Chef Introduces Habitat Builder, A SaaS Solution For Application Deployment

Chef made a name for itself by pioneering automated infrastructure configuration, but with its release Monday of Habitat Builder, the DevOps company is showing off its capabilities deeper in the application layer.

The new product introduces Software-as-a-Service delivery to Habitat, first released in 2016 to ease automation of the application lifecycle across cloud-native environments like Docker, Cloud Foundry, Kubernetes and hyper-scale cloud providers.

Habitat Builder, by implementing a service approach to Habitat's technology, looks to further simplify the process by which enterprise customers deploy code into those modern application environments, Marc Holmes, vice president of marketing at Seattle, Wash.-based Chef, told CRN.

[Related: Chef Adds Premium Workflow Management, Compliance Tools To Boost DevOps Platform]

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Chef's evolving focus reflects "the idea that the cloud, containers, distributed architectures are driving a shift to a more application-centric view of application delivery, rather than an infrastructure-centric view of application delivery," Holmes said.

"You can target any platform," he told CRN about Builder, which is a "big deal for our customers seeking to get to cloud-native architecture on their own terms."

Bill Chapman, technical director at Stark & Wayne, said Habitat immediately appealed to the Palo Alto, Calif.-based software operations provider that specializes in Cloud Foundry and cloud application deployment.

Stark & Wayne engineers took notice of the Habitat project and introduced it to a customer in its early days, seeing the technology as a new, vendor-agnostic means of automating the application lifecycle and deploying to Cloud Foundry.

The technology's other targets bring Chef even closer to the Docker container ecosystem.

Habitat Builder can package applications into containers, then send them to Docker Swarm, Kubernetes of Mesosphere orchestration schedulers across on-premises and cloud environments. It also adds a supervisor platform to enable management.

"We don’t want to have an opinionated view of what a cloud-native architecture should be. Where we think we can add value is offering a consistent set of services. In this case, it's a build service," Holmes said.

"Pretty much gradually every one is moving to cloud-native architectures now," he added.

Habitat Builder also natively integrates with the GitHub source code repository and Docker Hub for publishing containerized apps. It has some additional capabilities around simplifying package deployment on Kubernetes clusters or to Cloud Foundry.

For partners, Habitat Builder delivers new opportunities to service customers looking for cutting-edge software solutions.

Stark &Wayne can build an app with a Habitat plan, export it as a Docker container, push it into Cloud Foundry, then run it on-premises or in the public cloud. The applications that started in Habitat "have more knowledge of the world than just Cloud Foundry has," he said.

The agnostic nature of the technology means there's potential for discovering new application development and deployment methods, Chapman said.

"While we're a partner right now, we also stand to benefit quite a bit from the success of this ecosystem because we can start to use it as our standard development and architecture paradigm," Chapman told CRN.