Staples Slashes Deployment Cycles with Self-Service Provisioning + More

Staples is one of the world’s largest makers of office supplies, with brick-and-mortar retail and ecommerce retail offerings. With thousands of virtual machines in multiple data centers, they chose Puppet to enable self-service VM provisioning and reduce burden on IT operations for increased efficiency and innovation.

Benefits of Using Puppet:

Cut deployment cycles

from weeks to minutes.

Expanded PaaS-like self-service

for VM provisioning beyond sysadmins.

Automated private cloud tasks

for management and maintenance.

Challenge: Optimize Private Cloud Usability + Management

With thousands of VMs across multiple data centers using technology like Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), Red Hat Satellite, Apache, Tomcat, NodeJS, MongoDB, Oracle, and Redis, Staples needed to give their internal development teams self-service provisioning capabilities to reduce dev cycles and repeat tasks. But just giving them VMs wasn’t enough – they needed to automate VMs devs can use right away, consistently, through a convenient user interface.

Before Puppet Enterprise, skill gaps kept their best infrastructure just out of reach: “We had a lot of development teams just chomping at the bit to start expanding the number of tools that they used in-house,” said Jeff Quaintance, senior cloud and automation engineer. “[We] had just a limited number of people with a set of very specialized skills who could automate.”

Jeff, Tom Sabin (IT manager for cloud and automation), and the Staples infrastructure team knew they needed a configuration management system that could enhance system accessibility beyond sysadmins. Puppet’s community, wealth of free modules, and ease of onboarding made Puppet the clear choice.

Results: Dev-Ready Self-Service Provisioning + Enhanced Pipelines

“We’re not just handing out servers; we’re handing out servers with middleware or database on top of it, moving up the stack. Puppet has really helped us get to that point.”

Jeff Quaintance, Senior Cloud and Automation Engineer, Staples

Starting with Open Source Puppet, they migrated to Puppet Enterprise to expand quickly to other teams and add IBM AIX to their OS mix. Puppet Professional Services, Training, in-house expertise, and ongoing support from Puppet made the transition smooth and laid the foundation for better cloud infrastructure.

With Puppet Enterprise in place, the Staples team automated cloud management tasks and created a self-service provisioning interface for development and platform teams. They also instituted a Puppet center of excellence to bring consistency to automation engineering across the organization, from app developers to systems engineers and testing.

Staples used Puppet to improve the flow of code from development through to production. Puppet code is stored in a repository, and r10k pushes approved, merged code to development and QA environments. Once testing is complete, a separate process is used to push code that’s passed tests into production.

“It allows us to put that governance in place ... so we have the right level of review prior to anything going out to production,” Tom said.

Make Infrastructure Automation Easier for All with Puppet

Puppet helped Staples bridge the gap between teams with little to no infrastructure experience and the resources they need every day. That opened up new opportunities for efficiency, growth, and innovation across the organization. Grab some time with the Puppet team to discuss how better automation and configuration management can help you leverage your IT pain points for stronger DevOps and better business outcomes.