What is Chef in DevOps?

by StarAgile

June 22, 2020
Category DevOps


Everything You Need To Know About Chef in DevOps

Your company might have dedicated individual teams of development and operations working tirelessly round the clock for maximum profitability and revenue generation. Yet, the results do not seem to match the expectation or the projections. Often, the reason for this is the lack of collaboration between teams. 

Different teams and departments of a company ought to collaborate and communicate effectively for the company to function fluidly and maximize its efficiency. This is where DevOps comes in. 

What is DevOps?

DevOps is the combination of the two words' development' and 'operations'. It is the software development methodology similar to agile methodologies that seamlessly integrates both software development and operations. 

 

DevOps is not a singular software or a division of a company. Still, it is a philosophy that companies can choose to adopt if it can benefit the business. DevOps is the recent advancement in the realm of IT organizations. It has paved the way for the collaboration of testing, development and operations team in a common platform. 

DevOps has the potential to provide numerous advantages to businesses. Some of them include: 

  • Enhancement of efficiency
  • Improving teamwork
  • Minimizing errors
  • Acceleration of recovery time
  • Increasing the return of investment (ROI)

One of the boons of DevOps is the ability it provides to automate many tasks and processes of an organization. 

What is Configuration Management? 

The concept of Configuration Management (CM) can be explained well with a classic example of a DevOps team member attempting to install a software or a software update across many devices or nodes of an organization. 

Suppose you want to install software on one or two of your devices, it is straightforward to do so since you always have the repository at your disposal from which you can download it. But what if you were required to do the same for hundreds or even thousands of machines of an IT organization? It would not be a suitable option to sit on every one of the devices and install the software in each of them. 

 

Configuration Management (CM) is an efficient discipline of automating large tasks. In addition to automating tasks and processes, Configuration Management (CM) also enables you to keep track of different versions of the software, their updates and any other changes made to them round the clock. So, if something goes haywire or if there are any errors, the DevOps team member can always revert the version that was previously stable and working well. The implementation of Configuration Management (CM) calls for the requirement of useful Configuration Management tools. 

What is Chef in DevOps?

 

Chef in DevOps is an automation tool. It is a Configuration Management (CM) tool that lets you automate processes and tasks across numerous servers and other devices of an organization in simple steps. Such a framework is highly beneficial to a company. 

One of the secret sauces of Chef's success is its declarative approach to programming. This automation tool eliminates the need to create complex and lengthy scripts of code that can potentially wreak havoc in the long run. With a few clicks, you can deploy and manage software applications across all devices of your organization. 

Hence, Chef DevOps tool can be used even by the members of the team that may not be very well-versed with programming. It also reduces the dependency of the team or organization on a singular experienced programmer. However, a rudimentary knowledge of the Ruby DSL language is necessary because that is the basis on which Chef has been developed. 

How Does Chef Work? 

Chef comprises of three crucial components:  

Masters 

Master devices are the location where any changes are initiated, updates are created, and records are maintained. The information from the workstations is pushed on to the Chef server. 

Recipes are created on these workstations to implement policies on the worker nodes. The workstations make use of 'Knife'. A Knife is a command-line tool that makes it possible for master devices to communicate with the Chef server. 

The Chef Server 

The Chef Server is what enables fluid communication across all devices of the workplace infrastructure. The cookbooks, recipes and policies that are created on the master device are pushed to the Chef server where it is stored and can be pulled by the worker nodes. 

Worker Nodes 

The pull-based mechanism of Chef enables the worker nodes to communicate with the Chef server using the Chef client and obtain updates, new policies and any other relevant changes. Worker nodes are devices that are managed by the Chef server. Every node has a Chef client pre-installed in it. 

The changes or actions that the worker nodes undergo are popularly called "state changes". Any state change requires steps which are defined by a Chef cookbook created on the master device. 

By treating infrastructure as code (IAC), Chef in DevOps solves the problem of deploying servers and applications to any physical, virtual or cloud location irrespective of the scale. So, it doesn't matter if there are a hundred machines or a thousand, Chef can handle them just fine. 

What's more to Chef?                                                                              

In addition to a seamless integration of the DevOps automation tool in your workflow, Chef also offers the following: 

Chef Analytics 

Chef analytics is a feature of the Chef automation tool that provides real-time visibility into the changes happening on the Chef server. Included in this visibility are the three crucial W's: What, When and Who. 

  • What are the changes made on the Chef server?
  • When were the changes made on the Chef server?
  • Who made the changes on the Chef server?

Powerful features of the Chef Analytics platform like report generation, rules processing system, and audit mode make Chef one of the leading DevOps automation tools in the industry. 

Chef Development Kit 

The Chef Development Kit, also known as "ChefDK", is essentially a package that provides you with all the necessary tools needed for developing and testing Chef cookbooks and your infrastructure from any machine or device. 

Chef's Knife 

The Chef Knife is the command-line tool that enables a DevOps team member to interact and communicate with the Chef server. Developers upload any state changes to the Chef server from their master devices (a.k.a. workstations) that are then pulled by the worker nodes using the Chef client. 

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Benefits of Chef in DevOps 

Some benefits that the companies get by using Chef as their DevOps automation tool are: 

Consistency and Scalability 

Chef ensures consistency. All devices of your IT organization fluidly receive the same updates, software installations and deployments. By storing the current and desired states of your infrastructure, Chef can warrant that all your devices have unvarying states and ensure stability. 

By treating infrastructure as code (IAC), Chef can effectively automate, update and align hundreds or even thousands of systems. The heavy lifting is done by the Chef client, which is installed in every worker node. This allows the master systems to align the company infrastructure efficiently. This distributed approach makes Chef one of the most scalable automation tools in the world. 

Faster Deployments and Reduced Risks 

Speed and accuracy are essential traits to have for a successful IT organization. Chef enables you to deploy software and applications across your entire infrastructure using a few lines of code and some clicks on buttons.

This reduces the need for repetitive manual work where developers have to work on individual systems which are often impractical when there are thousands of devices.The automation process of Chef also reduces the scope for any error that would otherwise result from manual work.

Integrates with Any Cloud Technology 

Integrating your infrastructure on the cloud has a lot of implications for the company. However, such a task is not easy and can cause many roadblocks. The command-line tool Knife that comes with Chef enables a pain sailing integration of your IT organization's infrastructure with any cloud technology. 

Conclusion 

Adopting the latest development in related fields is an essential step towards success. DevOps is one such philosophy that IT organizations are readily employing in their work culture. 

Chef treats infrastructure as code (IAC) to improve scalability and performance. The effective distribution task method of Chef makes it efficient and is the reason why world-leading companies like Facebook use it extensively. Chef offers speed, accuracy and resilience. Unlike many other tools that require you to adapt to them, Chef adapts to your infrastructure. 

If you want to learn about Chef in DevOps do enroll for the DevOps Training at StarAgile or call us on +91 – 80502 05233