Chef is committed to using 100% open source code

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Chef decided to open up its entire portfolio of IT automation software as part of an effort to make it easier for organizations to build a DevOps pipeline using enterprise software.

As part of this effort, Chef has also launched Chef Enterprise Automation Stack, which combines Chef Infra for infrastructure management, Chef InSpec for maintaining compliance, Chef Habitat for application management, Chef Automate for managing hybrid clouds and Chef Workstation, a starter kit for launch. 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 too complex from a licensing perspective. This approach aligns Chef’s entire business model with providing support for open source software, he said.

At the same time, Chef is now open to closer collaboration with developers who wish to contribute code to its various projects. This is critical because code contributions are now the primary means by which many IT organizations help shape the direction of products as they evolve, Scobie noted.

Of course, many IT organizations today mandate the use of open source software or have instituted an “open source first” policy that makes it difficult to adopt any proprietary software.

Chef expects that by making it easier to consume its software through a unified open-source transition, it will be able to further accelerate the adoption of what is described as a “coded enterprise” for managing IT. Rather than manually configuring IT resources in isolation, this approach encourages organizations to adopt DevOps best practices that treat all aspects of IT, including infrastructure, as code, Scobie said, adding that Capacity is more important than ever as IT organizations must increasingly manage heterogeneous cloud computing environments.

Chef says this approach has already resulted in more than half of Fortune 500 companies adopting at least one module of its software and, in the fourth quarter of 2018, the highest level of reservations in the history of the company.

While Chef helped launch the IT automation category, competition in this sector has intensified. Chef and its main rivals Puppet and Red Hat are the main proponents of IT operations automation frameworks. Although the adoption of these frameworks has increased significantly in recent years, their use within IT organizations often remains fragmented, often resulting in islands of automation. Chef clearly hopes IT organizations will increase adoption of its software stack now that it’s based entirely on open-source software. Many organizations struggle to teach their IT operations teams enough programming skills to automate their processes. Without these skills, the adoption of IT automation frameworks within the context of a set of well-defined DevOps best practices often remains uneven at best.

—Mike Vizard

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