSI Operations team, the MSI Application Development team, and the Puppet Training team. Special thanks to Matt Mix for contributions to the Puppet infrastructure code-base and scaling benchmarks for the Mesabi environment. This work was sponsored as internal development by the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute under the University of Minnesota?s Office of the Vice President for Research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Association for Computing Machinery.


  • ACM proceedings
  • Continuous Integration
  • Git
  • Puppet
  • Systems Configuration
  • Systems Management


Dive into the research topics of 'A multi-environment HPC-scale puppet infrastructure for compliance and systems automation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this