Chef Adds Premium Workflow Management, Compliance Tools To Boost DevOps Platform

Chef, a popular and pioneering IT configuration management platform vying with a handful of competitors in a rapidly heating DevOps market, Tuesday added two premium products and a new consulting practice to help introduce DevOps culture to enterprises.

The new hosted tools automate compliance verification and collaborative workflow processes, eliminating much of the risk associated with rapidly developing and deploying applications onto complex infrastructure, Jay Wampold, vice president of marketing at Chef, told CRN.

The Seattle-based software developer simultaneously introduced an Enterprise Transformation Practice to help large organizations deploy Chef and embrace DevOps methodology, Wampold said, although the company would much rather enable systems integrators than become one.

[Related: Chef Partners With Microsoft To Train Partners in DevOps-style Azure Deployments]

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Over the past two years, DevOps, and the notion of accelerated application deployment through treating infrastructure as software, has gone from being a "movement" to being a real market -- one that's widely measured and tracked, Wampold said.

"It’s the market term that describes the journey that every company is on to becoming a software business," Wampold said.

Research firm Gartner estimates DevOps will be employed by one-quarter of the Global 2000 by 2016, and related technologies will drive $4 billion in sales by 2018.

Chef, like the few other prominent players in the arena, is an open-source technology, and its monetization is dependent on higher-level products and services.

Chef Delivery, which became generally available Tuesday, is available through a premium subscription. The pipeline tool that directly implements DevOps-style workflows enables collaboration by managing complex change across the entire software stack.

Chef Compliance -- built from technology Chef obtained through the acquisition of German software developer VulcanoSec -- for the first time introduces compliance policy expressed as code, moving compliance verification into the software build process.

"You can version it, you can test it, and by doing this you're putting it into the DevOps operating model as code, which enables you to be more compliant," Wampold said.

Early in its history, Chef partnered with innovators who pioneered DevOps methodologies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google.

"We've been out evangelizing the DevOps movement since the very beginning," Wampold said.

The next wave of Chef adoption was characterized by large retailers -- companies that weren't traditionally early technology adopters but felt business pressure from e-commerce vendors and needed a high-velocity development engine to compete.

Target, Best Buy, Macy's, Nordstrom and many others, over time, wanted help beyond just automating configuration management of servers. They were looking to automate workflows for managing software throughout its life cycle, Wampold said.

Much of IT still works in what Wampold called "a constant state of recall," with software being released into production only to be pulled when unforeseen problems manifest themselves.

Applications deployed in production are like crash test dummies, he said, and regulatory compliance and security are typically an afterthought.

"The right way to do DevOps is a world where infrastructure and applications and compliance must be rapidly deployed in a verifiable, repeatable and safe manner," Wampold said.

To help enterprises understand that process, Chef is launching its consulting practice.

Under the leadership of Justin Arbuckle, who was chief architect at GE Capital, a business Chef shepherded through a major DevOps transformation, the consultancy will work with business executives to introduce real organizational change.

While the practice delivers Chef technology to enterprise customers, Chef much prefers to do that side-by-side with partners, Wampold said.

"There's a huge opportunity for system integrators to build a practice around what is arguably the hottest market in IT now," Wampold told CRN. "Our goal is to engage this ecosystem, to help them play a leadership role in driving DevOps practices."

The consulting practice is just a means to an end.

"We're in the software business, but we're doing it because customers need help," Wampold said. "But we're hoping we can share what we're good at with the SI community so they can drive this forward."

Matthew Scott, vice president of public cloud and professional services sales at Datapipe, told CRN the Jersey City, N.J.-based MSP has already leveraged Chef's consulting practice to jointly engage customers on the topic of rethinking IT methodology.

Scott, who led North and South American sales at Amazon Web Services before founding DualSpark, an AWS consultant later acquired by Datapipe, said working with Chef makes it easier to convince large organizations to change cultures and workflows.

"When you look at patterns and practices associated with DevOps, there's the technology, then there's the culture," he told CRN.

Chef Delivery will also help in that mission by implanting workflow processes governing how software changes get pushed into the organization directly into the product.

"Chef Delivery has taken a lot of those lessons learned, the professional services stuff you almost copy and paste between organizations, steps from test to QA to production, some things we've found that are almost universal, and brings those processes into the technology delivery itself," Scott said.