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Yahoo owned social media publisher Tumblr has created a new system for imposing more efficient, stringent control on data centers - and released it as open source software. The internally-developed system is now available on Github, but Tumblr admits it still needs refining and has appealed to data center developers for help.

The new tool – Genesis – speeds up the process of discovering new machines and reporting their hardware details to an inventory manager. The tool reports into [Phil?] Collins, an element of Tumblr’s inventory management system. Genesis simplifies the process of altering BIOS settings and configuring RAID cards. This makes the preparation of hardware - in readiness for the installation of any operating system – much quicker.

The tool was created to look after all the physical servers, switches and racks in Tumblr production environments, but has evolved to also support inventory of hardware, IP addresses and software.

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Automation for data centers

The open source tool, developed by Tumblr’s site reliability engineering and data center teams using Apache, has a stripped down Linux image suitable to boot by PXE. It also features a Ruby on Rails-based domain-specific language (DSL) which describes the tasks to be executed on the host Genesis DSL. This makes the installing of packages and issuing of commands easier. As a consequence, routine tasks like the stress testing of a system – in order to identify and eliminate weaknesses in the hardware before it is put it into production – run more efficiently.

The Genesis tool is a work in progress, however, according to the official Tumblr Engineering blog.  “Genesis is still in the early stages of development,” said the bog, “while we’ve met many of the goals we set out to achieve, there’s still much to be done.”

Tumblr has appealed for crowd sourced improvements to the inventory tool. “If you find a bug or have a cool idea, let us know and get involved by contributing code and documentation or participating with questions and suggestions,” said a notice on the Tumblr blog.