Home Office wins award for ‘Best use of Cloud Services’ at the 2015’s Computing/ BCS UK IT Industry Awards


This November QA Consulting joined the UK’s leading technology companies and professionals at London’s Battersea Park for 2015’s UK IT Industry Awards.

The awards focus on the contribution of individuals, projects, organisations and technologies that have excelled in the use, development and deployment of IT in the past 12 months. With over 1,300 guests in attendance, the awards bring together the industry’s leading players for the biggest night of the year.

The Home Office won the award for the Best Use of Cloud Services, for their EBSA solution. This is a project that QA Consulting (incorporating NETbuilder Academy) have been involved in delivering since its inception 2 years ago. They were able to leverage QA Consulting’s expertise in DevOps and their partnership with Puppet Labs to design and build out this Enterprise grade platform.

QA Consulting would like to congratulate our customer, the Home Office on their wins at the 2015 Computing/ BCS UK IT Industry Awards. It was great to see Jackie Keane and Neil Butler collect the award on the Home Office’s behalf.

QA Consulting attends the London Puppet Camp


Puppet Lab’s second London based camp of 2015 was held last week at Cavendish Square.  It was an opportunity for Puppet to demonstrate using Puppet to new and existing users as well as show of some new feature, such as their Application Orchestration feature.  Whilst also providing Puppet users the ability to demonstrate how they are using Puppet as well as extending their network with other Puppet users, Puppet’s employees and partners.

The day held three key themes; the first as you would expect was for Puppet to show new features and demonstrate how they are used, then there was their quest to be able to automate anything connected to a network and finally the management of the development lifecycle of Puppet.

The day kicked off with a keynote from Ryan Coleman, a Puppet Project Manager where he gave an overview of Puppet, the thinking behind it and its core features, such as the node cycle, Puppet Forge, PuppetDB, MCollective and R10K. Hi keynote also touched on new and improved features, such as support for Bare Metal provisioning, Docker provisioning and automation, the new more resilient and monitor-able JVM based Puppet server, node graph view in the console.

Another new feature that I was looking forward to was Application Orchestration. I work on a project that have built their own application deployment tool around Puppet, as it seems other Puppet users have too, so I was excited to see how Puppet’s implementation would work. The keynote talk about App Orchestration was very top level, so it was good to see that they caught onto people’s interest and had organised a live demo for later in the day.

The App orchestration demo really helped to show how Puppet’s deployment mechanism and how it stays true to their origins by relying on the state and relationships of resources, but now we can do that between different machines. The demonstration showed the deployment of an application similar to the Puppet Forge and showed how puppet runs on various machines and waits for actions on others to complete before continuing. It also showed how App orchestration can be used in applications that need to scale, very important for an increasingly cloud based computing environment.

App orchestration isn’t finished yet either, still to come are features that will aid in zero downtime deployments, dynamic node hashes to allow you to dynamically scale and improved node and resource failure management.

Over the course of the day we were reminded about the number and variety of platforms now supported by Puppet, including all the major Linux distributions and a range of Unix distributions, such as Solaris, HP-UX and OSX, Windows, Bare Metal (using Razor in release 2015.2). This was also demonstrated by Matt Peterson from Cumulus Networks who are using Puppet to automate network devices.

Another interesting presentation was from Mark Boddington from Brocade, he demonstrated how he has managed to produce an easily maintainable Puppet Module for their API based services. It works by ‘walking through’ the API and reproducing this into a module. It can even replicate the configuration of a machine into a manifest so that you can quickly and easily use Puppet to maintain the configuration of existing Brocade instances. I can see this being extremely useful for use with other API based applications.

Aside from learning about new Puppet features and seeing some demos from the experts one of the key takeaways for me was to see how other people across the industry are using Puppet and nothing shows this better than the guest speakers who came and presented how they are doing so. Many of the talks touched on how to control a development workflow for Puppet. There is an increasing move in the industry to treat infrastructure as code, but at the same time (at a slower speed) to introduce, manage and scale a development workflow around the code – many of the speakers touched on how they are managing their workflow.

John Faultly, Unix Engineer, Fidelity demonstrated how Fidelity’s first iteration of a workflow meant that it could take days or weeks for new code to reach production, even though continuous integration tests could be completed in less than 45 minutes! However, by refactoring this workflow they managed to radically shorten the time it takes to deploy fixes, whilst also being able to stabilise releases. A combination of lints, code reviews, spec testing, deployment to new test server instances and code reviews manage ensure that there is a lot of trust in the code long before it finds its way into production. Interestingly, the use of lints, spec tests and catalog compilation means that 80-90% of errors are caught early!

Another interesting talk came from Iain Adams, IT Build Manager, LV=, he spoke about how he developed a SonarQube plugin for monitoring puppet code. It includes features for identifying duplicated code, areas of complexity and syntax errors. Still to come are a unit testing metric and custom puppet modules metrics. At the moment it only supports Puppet 3.8. Selfishly, as I’d like to be able to upgrade the version of Puppet being used on my current project, I’d like to see it cover a broader range of versions, this way it could monitor your current code quality and technical debt, but it could also be used as a good indicator of the technical debt you’d inherit if you were to upgrade versions.

I’d definitely recommend attending a Puppet Camp if you have a chance, you’ll have the chance to see first-hand how Puppet is used and hopefully get some inspiration on how to best use Puppet in your environment. You’ll also get to see the new features being used and network with the experts, which is always an invaluable experience.

Nathan McLean, DevOps Consultant

NETbuilder sponsors PuppetConf

slide1_992x530This October NETbuilder will be travelling to Portland, Oregon to sponsor PuppetConf. This year’s event takes place from the 5-9th October at the Oregon Convention Center.

Automating IT has become critical to business strategy. In order to stay competitive, we need to continually educate ourselves on the newest IT innovations that will boost our productivity and let us respond more quickly to business needs.

PuppetConf is a must-attend IT automation event of the year and provides you with five days of Puppet intensive knowledge. The best minds in technology congregate to discuss leading-edge thinking in DevOps, continuous delivery, cloud management and software-defined networking, to name just a few topics.

This years conference takes place over the course of five days; October 5-7th holds the Puppet training courses where you can attend a variety of sessions including an “Introduction to Puppet” and “Puppet Practitioner” as well as many others. This year’s Puppet Contributor Summit on October 7th where new and existing contributors of the Puppet ecosystem come together for a hack day.

October 7th sees the conference part of Puppet Conf kick off, here we will be presented with some great sessions allowing you to become familiar with Puppet, Puppet modules and related technologies to advanced tips and tricks for using Puppet, PuppetDB, Razor, Facter and more.

NETbuilder are excited to showcase our services at PuppetConf and make our presence in the market known.

NETbuilder & Puppet Labs collaborated for Automate Everything

Automate Everything

On June 25th 2015, NETbuilder and Puppet Labs joined forces to present the market with ‘Automate Everything’. The event took place at Marks Bar, located in the basement bar of HIX, Soho. The space is great for private events with the atmospheric cocktail bar that runs the length of the room. It is by far one of the coolest bars in London boasting leather chesterfields, smoky mirrors, ambient lighting and a traditional bar billiards table.

The event marked the beginning of NETbuilder and Puppet Labs partnership. Through doing so, NETbuilder can not only supply the market with cost effective Puppet trained consultants, but also aggressively priced solution design and delivery capability. Therefore supporting new and existing implementations of their configuration management tool and offering new and existing customers the opportunity to engage with NETbuilder, and take advantage of our full range of DevOps delivery capabilities and services.

1Tony Lysak, CEO of NETbuilder, kicked off the event with a high level overview of NETbuilder. He demonstrated how we operate in the market and how our value proposition can benefit our customers through a reduced reliance on contractors, the scalability and stability that is achieved through our Academy, and an increased delivery capability with the option of skills transfer. Following on from Tony was NETbuilder’s Enterprise Practice Manager, David Njogu, who introduced the audience to DevOps; “DevOps is not a product. It’s a combination of different things. It’s a technology, a culture, a process”. David also created an understanding amongst the audience on how choosing NETbuilder as your DevOps and Configuration Management partner of choice will help you to Automate Everything.

After the audience was made aware of how utilising NETbuilder capabilities can work for them, Nathan Rawlins, VP, Product Marketing, Puppet Labs provided the audience with the obligatory introduction into Puppet Labs and their abilities. He also introduced us to how we can move faster with Puppet Labs and how Automation will help you scale to meet the demands of the next decade. Nathan’s section was concluded by a live Demon from Puppet Labs’ Senior Technical Solutions Engineer.

Neil Butler, Programme Manager for the Immigration Platform Technologies (IPT) Programme at the Home Office, gave a presentation centred on agile delivery at scale for government. He highlighted how the Programme uses NETbuilder services to implement a function responsible for aspects of environment design, creation, support and management of the full lifecycle of environments.

2Once all the presentations were finished the fun began. The majority of the audience stayed for networking along with drinks and canapés.

Automate Everything with NETbuilder & Puppet Labs


NETbuilder and Puppet Labs are joining forces to provide the industry with an exclusive overview of how the Home Office implemented a function responsible for all aspects of environment design, creation, support and management of the full lifecycle of environments.

Automate Everything with NETbuilder and Puppet Labs will take place on the 25th of June at the much loved Soho spot, Marks Bar. We have a great line up in store for you including:

  • Tony Lysak, CEO, NETbuilder
  • Jackie Keane, IPT Programme Director at the Home Office
  • Andrew Lambert, UK Country Manager, Puppet Labs
  • Nathan Rawlins, VP, Product Marketing Puppet Labs
  • David Njogu, Enterprise Practice Lead, NETbuilder
  • Steven Thwaites, Senior Technical Solutions Engineer, Puppet Labs

The event will provide you with an overview of NETbuilder’s work at the Home Office, introduce you to the new partnership between NETbuilder and Puppet Labs and also discover how using NETbuilder as your DevOps and Configuration Management partner of choice can help you to Automate Everything.

Click here for more information on the event and to book your place.

NETbuilder finalises Puppet Labs partnership


We are excited to announce that NETbuilder have become Portland based Puppet Labs first UK partner.

NETbuilder carefully select which technology vendors we engage with as partners. Puppet Labs has a leading status in the configuration management market makes them a perfect addition to NETbuilder’s roster of vendors we are proud to work with.

Puppet Labs were founded in 2005 by their current CEO Luke Kanies. Since their founding, Puppet have gone on to become the leader in IT automation, with over 300 employees around the world. Their software allows businesses to make rapid, repeatable changes and automatically enforce the consistency of systems and devices, across physical and virtual machines, on prem or in the cloud. Puppet Enterprise is used in thousands of the world’s leading companies, relying on Puppet Labs software to deploy their own software faster, be more productive, and gain insight into infrastructure configurations and operation.

Our partnership with Puppet Labs will allow NETbuilder to not only supply the market with cost effective Puppet trained consultants, but also aggressively priced solution design and delivery capability, supporting new and existing implementations of their configuration management tool, and therefore offering new and existing customers the opportunity to engage with NETbuilder, and take advantage of our full range of DevOps delivery capabilities and services.

NETbuilder are excited to start our journey with Puppet Labs.

The NETbuilder Academy moves to Manchester


After months of planning we have moved the NETbuilder Academy to the bright lights of Media City, Manchester.

This move was important for the growth of our academy. Tony Lysak, CEO commented “The NETbuilder Academy has grown at over 100% per year since opening in 2011, so well in fact, that we launched our offerings in the United States last year and have already seen huge traction.

Currently the academy has deployed 150 graduates into some of UK’s biggest companies. The Manchester facility adds the capacity to train a further 400 consultants per annum”. The new offices officially welcomed their first batch of trainees on Monday the 2nd of March. Alongside our new offices we have invested in luxury accommodation where our trainees will be living, creating a campus feel for NETbuilder within Media City.
If you are interested in joining the NETbuilder Academy please apply at NETbuilder.com.