Chef shifts towards app automation with 2.0 release

The vendor lays out the three pillars of its automation platform during Chef Conf this week

Automation specialist Chef has signalled that it is shifting focus from infrastructure automation to application automation. The difference is subtle, but important to the vendor.

Julian Dunn, director of product marketing at Chef told Computerworld UK during a pre-brief last week that "where the world is going is app centricity, organisations are more interested in quickly delivering business apps".

Dunn says that customers were increasingly stretching Chef's software from its original purpose of infrastructure automation to do app automation and compliance.

This led to the acquisition of German compliance automation specialists VulcanoSec in 2015, creating the InSec compliance automation tool, and then released Habitat, a tool for automating apps in production regardless of where it runs, making them more portable and infrastructure agnostic.

Now, with the release of Chef Automate 2.0 during Chef Conf in Chicago this week, the company is focusing on building a platform on these three pillars: infrastructure, apps and compliance, setting the company up for wherever the future takes it.

The 2.0 release is a “ground up rebuild” of the software on a Go-based microservices architecture, which “unifies infrastructure and applications work and enables enterprise organisations to rapidly and securely build, deploy and manage any application, legacy or modern, in any environment”, as the company put it in a press release. This enables a “closed-loop ‘detect, correct, automate’ process for infrastructure management everywhere”, it added.

As Dunn puts it: ”Automate was built around infrastructure automation, and we tried to layer things on top and at a certain point we decided that we want a platform here, with a base layer of data and additional experiences for things we haven't even thought of yet. So we worked to bring Habitat into that world, but what about serverless or IoT in the future? We need a platform to support that.”

New features include new visualisation tools., like a streaming event feed, trend graphs and a rich query language, to help users analyse infrastructure and compliance automation data from a single dashboard.

The company also announced some enhancements to Habitat and InSpec.

With Habitat Builder on-premises customers can now use the app automation tool behind their firewall. Chef has also updated the Kubernetes Operator for Habitat, allows for the export to Azure Container Service (AKS) and enhanced integration with Splunk for operational analytics.

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