Chef and Openstack Part 2B – Install a Chef (Version 12) Server, Workstation and Client

Things change. Technology changes fast. Here is an updated installation guide for Chef version 12. There are two notable differences in this post compared to a previous guide for Chef version 11, Install a Chef (Version 11) Server, Workstation and Client. First, this installation is all done via command line whereas we used the user interface in the previous post. Second, version 12 defaults to using authentication keys to communicate between a Chef Workstation and a Chef Server. There are also a number of other changes, such as the new Chef Development Kit. Note that this guide uses Enterprise Linux 6.5 instead of Ubuntu 12.04. This guide will also provide instructions on how to setup Chef when the environment is behind a http proxy. (more…)

Does simplicity give Ansible an edge over similar tools?

What took me three blog posts for Chef, I can describe in one for Ansible. Like Chef and Puppet, Ansible is a configuration management tool that helps us with automating repetitive tasks like deploying packages or applications to groups of servers. Ansible was released in 2012 and is relatively new compared to Puppet, released in 2006, and Chef, released in 2009.

A few years makes a big difference in technology nowadays. For a frame of reference, consider how many new tools have come out recently. In this week’s New York Cloud Expo, a speaker from CoreOS described 18 new and potentially very useful tools that have become available in the past two years. With so many cloud tools available, which ones will gain traction? This post discusses Ansible, which may gain in popularity because of its simplicity. (more…)

Chef and OpenStack Part 2A – Install a Chef (Version 11) Server, Workstation and Client

Whereas the last post introduced Chef and its key concepts, this post talks about how to install it. Afterall, perhaps the best way to learn a technology is to use it. So let’s take a look at how to install a Chef Server, Workstation and Clients. This guide also includes instructions on how to install the “knife-openstack” plugin. Note, this guide is for Chef version 11. See the post “Install a (Version 12) Chef Server, Workstation and Client” for a guide on installing Chef version 12.


Chef and OpenStack Part 1 – Key Concepts

Similar to OpenStack, Chef is a tool that brings technologies used by web-scale companies to the mainstream. OpenStack enables us to dynamically deploy thousands of virtual machine instances. Chef enables the automated configuration of those instances and is inspired by the automation long used at both Amazon and Google. Chef has become one of the more popular configuration management tools and cloud services like Amazon OpsWorks support Chef. Alternatives to Chef are Puppet, Ansible and Salt.

Chef provides a way to code infrastructure in “recipes”. The code, or recipes, can automate the setup, configuration, deployment and management of virtual servers in a cloud. To better understand the value of Chef, consider the operational tasks a system admin would have to do. These tasks become daunting as the number of VMs increases. (more…)