Chef Software cooks up new Chef Delivery DevOps product

New workflow system covers app deployment as well as server config


ChefConf Chef Software has announced a new product for automating software deployment and the workflow of change management. Called Chef Delivery, it extends the company’s existing infrastructure automation product.

Chef Delivery is announced today at ChefConf, underway in Santa Clara, California.

At the heart of Chef’s platform is the idea of a Recipe, a text-based description (using the Ruby language) of how a server is configured. The Chef software is able to apply the Recipe to a server so that the desired state is achieved.

Chef Delivery extends this concept to handle application deployment including build automation, testing, approval and delivery into production of changes made by a developer or operations engineer. It also provides analytics so that businesses can track what changes are made. The idea is that maximising automation speeds up software delivery, and that both developers and operations have full visibility into what is happening, enabling better collaboration. Chef Delivery can also handle containerised applications, such as those using Docker.

Chef Delivery

Managing software change with Chef Delivery

Source code management is a key component of software change management, and Chef Delivery has its own built-in Git server. Use of this is not essential, but “for a streamlined workflow we recommend using the Git server inside Delivery”, Chef VP of product Alex Ethier told The Register.

Continuous delivery of software applications is nothing new, and Chef’s infrastructure automation software is often used alongside continuous integration tools such as Jenkins, an open-source project. Why is Chef not just integrating more deeply with Jenkins?

“We’ve been building solutions with Jenkins for many years,” Ethier said. “The challenge is that Jenkins in itself is great for running jobs, but managing full change is not just build jobs. To have a fully integrated solution that we control makes for a better product. We did not want to cobble together 4 or 5 different solutions.”

Chef will open source some, but not all components of Chef Delivery. “If you want all the governance, you will need the commercial product,” said Ethier.

The status of Chef Delivery is confusing. It is an invitation-only product initially, though Chef insists that it is not a beta program and is already in production with some customers. General availability is planned for late this year or early 2016, but anyone who wants to try it can put in a request. It is priced on a subscription basis, and currently runs only on premises, though a hosted version is a possibility in due course.

Chef is also talking up its virtual machine provisioning system, called Chef Provisioning. This goes beyond server configuration, to cover the entire process of creating and describing virtual machines on Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Chef has support for Linux and AWS, but is also working with Microsoft to support both Windows and the Azure cloud platform, and at ChefConf both Windows Server lead architect Jeffrey Snover and Azure CTO Mark Russinovich are on the speaker list. ®

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