Poni v0.5-4-g6e6a332 documentation


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Poni is a systems management tool for defining, deploying and verifying complex multi-node computer systems.

Poni helps managing systems in many ways:


These are some of the challenges that Poni attemps to address:

  • Full automation (read: scriptability) support.
  • Deployment so easy and repeatable that all developers, testers, admins and support engineers are able to rollout their own playground environments.
  • Repeatable multi-tier software deployment.
  • Configuring N frontend nodes to talk to M backend nodes. What happens when you add or remove a few nodes?
  • Auditable configuration management over as much as possible of the deployed software stack.
  • Integrating with multiple hypervisor (or “cloud”) providers.
  • Optimizing the total time spent deploying a build from scratch for development and testing purposes.
  • Traceability for configuration changes.
  • Complexity of deploying different management systems.
  • License cost and poor feature match of proprietary hypervisor implementations for fast-paced development activities.
  • Managing configurations of any existing 3rd party and open-source software included in the solution stack.
  • Common interface for configuring settings for all of the components in the stack.
  • Producing reliable, up-to-date information regarding network addresses and the different network connections between nodes.
  • Deep integration with the software stack that is deployed.
  • Zero-downtime upgrades for a multi-tier, redundant system.
  • Dynamic deployment for nodes and different features: must be able to leave out sub-systems and large features and still be able to deploy a whole, functional environment.
  • Post-deployment administrative operations: starting/stopping components, online/offline nodes, checking node/component status, etc.
  • Deployment-time dependencies (e.g. DB backends are deployed before DB frontends, package repository is deployed before nodes that require packages from it).


  • Built for automation: all commands can be run from scripts, parameterized and with proper exit codes.
  • Provides a holistic view to the entire system, all the nodes and their settings for configration file templates.
  • Provides a poni audit command for verifying all deployed files. Can also diff the “unauthorized” changes.
  • Possible to support multiple hypervisors.
  • Deployment is fast enough to be done from scratch for most purposes. Base VM images do not contain any software, which helps reducing manual CM effort.
  • The entire system configuration is stored in a single directory tree that is version controlled using Git. Full history of changes is visible as commits.
  • Dynamic information collection from templates: pieces of information can be collected and reports produced out of them. Allows drawing network diagrams, defining firewall rules, etc.
  • Provides multiple ways of controlling the deployed software post-deployment: custom “control commands” which are written in Python or simply by running shell commands over a specific set of nodes.
  • Custom control commands can have dependencies: useful for installation commands that need to be executed in a certain order.

How Poni is Used

  1. Bundle software-specific configuration file templates and installation scripts into “Poni configs”. Typically one config represent one software component (for example DB, monitoring agent, HTTP server, etc.) Custom remote commands (e.g. for executing the installation script) are also defined in this step.
  2. Create node templates for the different node types. Configure each node type to include one or more Poni configs.
  3. Instantiate the node templates into node instances. Multiple nodes can be created from a single node template. (poni create-node)
  4. (Optional) Automatically provision the nodes from a private or public cloud provider. Can also use pre-created HW-based nodes or pre-deployed VMs. (poni cloud init)
  5. Deploy the templates, software packages and installation scripts to the hosts. (poni deploy)
  6. Run the installation scripts. (poni control NODES COMMAND)
  7. DONE, system is up and running.

The node creation, VM provisioning and software deployment steps are typically executed from a single script in order to provide an easy method of deploying from scratch.

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