Chef has decided to open source its entire portfolio of IT automation software as part of an effort to make it easier for organizations to construct a DevOps pipeline using the company’s software.
A part of that effort, Chef also launched the Chef Enterprise Automation Stack—which combines Chef Infra for managing infrastructure, Chef InSpec for maintaining compliance, Chef Habitat for managing applications, Chef Automate for managing hybrid clouds and Chef Workstation, a starter kit for launching Chef—within a single distribution of Chef software. Chef Infra is the original Chef project around which the company was launched.
Corey Scobie, senior vice president of product and engineering for Chef, said the company previously offered a mix of open source and proprietary software that made engaging with some customers overly complex from a licensing perspective. This approach aligns the entire Chef business model around providing support for open source software, he said.
At the same time, Chef is now open to collaborating more closely with developers who want to contribute code to its various projects. That’s critical because code contributions are now the primary means through which many IT organizations help shape the direction of products as they continue to evolve, Scobie noted.
Of course, many IT organizations today either mandate the use of open source software or have instituted an “open source first” policy that makes it challenging for any proprietary software to be adopted.
Chef expects that by making its software easier to consume via a unified open source transition it will be able to further accelerate adoption of what is described as a “Coded Enterprise” to managing IT. Rather than manually configuring IT assets in isolation, that approach encourages organizations to adopt best DevOps practices that treat all aspects of IT, including infrastructure, as code, said Scobie, adding that capability is more important than ever as IT organizations are increasingly require to manage heterogenous cloud computing environments.
Chef claims that approach has already resulted in more than half of the Fortune 500 having adopted at least one module of its software and, in the fourth quarter of 2018, the highest level of bookings in the company’s history.
While Chef helped pioneer the IT automation category, competition across this sector has intensified. Chef and its primary rivals Puppet and Red Hat are the leading proponents of frameworks for automating IT operations. Although adoption of those frameworks has increased substantially in recent years, use within IT organizations often remains fragmented, often resulting in islands of automation. Chef is clearly hoping that IT organizations will increase adoption of its software stack now that it’s based entirely on open source software. Many organizations face challenges teaching their IT operations teams enough programming skills to automate their processes. In absence of those skills, adoption of IT automation frameworks within the context of a set of well-defined DevOps best practices often remains uneven, at best.