What is Chef?

The chef is a tool used for configuration management and is closely competing with the puppet. In this article I’m going you share the complete details regarding why it is used, where it is applied, and its advantages in IT World.

So lets us start our discussion with,

Why Chef?

The software keeps on updating over time.  So to utilize the various new features of any software, we need to update the software version. And doing is a simple task if it is on one system. But if it a case of updating on multiple systems (say in any organization)  it becomes tedious and time-consuming. So to get rid of these repeated things, we need a tool like a chef to automate the configuration management.

What is chef?

The Chef is an automation tool that provides the way to define the Infrastructure as a Code(IAC). Infrastructure as a code refers to  managing the infrastructure by writing the code rather than the manual process. Some people refer to this as a programmable Infrastructure. It uses pure Ruby, a domain-specific language for writing the system configurations. DevOps Chef is capable of spinning hundreds of instances in less than a minute. It enables programmers and system administrators to work together instead of waiting for the developers to write the code and for the ops team to deploy them.

This configuration management tool serves the process of both developments as well as the ops team. Chef translates the system administration tasks to reusable definitions known as cookbooks and recipes. In these recipes, the authors can define the system's desired state by writing the code configuration. Then chef process that code along with data about the specific node where the code is running and ensures that the desired state matches the nature of the system.

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Irrespective of the infrastructure size, the chef can perform the following automation:

  1. Infrastructure configuration
  2. Application deployment
  3. Configurations across the network

Like a puppet, the chef uses a client-server architecture. Besides, it also contains an extra component called a workstation. Through Chef we can easily configure the pull as well as the push configuration.

Pull Configuration: In these types of configuration management, the nodes poll a centralized server periodically for updates. Since the nodes were dynamically configured,  pulling will be happening from the centralized server.

Pull Configuration: In this type of configuration management, the centralized server pushes all configurations to the nodes. Here the centralized server uses some commands to configure the nodes.

Chef Architecture:

The Chef architecture has divided into 3 components:

  1. Work Station: The workstation is the simplest term in the admin system. This work station makes the possible interaction with chef-server as well as the chef-nodes. It is the place where all the cookbooks were created as well as tested. At workstation Cookbook deployments take place. And we can utilize this work station to download the cookbooks created by the other users. While interacting with the chef, we also need to understand the following terms:
  • Development Kit: It contains all the packages that are required to use chef.
  • Chef- Repo: It is a directory of the workstation, where all the cookbooks were  present and maintained
  • Knife: This command enables the work station to communicate the content of its repo-directory
  • Test Kitchen: It provides the development environment to the work station which enables to create and test workbooks before they are distributed.

     2.Chef Server: It is the center of work stations and nodes. This contains all the cookbooks, recipes as well as metadata. The workstations send a cookbook to the server using the knife. And the nodes communicate with the server using the chef-client. If any changes are made to the infrastructure as a code, then they must be passed to the chef server to apply to all the nodes.

     3.Nodes: These refer to the machines that are managed (or) configured by the chef-server which may be virtual servers (or) the network devices (or) any other storage devices. Chef client makes the node to stay up to date and runs individually to configure them

What are the silent features of chef?

chef tool helps in speeding up the deployment process and software delivery. Being a  DevOps tool it helps in streamlining the configuration task and managing the company’s server. The following were the silent features of Chef:

  • We can manage a large number of servers with fewer employees
  • It allows continuity in the deployment process from building to the testing until the end.
  • Chef can be managed using different operating systems like Linux, Windows
  • It can be integrated with several major cloud service providers.
  • It also helps in managing risk at all stages of deployment.

What are the advantages of Chef?

Utilization of the chef has the following advantages:

Accelerating Software delivery:  When your infrastructure is automated with all the software requirements like creation and testing of new environments, software deployments becomes faster.

Increased Service Resiliency:  With the automated infrastructure, we can monitor for bugs as well as errors before they occur. Besides, it can also recover the errors more quickly

Risk Management:  It lowers the risk and improves compliance at all stages. Moreover, it reduces the conflicts during the development as well as the production environment

Cloud Adoption: chef can be easily adapted to the cloud environment. Here the servers, as well as the infrastructure, can be easily configured, installed, and managed by the chef.

Managing Data Centers and Cloud Environments: The Chef platform is capable of running under different environments. And it is capable of running all the cloud and on-premise platforms including servers.

Streamlined IT Operation as well as the workflow:  It provides a pipeline for continuous deployment from building to the testing.

What are the disadvantages of chef?

Utilization of the chef has the following advantages as follows:

  • Learning chef requires the steep learning curve
  • The initial set up is quite complicated
  • It lacks push, so it does not have immediate action on change. And the changes will affect as per the schedule.

Final Words:

Everything in this world has some drawbacks, so keep the cons aside and make use of chef advantages for the efficient running of your project. By reaching the end of this blog, I hope you people have gained some stuff regarding chefs regarding the need utilization in the IT industry. You people can get practical knowledge on chef configuration management at Chef Online Course