June 21, 2022

Puppet and Agile Government: Adopting Infrastructure as Code


Government agencies are required to run agile IT operations while balancing compliance and security needs at scale: it's a huge task when you consider how quickly the landscape of IT moves. In this article, we will explore some strategies, including infrastructure as code, that can help you build a more agile government infrastructure.

Table of Contents:

What is Agile Government Infrastructure?

IT agility is the practice of maintaining security while keeping up with the organizational mission and changing needs. An agile government infrastructure will be able to handle scale, compliance, and security without losing speed of delivery.

Government agencies are facing a rising need for changes to their IT infrastructure. This need is becoming even more urgent as they continue to migrate operations to the cloud. Leveraging modern cloud applications and resources within an existing legacy agency environment requires IT agility to maintain the balance of security while keeping pace with an agency’s mission.

As the definition of the “traditional government workplace” continues to morph and change, agencies must rethink everything from security to compliance and basic agency operations. Geographical environments are shifting as employees operate on-site, remotely, or in a hybrid work style, and IT infrastructures must serve these workflow needs. Expanding, modifying, and optimizing agency operations with traditional methods and location-based hardware is inefficient, costly, and typically requires downtime.

Many agencies are realizing that the rate of threat evolution is outpacing their traditional methods for tracking and remediating vulnerabilities. Leaning into the world of DevSecOps and adopting a method of continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) for hybrid infrastructures can help agencies overcome these challenges.

A New Strategy for Agile Government

Today’s agency IT environments need infrastructures that can scale. Approaching scalability by looking at infrastructure as code is a great step in getting there. Infrastructure as code is the practice of treating an IT infrastructure as if it were software code. It is a mindset that defines a hybrid environment as a programmable language and treats the process of managing the maintenance and operations of the infrastructure in the same agile way that DevSecOps teams do.

Using infrastructure as code can help IT teams approach infrastructure using software development practices, such as version control, peer review, automated testing, release tagging, integration, and delivery. This is possible because even though IT infrastructures evolve, the main challenges that agency teams work through remain the same and are similar to those found in the traditional software CI/CD:

  • Identify challenges and issues
  • Develop solutions, then propose adoption into the main code
  • Prove a given change is safe and accurate by deploying it to a simulated production environment for testing
  • Deploy changes to a large part of the infrastructure for validation
  • Check the current state of the changes and remediate issues where necessary
  • Perform the above as quickly, efficiently, and securely as possible while remaining compliant

The Department of Defense (DoD) recently announced the need for infrastructure as code as a strategy for maintaining continuous integration and continuous delivery. According to Chris Hughes, CISO at Aquia and a consultant for DoD cloud operations, “[t]he strategy commits to the need for continued innovation through infrastructure as code, continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD), and DevSecOps to deliver innovation securely at the speed of relevance to keep up with adversaries.”

Working with Infrastructure as Code

Puppet pioneered infrastructure as code early in the DevOps movement, and Puppet solutions can help agencies implement an infrastructure as code workflow that maintains continuous compliance while reducing risk and cost.

With Puppet, government agency IT teams can leverage infrastructure as code with:

  • A software-based cloud migration, configuration, and single dashboard management tool
  • Software-enabled, automated compliance and security monitoring solutions
  • Automated security standards compliance and documentation, without manual intervention
  • Single truth configurations that enable faster, more reliable, and repeatable configurations and monitoring while removing manual efforts
  • Automated service updates that can utilize Puppet Tasks and Plans to establish a patch management workflow
  • Simple-to-use human-readable and writable programming that doesn’t require experienced programmers
  • Puppet Compliance Enforcement is designed to remediate and enforce compliance against Center for Internet Security (CIS) benchmarks.

Puppet’s solutions like the Puppet Forge and the Puppet Developer Kit (PDK) can help agency IT departments simplify cloud infrastructure automation. Modules supported by Puppet are tested and maintained in sync with Puppet Enterprise and are compatible on multiple platforms. With Puppet Forge, automating open source modules allows IT to bring in new technology and applications while leveraging configuration management policies and practices that are already in use.

The power to write their own code and create reusable modules with the PDK allows IT operations teams to continuously integrate changes as technology needs evolve. With the PDK framework, teams can build, test, validate, and deliver updates to applications and the infrastructure. With Continuous Delivery for Puppet Enterprise, the CI/CD of Puppet code is streamlined and simplified, positively impacting the speed of deployment and integration of changes.

Puppet’s approach to security and continuous compliance seamlessly provides agencies with unified control and visibility across hybrid cloud infrastructures. This ensures compliance with regulatory frameworks and internal security policies.

A Continuous Solution for Agile Government

Government agencies need to meet their evolving IT infrastructure objectives with an infrastructure-as-code approach. As a pioneer of infrastructure as code, Puppet was built for this. By implementing Puppet’s software-based, automated compliance and security solutions, IT departments can strengthen the total infrastructure lifecycle while remaining compliant. By doing so, IT infrastructure can remain agile and bring innovation through continuous integration and delivery while meeting the demands of growing government agency needs.

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