orcharhino in the IT system house of the Federal Employment Agency (BA)
The IT system house of the Federal Employment Agency in Nuremberg relies primarily on orcharhino for the management of repositories.
“Repository management has clearly improved through the use of orcharhino“
– Stefan Bock,IT engineer, Federal Employment Agency IT system house
Tobias Wagner (TW): What systems do you have in place?
Stefan Bock: Originally, we only had SUSE Linux Enterprise Server in use. Now, however, systems with Red Hat Enterprise Linux have been added.
TW: Why were you looking for an automation solution?
Stefan Bock: We have had Foreman in use so far. Now a second operating system was added, which we had to migrate. So we needed a unified solution so we didn’t have to synchronize all the software across two different systems. The problem here is the numerous different systems we have to support. This starts with SLES 12 and SLES 15 and also RHEL 7 and 8. The high number of repositories with sometimes several version strings at the same time generates a lot of staging effort. We were looking for automation for this.
TW: How and why did you become aware of orcharhino?
Stefan Bock: We already had Puppet and Foreman in use. On this basis, we started an evaluation with Katello and came across orcharhino as a result. Since we need to synchronize SUSE repositories, orcharhino was the product of choice. One of the crucial points was that the included SCC Manager was written by the ATIX company itself . Another important aspect is that ATIX provides support for this. This is particularly important in the government environment.
We have been using the open source project Foreman and Puppet for five years now. Katello we had also long in the back of the head, only this could not support SUSE for a very long time. Now ATIX is very active in the open source community, so there is now a solution for this. For our requirements, orcharhino, for which there is just support, was the right product.
TW: What is orcharhino used for at the moment?
Stefan Bock: So far, we have only used it to manage repositories.
TW: What has changed since you started using orcharhino?
Stefan Bock: I have to say up front that we are not yet productive – but this is not due to orcharhino, but currently to internal processes. But for us, the big advantage is that with orcharhino we can cover several operating systems with one tool and also simplify such things as staging etc. Repository management has clearly improved with the use of orcharhino. When rolling out a major release, we used to take a script controlled approach. In other words, we had to replace the entire repositories on all managed systems. However, we always had systems that fell out of line. Now we can control the whole thing much better through automation using Activation Keys, Content Views, and Lifecycle Environments.
TW: How many servers are you currently managing with orcharhinoon your test system?
Stefan Bock: We are planning to use orcharhino on about 5000 SLES systems with different versions of SLES 12 and also SLES 15. In the Red Hat area we are then at about 100 systems with currently RHEL 7.9 and 8.3. The major release 8 servers will then be upgraded to RHEL 8.5 using orcharhino. We can already say that these will all be connected in the productive environment.
TW: Are these physical servers or virtual servers?
Stefan Bock: There are physical servers, but we currently assume that at least 2/3 of them will be virtual servers.
TW: What are you currently planning or what feature would you like to see for orcharhino?
Stefan Bock: In general, we are very satisfied right now. We are simultaneously in the process of building our own cloud solution. Therefore, we try to share the Ansible Modules for orcharhino. There are still a few small challenges here and there, but the connection for software management works very well. If you ask what else we would like to see in addition, these are only very specific things. One thing would be, for example, that there would be some sort of environment function like there is for Puppet, also available for Ansible. But as I said, this is already very special.
TW: Thank you very much for your time and the pleasant conversation!
Field of activity
As an IT service provider of the Federal Employment Agency (BA), the IT System House is entrusted with the development and operation of IT processes and the creation of IT and communication solutions.
The BA Information Technology Division is made up of the IT Control Department, which is assigned to the BA Head Office in organisational terms, and the IT System House. In total, BA information technology employs about 2,000 people – of which about 170 work at the head office and about 1,300 in the IT System House.
About the IT System House of the BA
The IT system house serves users on 170,000 networked PC workstations, for example, in the employment agencies (AA) and job centers. This also includes an efficient infrastructure, a communication network, and computer centers. The BA Information Technology thus operates one of the largest IT landscapes in Germany and continues to develop it.
The BA Information Technology Division operates two highly efficient central computer centers at the Nuremberg site. A total of 10,000 servers are located there, around 6,000 of which are virtual.
Tobias Wagner (ATIX AG) talks to Stefan Bock, an employee of the Federal Employment Agency, about how he uses orcharhino and works with it every day.
Stefan Bock has been working in the IT systems house of the Federal Employment Agency for more than 20 years. Since then he has been working there in the Linux environment and is mainly responsible for release management and software deployment.