This week’s highlight: “Chef 11: Interview with Lucas Welch, Director of Communications at Opscode”

Can you explain briefly what Chef is?
Opscode Chef is an open-source systems integration framework built specifically for automating at scale. Using Ruby-based 'recipes' and 'cookbooks' of code commands, Chef makes it easy to deploy servers and scale applications throughout an entire infrastructure. Through a combination of configuration management and service-oriented architectures, Chef makes it easy to create fully automated infrastructure, while simplifying systems management. Chef is available as an open source download, a SaaS subscription, or as software installed behind the user's firewall.

What’s different about Chef compared to other automation solutions such as Puppet?
Puppet provides a declarative model for systems administration. It works well in small, mostly static environments, with low complexity. Opscode Chef provides a more flexible automation framework that allows enterprises to model their current workflow, at any scale, from development through to deployment and operations. Chef is based on primitives that create patterns that can be bent to any workflow/environment. Puppet is based on declaratives that can't be changed.

You recently released Chef 11. What are the major enhancements compared to the previous version?
Chef 11 was re-written from the ground up and leverages best-of-breed infrastructure technologies including the Erlang programming language and PostgreSQL database, delivering a rock-solid automation platform that can easily scale up to 10,000 nodes from a single Chef server – which is far greater than any previous Chef generation. Opscode is also two tiers of commercial support for open source Chef users (who are running Chef 11) covering both live system support and cookbook code troubleshooting. Other enhancements include:

  • Comprehensive Testing: Chef 11 features the Pedant Testing Suite, delivering robust testing capabilities that can be executed with a single command, automating more than 2,000 end-to-end tests that ensure the Chef server is installed and working properly.
  • Easy Installation: Chef 11 comes packaged with a 'one-click' installer, enabling easy and rapid deployment of Chef regardless of IT environment.
  • Enhanced Windows Support: With the Pedant Testing Suite, Chef 11 includes automated testing across seven different versions of Windows, improving functionality and integration within Windows environments.

What resources (blogs, webinars, events) do you provide to get a solid technical understanding of Chef?
The most visible resource is the open source Chef Community, which is an important, active and vibrant online community where users can find recipes and cookbooks for everything from Windows to Hadoop, as well as a wide range of best practices, instruction guides, and more. However, the most important and helpful resource is likely our Documents page, where users can find out everything they need to know about Chef, from getting started, to basic deployments, to advanced use cases, recipes, cookbooks, patches and more. We're working hard to make our Documents page your one-stop-shop for all things Opscode Chef.

Who owns Chef?
Chef is an open source systems integration framework stewarded and licensed by Opscode.

Which language is Chef written in?
The back-end API is written in Erlang. The front-end is Ruby.

How is Chef licensed?
As a free, open source download, a SaaS solution, or as enterprise software installed behind the firewall. The latter two are commercial solutions sold through a subscription model.

How many contributors / commits do you count?
Over 1,000 individual contributors, 170+ corporate contributors and tens of thousands of registered users. Open Source Chef has been downloaded nearly 2 million times in less than four years of availability.

Which functionalities is the community particularly focused on?
That's a tough question to answer because the Chef Community is so diverse, active and large that there are few "core focus" points. That said, ensuring Chef works seamlessly with MySQL, Apache and the many public cloud providers are frequent topics of conversation and code contribution, as is Chef + Windows.

Can you give us examples of typical use cases for Chef?
We call it the "three C's of Chef": Configuration Management of servers in physical data centers, private and public clouds; Continuous Application Delivery in any environment; and Cloud Management for public, private and hybrid clouds. The vast majority of use cases for any of the three flavors of Chef fall into one or more of these categories. We have solution pages on each of these use case available here, as well as a wide range of customer success stories available here.

Which prerequisites should enterprises meet when interested in using Chef?
There are no specific prerequisites needed to use Chef. However, familiarity with Ruby within IT and your Dev teams will be helpful, as is a willingness to deploy infrastructure as code for greater agility and less risk.

Tell us about your collaboration with Dell and Chef integration in Crowbar – Dell’s deployment mechanism for OpenStack.
We're excited that Dell has embedded Opscode Chef in Crowbar and are very appreciative of the patches and cookbooks Dell has contributed back to the Chef Community. Dell has been a great partner in the OpenStack project and we look forward to more collaboration in the future.

Thank you, Lucas.
You’re welcome, Rafael.


Datameer: “Getting Started With D3.JS” by Christophe Viau

Pentaho: “Make Your Voice Heard! – 2013 Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study”


Food Fight Show: “Hangops - Chef 11”

Canonical: “Canonical and Dell expand joint PowerEdge Server engineering and support” by David Duffey

Cloudscaling: “OpenStack DIY, Distributions and Systems” by Azmir Mohamed

OpenStack Foundation: “OpenStack track in Cologne, Germany”

OpenStack Foundation: Upcoming Events

OpenStack Foundation: “Introducing the OpenStack Operations Guide”

OpenStack Foundation: “A Pretty Good Place to Be” by Alan Clark

Opscode: “Chef 11 Server: Up and Running” by Joshua Timberman

Opscode: “Demo: Continuous App Delivery w/Opscode Chef”

Opscode: “Turn it to 11: Upgrading From Chef 10” by John Keiser

Rackspace DevOps Blog: “Transitioning to LittleChef”

Rackspace DevOps Blog: “Vagrant Now Supports Rackspace Open Cloud” by Tomaz Muraus

Rackspace DevOps Blog: “Security on the Open Cloud” by Hart Hoover

SUSE: “Moving to Open Development: OpenStack / Crowbar / Chef on SUSE” by Andreas Jaeger

SUSE: “openSUSE release & openSUSE conference: registration and call for papers” by Marita Werner

SwiftStack: “A Closer Look at Software-Defined Storage”


“Crowbar 2 Planning 2013-03-14” by Rob Hirschfeld - Personal Youtube Channel


Please find detailed information on all contributors in our Wiki section.


Twitter: @RafaelKnuth