Chef IT automation invigorates legacy apps amid cloud surge

Nancy J. Delong

It truly is taken nearly four many years, but the Chef Habitat IT automation resource has strike its significant preliminary roadmap plans and started to enjoy a critical role among enterprises that want to modernize legacy apps.

At its launch as an open up supply challenge in mid-2016, Chef Software manufactured Habitat one particular of the most important parts of a renewed IT automation technique. Chef had risen to prominence in configuration management, a discipline that stood to be overtaken by the rising container craze. Chef Habitat released a packaging format that bundled alongside one another purposes and their dependencies and decoupled them from fundamental server operating methods and hardware to make them deployable and transportable, with or without the use of Linux containers.

Having said that, the notion of Chef Habitat took a even though to sink in among enterprise IT shops. Several IT execs at ChefConf in 2018 did not plainly realize how Habitat was different from Docker Linux containers and Kubernetes Helm charts, for example. Further more puzzling the concern, Chef Habitat is technically complementary to containers and Kubernetes it can export any software that is been built with Habitat as a container and deploy it to Amazon or Azure container registries.

“Chef struggled to articulate it, but you will find a persuasive story there [for Habitat] about obtaining purposes beneath greater control, irrespective of their fundamental infrastructure,” mentioned Charles Betz, analyst at Forrester Investigate.

Chef Habitat and Chef Automate — alongside one another at past

Chef’s 2016 technique update also released Chef Automate, an umbrella management resource for IT automation that would bring alongside one another all of Chef’s merchandise. These also integrated Chef Supply, since renamed Chef Infra, which carries out configuration management tasks on server infrastructure, and the Chef InSpec compliance-as-code resource.

Chef built-in InSpec with Chef Automate as element of the program in 2017. But Chef Habitat, which represented the most radical departure from Chef’s common configuration management resources, remained different right until past thirty day period, when Chef Habitat one.five started to feed its info to Chef Automate dashboards.

Chef struggled to articulate it, but you will find a persuasive story there [for Habitat] about obtaining purposes beneath greater control, irrespective of their fundamental infrastructure.
Charles BetzAnalyst, Forrester Investigate

The most important benefit of Chef Habitat’s integration into Chef Automate will be centralized visibility and management of a number of Habitat operates, users mentioned.

Chad LarkinChad Larkin

“Any time you can enhance the observability into an automation resource, it aids make the case to management that the resource is dependable,” mentioned Chad Larkin, DevOps remedy architect at Early Warning Providers, a economic expert services organization in Scottsdale, Ariz. “We can use Automate to search inside Habitat Builder and see all the variations of all the dependent deals that are functioning, which is visibility we did not have prior to.”

Chef Habitat one.five also integrates with Chef Automate’s native set up utility, solitary sign-on, backup and restoration capabilities, so the two can be deployed alongside one another much more very easily. End users can also put in edition one.five applying on-premises resources these as Artifactory, and deploy instances of Habitat Builder on premises, which will occur in helpful for some enterprises in remarkably protection-delicate, air-gapped environments.

“Chef Automate would make our protection workforce content, simply because it presents them one particular location to search and make confident every thing is compliance with InSpec,” mentioned Christopher Maher, senior software program engineer in Alaska Airlines’ e-commerce division, an early adopter of Chef Habitat.

Christopher MaherChristopher Maher

In time, Chef Automate’s dashboards will hopefully display significant vulnerabilities in software program deals deployed with Chef Habitat and automate patches by Chef Infra, Larkin mentioned. Chef reps mentioned both of those capabilities are on the product roadmap.

Chef Habitat teaches legacy apps new IT automation tricks

Some enterprise customers have utilised Habitat and its Kubernetes Operator for cloud-native apps in the past two many years, but Chef reps did not disclose what proportion of its users in good shape that profile. In the meantime, among enterprise shops now speaking publicly about Chef Habitat, the most important role for the resource so considerably has been in bypassing containerization for legacy apps, even though including container-like portability and automated deployment to them by a nicely-understood toolset in Chef Infra.

“As an airline, we’re usually likely to have things on premises simply because of regulatory compliance,” Maher mentioned. “But we haven’t been applying Habitat in Kubernetes… that surroundings has its personal automated tooling, these as Azure DevOps.”

Thus, it truly is unclear what Chef Habitat’s role will be as Kubernetes and containers get in excess of, but it will get time prior to that happens, mentioned Forrester’s Betz. Chef Habitat could perhaps enjoy a role in legacy app migration to cloud and containers by its ability to export app deals into containers, he added.

“Chef Habitat would not resolve Chef’s Kubernetes difficulty to a selected extent, but Chef is nicely-encouraged to recognize that if they jump ahead, another person else will occur in to assist customers get from issue A to issue B even though they are screwing about with issue Z,” Betz mentioned. “There is certainly a role for them in that cloud migration system, and supporting infrastructure as code on edge devices as nicely.”

For Early Warning Providers, it truly is not however selected what role Chef Habitat will enjoy as greenfield apps move to containers and microservices. But in the meantime, placing legacy apps, notably Home windows apps, into containers to velocity up their deployment represents too considerably of a time expense and mastering curve, Larkin mentioned.

“Chef Habitat pipelines are now in our strategic program as we build out a Kubernetes surroundings for greenfield apps,” Larkin mentioned. “Most people loves to discuss about greenfield, but not how brownfield is likely to get to the similar location without rewriting legacy apps, which at the velocity of small business is impractical.”

Developers also do not want to get the time to discover container orchestration concepts and rewrite apps that may well serve an critical goal but aren’t tied to the most pressing small business advancement attempts.

“A critical portion of the software program in our on-premises info heart relies on a Home windows app built on a PowerShell script,” Larkin mentioned. “We are not likely to get the time to instruct individuals about Docker when we can export a offer by Chef Habitat that decouples it from the fundamental OS, so it can run anyplace, without switching any commands.”

In the meantime, Alaska Airways ideas to use Chef Habitat to align its on-premises legacy apps with the cloud-native apps it truly is deploying in Microsoft Azure.

“Our huge target is to make all the servers that host components of our web page adhere to the similar styles, and get to the similar stage of automation,” mentioned Alaska’s Maher.

Maher’s workforce utilizes Chef Habitat to split down monolithic servers in its on-premises QA and test environments into a microservices-like chain of solitary-provider instances, and make their deployment standardized and repeatable. This 12 months, the workforce ideas to roll out Chef Habitat in its manufacturing on-premises infrastructure as nicely.

“I want developers to not even recognize the place an app is functioning, simply because the practical experience is the similar,” Maher mentioned.

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