Configuration management or “infrastructure as code” can provide a common language for application developers and operations specialists alike to describe the infrastructure requirements of an application. By capturing these requirements in code, bootstrapping becomes a repeatable process, and insights from operations teams supporting the application in a production environment can be fed back to the developers in a virtuous cycle.
As an example of what this might look like with some current tools, I’ve created a starter kit for using vagrant, veewee, and a bit of puppet to automate the building of virtualized infrastructure for a Rails 3 application. The end result is a VirtualBox virtual machine described in code (from a Veewee basebox definition of the basic virtual hardware to a Puppet manifests describing the necessary packages and bootstrapping). This means that down the road, an environment in which your application will run can be repeatedly built and all of the steps of that process are both visible and modifiable, with changes captured in source control.
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