Under new product leader, Chef rolls out strategy for modern app development teams

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Chef headquarters in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Tom Krazit)

Simply automating your computing infrastructure won’t cut it anymore; forward-thinking software-development organizations need to automate their processes across the board in order to keep up. Following the appointment of a new product development lead, Chef is ready to announce that it has revamped its flagship Automate product with those goals in mind.

ChefConf kicks off Wednesday in Chicago, and senior vice president of product and engineering Corey Scobie is ready to introduce Automate 2.0. Chef rebuilt Automate around the goal of adding compliance automation features to the infrastructure automation it already provided, a shift in its strategy brought on by the speed at which this market has moved over the last few years.

Corey Scobie, senior vice president of products and engineering, Chef. (Chef Photo)

Chef’s original products, dating back nearly a decade, were designed for companies that still ran a lot of their applications on self-managed servers while flirting with cloud providers, and needed something to manage that complexity. As companies have shifted more and more workloads into the data centers of cloud vendors, the whole notion of “infrastructure as code” has become table stakes, not something that sets software development teams apart.

And newer application deployment strategies like containers and even serverless computing have the attention of developers looking to set themselves up for the future. The problem for many enterprise customers is that blending those modern cloud-native development techniques and legacy on-premises applications is more complicated than it looks in the cloud vendor brochures.

“If you’re a company with any period of history, and has sort of the typical enterprise profile, you want to achieve that same kind of agility and philosophy, but do it in a heterogeneous way,” Scobie said. The new version of Automate allows companies to better track their application performance in line with compliance requirements across different computing environments, while continuing to streamline the app deployment process.

Chef also decided to practice what it preaches with Automate 2.0, overhauling the application from its original monolithic design to a microservices-based one, a move that was probably overdue. This should help customers scale their use of Automate more easily, Scobie said.

The last 12 months have not been pretty for Chef, with layoffs and executive departures at several levels of the company. Since the last ChefConf a year ago, the company brought its co-founder Adam Jacob back to run product and engineering, as CEO Barry Crist told employees “right now Chef’s engineering execution is paramount to our success.” Scobie has been on board since March, overseeing product and engineering.

Chef also introduced a new way to use its products called Chef Workstation, which will be a browser-based way to use Chef across desktops or laptops. And it is updating the Habitat open-source project under its wing with general availability for the on-premises version of Habitat Builder.



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