Foreman is an open source tool with vast server lifecycle management functionality. It’s used to manage thousands of servers across various organizations, and has become the basis for several commercial products. In this article, we’ll explain how Foreman helps businesses overcome the challenges of building and maintaining modern IT infrastructures.

What is a system management tool? It’s a piece of software responsible for a number of tasks, which may include provisioning and management of applications, helpdesks, business systems, disaster recovery, networks, logs, automation, and more. If a good system management strategy based on the right tools is developed, it can have very positive results for an organization, including improved data security, faster deployment, and the optimization of everyday tasks. Foreman provides tools for provisioning, configuration, monitoring and automation, as well as update and installation management.

Provisioning with Foreman

Provisioning usually means setting up a server for a particular purpose, such as being the environment for your app. Foreman is good for managing bare metal servers and Cloud services from Amazon EC2, Google Compute Engine, Microsoft Azure and OpenStack, as well as virtualizations using Libvirt, oVirt, or VMware. You can also manage a hybrid cloud using Foreman, adjusting your infrastructure to your business needs.

Configuration and automation with Foreman

Server configuration is the process of adjusting settings and optimizing a server for better, safer and more stable performance. Foreman allows you to configure groups of hosts (servers) and offers reports monitoring for Puppet, Salt, Ansible and Chef, popular automation tools. They can help you manage a number of hosts in one go, or set up scripts for repetitive tasks, increasing your team’s productivity.

Monitoring with Foreman

Server monitoring allows operations teams to react early to problems, or even catch them before they have a chance to occur. This can prevent downtime and improve user experience. Foreman reports on your infrastructure and sends alerts when there’s trouble. It comes with a dashboard that’s both pleasing to the eye and very usable, but you can just as easily use plugins to integrate Foreman with tools you already use and receive alerts on Slack or Skype, for example.

Updates and installations with Foreman

With Foreman, you can easily install update packages to a single host or a group of hosts. This way, you can quickly adjust your entire infrastructure to new requirements, or protect yourself against security breaches. Foreman comes with tools for easier and faster installation, such as templates for installing operating systems, scripts or partitioning schemes.

Features for businesses

Foreman is a great open source tool with all of the functionality needed for managing even non-trivial IT infrastructures. Its robust community continues to build on the project’s foundations, which results in an impressive list of available features.

Horizontal scaling with host groups

Horizontal scaling is a popular approach for optimizing IT architectures. It means growing your infrastructure’s capacity by adding more machines, and therefore more resources. This is good for dynamic scaling and has almost unlimited potential (except for budgetary restrictions). With Foreman, you can group your horizontal hosts and modify their configuration once, to see the effects on all of them.

Audits and alerts

As part of its reporting and monitoring function, Foreman offers a detailed audit trail to improve security. Additionally, notifications are in place to check the activity of administrators and users, keeping track of changes made in each node and alerting you to potential risks.

API

Foreman’s powerful APIs (REST, GraphQL and CLI) allow you to manage your entire infrastructure through internal tools. If you find that Foreman doesn’t currently support a feature you need, you can integrate it with a third party solution that does, or build your own custom tool, such as a plugin.

Web UI

Foreman can be accessed and used from your browser. The UI is safe to use, built with modern technologies aimed at creating a powerful, efficient tool.

Large team support

Foreman is a great tool for both corporations and smaller companies. Most of its resources can be assigned to Organizations and Locations, and its flexible authorization supports multiple sites. Your infrastructure can be spread across different data centers and remote sites, thanks to management via a REST HTTPS API. These are only some of the features that allow efficient and secure work regardless of your team’ composition.

Remote executions

A plugin that supports job invocations allows for running commands on remote hosts with different providers (e.g. Ansible). You can schedule recurring executions, run concurrent control, and watch the output live.

Content management

A number of Foreman’s features help with managing various types of content. You can use a Standard Operating Environment (SOE) for added efficiency and lowered risk of compatibility issues. Content Hosts can be grouped (e.g. by function or company department) to make navigation easier. You can also use Content Views to filter out unnecessary information. Installations can be made to specific hosts or host groups, making your team’s job easier.

An active community

Foreman’s development community is in great shape. Only recently, a representation of the iRonin.IT team attended an event celebrating Foreman’s anniversary. We enjoyed presentations, discussions, delicious cake, and the opportunity to speak to people we’ve worked with remotely for so long.

Open source plugins and integrations for added flexibility

Foreman is a tool that can be easily tailored to your needs through plugins and integrations, either with third-party services or your own custom applications. Notable integrations include Puppet, Ansible and Docker. We have experience building Foreman plugins to serve the specific needs of our clients. If you find yourself facing challenges not solved by currently available tools, a custom solution might be just what you need.

Looking for the right team to help you build upon the vast functionality offered by Foreman?
Our experts have created an API that has been added to Foreman’s codebase, and we’re active members of the Foreman community.