As part of its announcement of IBM SmartCloud Orchestrator, Big Blue also announced support for Chef and Chef recipes, which prompted at least one analyst and open-source software watcher to gush over the news.
“This is a big deal,” said James Governor, analyst and co-founder of RedMonk, noting that Opscode, the maker of Chef, stands to benefit from IBM’s move. Governor spoke with eWEEK at the IBM Pulse 2013 conference here where IBM announced its new SmartCloud Orchestrator.
“Perhaps OpenStack was the big news, but a key part of the announcement was IBM’s support of Chef and Chef recipes with its Orchestrator,” Governor said. “They are doing this with the assistance of Opscode, and I see it as a selection of Chef over Puppet. This is big. I would not be surprised to see IBM invest in if not acquire Opscode.”
Later, Governor went a bit further, tweeting, “IBM is totally going to buy @opscode = provides chef support for the new SmartCloud Orchestrator, yet another openstack session.”
In a meeting with eWEEK, Kristof Kloeckner, general manager of Rational Software at IBM, said IBM has a tendency to support open source projects that have strong community support.
“We have no set plans here, nor are we trying to pick a clear winner,” Kloeckner said. “We can clearly support Puppet as well, but we prefer Chef. At the same time we prefer Git over Subversion; we prefer Hudson over Jenkins. … What we look for is that there is a clear and substantial amount of user support behind a project, but we don’t try to pick winners or influence projects. We look at what works best for us.”
Chef is a configuration management tool written in Ruby and Erlang. It uses a pure-Ruby, domain-specific language (DSL) for writing system configuration “recipes” or “cookbooks.” Chef was written by Opscode and is released as open source under the Apache License 2.0. Chef is a DevOps tool used for configuring cloud services or to streamline the task of configuring a company’s internal servers. Chef automatically sets up and tweaks the operating systems and programs that run in massive data centers.
“IBM’s OpenStack news wasn’t a big surprise — the company has been a booster for some time now, and its 400 customer advisory panel is impressive,” said Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT. “More importantly, I think placing OpenStack in the context of IBM’s history of supporting other open-source initiatives like Linux and Apache was a great strategy.
The initial 1998 initiatives, followed a couple of years later by the $1 billion Linux investment, were hugely influential. Prior to that, Linux was an intriguing science project of interest to relatively few folks outside the IT industry. IBM’s support essentially legitimized open source for the commercial market and gave it a huge boost.”
The company obviously hopes to do the same with OpenStack, and could well achieve that, King added.
Yet, “The decision to cross-leverage Chef and its own PureSystems ‘patterns of expertise” deployment methodologies was fascinating technologically but should also increase OpenStack’s momentum,” King said. “In the end, businesses want two things from IT solutions—predictability and replicability. Builders of closed solutions, whether they’re enterprise-centric vendors like Oracle or more ambitious players like Amazon, typically claim they’re best suited for the driver’s seat. IBM’s strategy around OpenStack is decidedly more customer-focused and friendly. We’ll have to see whether the effects of the company’s efforts around cloud are as profound as its early open-source initiatives, but right now the odds are looking good.”
IBM Cooks Up OpenStack Cloud Platform With Chef
Boris Renski, co-founder and chief marketing officer at Mirantis, which is an OpenStack service provider, said, “The interesting question to ask here is if IBM will try to maintain its own OpenStack distro as a result of this announcement or if it will wrap SmartCloud Orchestrator around Red Hat and SUSE OpenStack distributions, like it does with the rest of their products. In the latter case, it will translate to a vote of confidence for Red Hat Enterprise OpenStack. Red Hat is already the top contributor to OpenStack and has deep ties with IBM. Canonical’s OpenStack distribution, despite its early involvement in the community, may now be getting completely toasted by Red Hat.”
Moreover, regarding the Chef news, “I am a bit surprised IBM, being an enterprise-focused player, is building on Chef and not Puppet,” Renski said. “I suspect it is just a [blip] and may indicate that they haven’t given much thought to this part. When it comes to configuration management in the enterprise, Puppet is much more prominent from what we saw. Chef is this cool configuration-management tool for cloud hackers, whereas Puppet is a much-wider-adopted configuration management for enterprise sys admins. Hence, I am not clear about the choice.”
In June 2012, Matt Ray, a senior technical evangelist at Opscode blogged about Chef for OpenStack, saying, “Opscode is pleased to announce the launch of our Chef for OpenStack project, a reference deployment for building and managing OpenStack clouds. There are already quite a few folks deploying OpenStack with Chef, and we want to help make it more accessible to a larger ecosystem of users through a set of cookbooks and documentation. Even more importantly, we’re focusing on building the community around the use of Chef with OpenStack.” Ray gave a talk and demonstrated continuous delivery and OpenStack at Pulse 2013.
Chef for OpenStack provides a centralized, defined collection of code and best practices for using Chef to create and automate entire OpenStack infrastructures, as well as to launch entire application stacks on top of OpenStack clouds, Opscode said.
Opscode, on Feb. 4, announced Chef 11. Opscode Chef 11, which was rewritten from the ground up and leverages best-of-breed infrastructure technologies including the Erlang programming language and PostgreSQL database, delivers an automation platform that can easily scale up to 10,000 nodes from a single Chef server, Opscode officials said. In conjunction with the release of Chef 11, Opscode now offers two tiers of commercial support, covering both live system support and cookbook code troubleshooting. Opscode also announced the next generation of Private Chef for the enterprise, delivering key features including a new management console, activity reporting, push client runs, role-based access control and multi-tenancy.
“In just four years, Chef has become the open-source standard for infrastructure automation, with tens of thousands of users and thousands of contributors using Chef around the globe,” said Adam Jacob, creator of Chef and Opscode Chief Customer Officer, in a statement. “This new generation of Chef provides greater scale, functionality, performance and support for both open-source users and enterprise organizations. In other words, this stuff rocks, so bring us your hardest infrastructure challenges and let’s get to work.”
Chef 11 uses the Erlang programming language for its API server, providing open-source users with a highly scalable, available and resilient framework that reduces memory usage by 10 times over the previous, Ruby-based versions of Chef. By combining the Erlang API Server with the new PostgreSQL Chef database, Opscode is delivering four times greater scale for open-source users, with the new Chef server capable of supporting up to 10,000 clients on a single server, while only using a fraction of the CPU previous Chef generations required, the company said.
In addition to the Erlang API server and PostgreSQL database, the next generation of Chef also includes the Pedant Testing Suite, easy installation and enhanced Windows support.
“Opscode operates the largest installation of Chef on the planet,” said Christopher Brown, CTO of Opscode, in a statement. “We experienced our own scale challenges and solved for scale by rewriting Chef from the ground up in Erlang. We’ve taken the knowledge gained from working with Chef ourselves, as well as feedback from thousands of Chef users worldwide, and put it all into Chef 11. It’s the best open-source, infrastructure automation platform available, bar none.”