Chef DevOps – Automate Infrastructure – A Comprehensive Guide

Infrastructure management has taken a heavy peak in the past few years and has developed its popularity among organizations and businesses. Today, there is not much need for manual deployment or configuration. Therefore, using SSH in a specified ‘for’ loop is perfectly reasonable for executing server changes. Hence, automation is the change of a new era where Chef DevOps has come as a configuration management tool that is currently being used by many enterprises.

When you seek infrastructure automation, you can expect to get a central place for managing all networks, systems, and devices. This management execution is intended to be carried out irrespective of whether it is within the cloud or on the premises. Therefore, you can ensure reliability and also deploy the applications or infrastructure faster as expected.

Follow this article; you will know the steps associated with automating the infrastructure by using Chef DevOps. Read it in detail to gain insights. 

Using Chef DevOps for Automating Infrastructure Management

Before you can go ahead and check on the steps that are essential for automating the infrastructure with Chef DevOps, it is important for you to understand the basic necessity for the same. If you wish to get your infrastructure treated as a code, you will need an automation and configuration platform like Chef DevOps that can help you achieve it.

It consists of pre-written codes that are specified for defining the infrastructure, system dependencies, and security policies. Chef DevOps offers you a central platform for managing all of these automated infrastructure aspects under one platform.

Along with the management proficiency, Chef is also destined to detect configuration drift automatically to keep the system under right compliance. Therefore, you need to keep up the security changes and add Virtual Machines, containers, and cloud instances within a few minutes.

Chef DevOps allows you to gain visibility, repeatability, and consistency upon the systems. With it, you can intend to stop focusing on the common infrastructure operation and management aspects and put your head into bringing in projects for taking the company forward with more sales and revenue. For more information on Chef’s Automation tools, you can check the official website of Chef.

The Chef components also play a major role in configuring the automation of the infrastructure. All of the components are impossible to cover, for which, let’s highlight only some of the important components. They are as follows:

  1. Chef-repo- the chef-repo is known to be the repository structure within which the cookbooks are initiated, tested & maintained. This component is configured within the workstation, and there is a need for synchronizing it with diverse version control systems. Following that, it should be managed as a source code. 
  2. Cookbooks- Cookbooks are fundamental units of policy distribution and configuration. The role of a cookbook is to define a scenario where everything is present for proceeding with the automation framework. It consists of recipes for specifying the usable resources and the order in which they should be implemented. Along with that, it also consists of file distributions, templates, attribute values, and Chef extensions for diverse applications. 
  3. Recipe- It is termed to be an element supporting fundamental configuration for a business or organization. It is known to be as a Chef file that groups all the related resources. For instance, it consists of all the resources essential for the configuration of a database server, load balancer, and web server. They are always executed in the specified order on the run-list.

The Architecture of Chef DevOps

The entire architecture of Chef DevOps can be divided into these three crucial components. These three components are destined to explain the complete functionality and communication between the devices within the Chef infrastructure. Here is a brief explanation of these three crucial elements of Chef architecture:

  1. Workstations 

Master Devices are specified as the location where the changes are initiated, updates are created, or records are maintained. This information that is attained by the dedicated workstations is passed onto the Chef Server. The recipes are then created on these selected workstations for implementing policies upon the worker nodes. The workstations might further use a command-line tool, ‘Knife,’ that intends to make it possible to allow streamlined communication between master devices and the Chef server.

  1. Chef Server

Chef Server is considered as the center of nodes and workstations. All the recipes, metadata, and cookbooks are preferably stored here. The workbook sends the cookbook to the Chef server with the use of a Knife. By using this command-line tool, the nodes then communicate with the Chef server. In case there are any kind of changes made to infrastructure code, all of those changes must be passed through the server to apply them onto the nodes. Chef Server is the key to enable fluid communication amongst all the devices embedded within the workplace infrastructure.

  1. Worker Nodes

The pull-based Chef mechanism is destined to enable communication of worker nodes with the Chef server. It is done with the use of the Chef client! Furthermore, it will also obtain updates, policies and adapt relevant changes within the server. Worker Nodes are defined as the devices that are to be managed by the Chef server. Moreover, with every node, you will find a Chef client installed by default. The actions implemented upon worker nodes or the changes witnessed by them are known to be as ‘state changes.’ Therefore, any of the ‘state change’ needs to follow some steps that are defined within the cookbook, created upon the master device or workstation.

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Steps for Automating Infrastructure with Chef DevOps

Chef DevOps offers powerful policy-based automation software with configuration management solutions for the DevOps teams. Its Infrastructure configuration and management software is executed with specified steps to ensure that the infrastructure is compliant and consistent over life. It does not matter whether your infrastructure is going through a complex scenario; the perfect automation inclusions will help you streamline the operations. The steps include:

  1. Create Configuration Policies

Chef Infra Cookbook is known to be a fundamental unit responsible for implementing configuration and policy automation & distribution. These cookbooks are used for describing the system resources such as templates, software packages, and files. The resources are defined in the recipes that are elaborated in human-readable code. This code will describe the state, and the Chef Infra client will be triggered for configuring the system.

  1. Test the Configuration Policies

Workstation consists of several testing tools for carrying out the test aspects upon configuration policies. Chef InSpec is one such testing tool that is used for shortening the deployment cycles and informing developed decisions while building out and refining the cookbooks. Some of the other tools used for testing the created policies are Test Kitchen and Chef Cook style.

  1. Data Aggregation & Validation

In the final step, it is important to view and validate the actual state of all the systems within the server. With it, the Chef Automate component can proceed with its implementation job for automating the infrastructure.

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Features of Chef DevOps upon Automating Infrastructure

To help you understand the true potential of Chef in DevOps, here are some of the features elaborated to highlight its efficacy. The features include:

  1. Defining the Code

With ideal efforts, the configurations and policies need to be defined as codes. Remember to infuse these codes as enforceable and testable so that they can be delivered at a specified scale within the automated pipelines. The Chef DevOps experts will carry out the efforts of putting up infrastructure as code to automate the important operations on both on-premise and cloud space.

  1. Elimination of Drifts

This feature ensures that the configurations should change only if a system is destined to deviate from the desired and defined state. Hence, it will help you automatically correct the configuration drift or eliminate it completely (if required).

  1. Managing Different Systems as One

Following that, now you can manage Windows & Linux systems that are running on-premises, ARM systems that are running on the cloud, and Mac Laptops running at the edge in a similar manner.

  1. Flexibility 

It consists of simple declarative definitions that will help you carry out the common tasks within the organizational infrastructure. Moreover, you can also extend it to support the unique requirements of the environment.

Final Words

These are a few of the things that you need to keep in mind whenever you integrate Chef with DevOps to automate infrastructure. Moreover, you need to understand the steps and implementations that are crucial for smoothly executing the automation aspects of your infrastructure. Following that, this article also highlighted the features, components, and architecture breakdown of Chef DevOps for automating infrastructure.

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So, if you wish to automate your operational workloads on both on-premise and cloud space, then Chef for DevOps can be the perfect integration for you. Take a moment and understand the functionalities and efficacies of it before you can go ahead with your integration attributes.

About Pavan Gumaste

Pavan Rao is a programmer / Developer by Profession and Cloud Computing Professional by choice with in-depth knowledge in AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform. He helps the organisation figure out what to build, ensure successful delivery, and incorporate user learning to improve the strategy and product further.

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