The Chef Win Series is a response to: "How has Chef changed our operations for the better, in the past 2 years since our shop adopted it?"

Chef Lifts Small Shops, Even More Than Large Enterprises:

It may not be intuitive to think of Chef as being a significant boost to the smallest of shops - as you might normally think of Chef as a way to automate hundreds, even thousands of nodes. For the large shop, the wins below may be helpful. For a small shop, they can make the difference between success and failure in many situations.

Series:

The Chef Win Series is a response to: "How has Chef changed our operations for the better, in the past 2 years since our shop adopted it?" Example:

The Chef Community Is It's Strongest Asset

Even more important than Chef the software, the community that surrounds Chef is what has sustained many of us through this recent period of change and opportunity.

We take part in the Chef community on  so many different levels:

  • Online chef.io
  • Local groups - formal
  • Local groups - informal
  • Chef superstars - see below
  • The IRC channel
  • Weekly Chef newbie hangout - Office Space
  • ChefConf
  • Personal relationships with other Chef users
  • Supermarket - cookbook repository
  • GitHub
  • Other local shops that use Chef
  • Blogs, like this one

The Chef Win Series is a response to: "How has Chef changed our operations for the better, in the past 2 years since our shop adopted it?"   Example:

Up to now, the large enterprise could beat the small shop in one critical area - deployments. Small shops simply don't have the army of ops engineers standing by for such efforts. If time is the resource, then machines are, historically, resource hogs.

No longer true. With Chef, we can sometimes even beat the large enterprise, because not only do we automate it, but once it's automated it's - uh - automated. Get it right once... "How many of those did you need?"

So now, we not only have some of the same stature reserved for the big shops, but if they're still not automated - which many are not, we might even be able to beat them at their own game.

That's kind of fun.

Windows Enterprise Stature

The Chef Win Series is a response to: "How has Chef changed our operations for the better, in the past 2 years since our shop adopted it?"   Example:

It wasn't always this way... a year ago I blogged about all the things that can go wrong when you try to learn Chef. My partner even got top honors at DevOpsDays as a speaker on the same topic.  It was a full house :)

What a Difference a Year Makes

Chef is just plain easy. Who'da thunk it? In a year, the tuturials have gone from brittle and long running to easy and almost foolproof.

You can still spend a bunch of time doing the mighty-meta, black belt, Kung Fu Chef - fancy stuff that pracitioners won't need for a while. Jeff is our Chef guy, and he can do stuff I don't even "get". But that's what makes him the pro. Read more »

The Chef Win Series is a response to: "How has Chef changed our operations for the better, in the past 2 years since our shop adopted it?"    Example:

Testing, Made Real

Two years ago I was trying to explain to my partner - an ops guy - why devs love automated testing. "You see, I often develop one thing, only to break something else without realizing it. This is my life as a dev. So I use automated regression testing as a safety net."

Like most things that devs say, my partner did not even pretend to listen. But he was implementing many new Chef recipes, and as he built them - especially with multiple recipes on the same box - he began experiencing some of this same need to automate regression tests. Read more »

The Chef Win Series is a response to: "How has Chef changed our operations for the better, in the past 2 years since our shop adopted it?"   Example:

Declarative vs Programatic Approach

Imagine that you are a manager. The declarative approach assumes your subordinate is trained, mature, and capable. You say "Go do xyz" and your subordinate knows exactly what to do. It is done. Read more »

The Chef Win Series is a response to: "How has Chef changed our operations for the better, in the past 2 years since our shop adopted it?"  Example:

You May - Therefore You Must

Consider this. You may wish to use Chef to manage a battery of 500 servers. Or if you're Facebook, maybe even thousands. For such a task, you must use a Chef Server to maintain the metadata about the nodes. You may, therefore you must.

I blogged about this mercilessly last year. I was not happy. Setting up a Chef server for what I do on a daily basis in my little lab is, er uh, ridiculous. Read more »

The Chef Win Series is a response to: "How has Chef changed our operations for the better, in the past 2 years since our shop adopted it?"  Example:

If you've been in IT very long, you've been burned by binaries changing underneath you as you are working. It could be in a Ruby update, or "DLL Hell" as we used to call it in the old client-server days. Or it could be jar hell in java, where a new binary slips in, and a JVM changes behaviors underfoot.

When an underlying binary changes and breaks your app, you have no idea which of the dozens of binaries it is, or how to restore it to a working version. In many respects, you're simply effed. Read more »

The Chef Win Series is a response to: "How has Chef changed our operations for the better, in the past 2 years since our shop adopted it?"    Example:

Composition

In our little lab, we're always experimenting with new stuff. In that kind of world, you never know what you're going to need until you need it. We might trash and recreate the same VM repeatedly until we get it right. "Oh yeah, forgot that part"

If we built a UI for this, it would look like a list of checkboxes, like so:

  Read more »

The Chef Win Series is a response to: "How has Chef changed our operations for the better, in the past 2 years since our shop adopted it?"   A perspective:

Claude Shannon formulated "Information Theory" over half a century ago, and it's still regarded as a transformational form of thinking, still an emerging piece of our zeitgeist.

It's biggest effect may be in your hand now - the mobile phone made it's biggest jump when signals shifted from TDMA to CDMA. Cliff Notes on that shift: with TDMA your conversation uses the entire channel for a chunk of time. With CDMA your conversation is just a part of the stream on that channel, making the capacity of the channel dramatically greater.

Chef and Information Theory?