ChefConf ‘23 Keynote Recap: From Any Edge to Any Cloud

This year’s Progress ChefConf was special.  

After three long years of meeting online, ChefConf returned to its original format as an in-person event in Seattle on September 26-27, 2023. It was a special opportunity for the community to renew and reignite conversations and collaborations with all stakeholders.  

If you missed attending or would like a recap of how it went, here is a rundown of what transpired in our opening keynote. 

The Opening Keynote 

ChefConf ‘23 was kicked off with a keynote presentation led by Prashanth Nanjundappa, VP of Product Management. Prashanth provided a sneak peek into what’s to come in the next two days. He revealed that all the events were designed around three primary topics: 

  1. Configure, Deploy and Manage (Infrastructure Management) 
  2. Compliance and Security
  3. Strategy and Leadership in the DevOps space 
While the events were strategically bound to the topics, the session formats took new and innovative shapes with hands-on keyboard workshops and Open Spaces with democratized agendas.  

Sundar Subramaniam, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Infrastructure Management, joined Prashanth on stage. 

Edge, Cloud, On-Prem, Private, Public or Hybrid: Chef Suits Them All 

“I hear a lot about scale,” said Sundar on his interactions with the community. “I hear a lot about flexibility, how Chef is almost like a platform, not just a product, and not just the number of nodes it can support, but the heterogeneous nature of the usage,” he explained. 

Today’s Chef is used not just in on-premises ecosystems but also in heterogeneous cloud environments. It can take care of disparate devices, including edge devices ranging from credit card readers to train signaling equipment. Chef is amorphous in that it fits into any environment—dev to production, customer sandboxes and partner environments.  

While acknowledging Chef's flexibility, Sundar also pointed out that solutions for disparate industries and use cases are getting increasingly complex with the emergence of diverse groups of stakeholders.  

Nowadays, conversations are not just limited to dev and ops personnel but are often initiated by CIOs and CISOs. With security being the focus, they are looking at ways to convert their security rules into policies that can be automated and reported with an audit log. Continuous compliance is a conversation that we constantly hear in the community. 

The foundation of Chef is ‘Policy as Code.’ Policy as Code enables practitioners to translate the CISO's requirements into deployable, repeatable, auditable, readable and understandable code.  

Learn Chef Has Been Revitalized 

Next, Director of Professional Services Dan Choquette discussed the developments around ‘Learn Chef’ (The Chef Educational Program) in 2023.  

Dan emphasized the importance of delivering a hands-on experience during the learning phase. “We have taken all our live training classes, digitized them and added on-demand lab ability. We call it ‘Learn Chef Premium,’” Dan revealed. “We have also renewed our certification program by validating hands-on abilities, which is a part of our ‘Learn Chef Certify’ program.” 

Our educational strategy consolidates all our certifications and learning paths into the Progress education community. Once you create a Progress ID, all you need to do is log in and you have access to the entire catalog of Chef classes and certifications.  

DevSecOps: Automate at Scale with High Confidence 

With all the talk around security and DevSecOps, it was interesting to hear the insights of Richard Barretto, our CISO and VP, on how we adhere to security and compliance at Progress. “We need to automate at scale, we need to do it with high confidence and the only way I can see that is using an automation solution like Chef,” said Richard.  

Talking about Zero Trust, Richard recognized that Zero Trust is a long journey for organizations that typically take years to reach fruition. DevSecOps is important for Zero Trust because it provides scale, confidence and visibility that nodes are configured to certain standards, multiple systems are trackable and configuration drifts are caught on time. 

With threat actors becoming more sophisticated with every passing day, it is important to strengthen your security strategy. At Progress, we adhere to the OWASP Software Assurance Maturity Model (SAMM) security model, ensuring we follow all security best practices. Additionally, Progress adopted the Supply-chain Levels for Software Artifacts or SLSA ("salsa") framework last year, and one of the steps we are taking in that direction is using ephemeral pipelines. 

From the Horse’s Mouth: What Our Customers Say About Us! 

Our community and our customers are our foundation. It was refreshing and exciting to hear what our customers had to say about Chef. 

Chef Champions Tim Odom and Larry Herz from iManage 

Tim Odom, Lead SRE, and Larry Herz, Senior SRE from iManage, a knowledge work platform and our first customers of Chef SaaS, narrated their journey with the Chef platform.  

“The main reason for using Chef SaaS from the get-go is we get to offload our SLAs onto Chef 😊, but a part of it is trust in the company and our trust in the code and everything there. We knew we could rely on Chef to manage this infrastructure for us,” said Tim. 

While explaining how iManage uses Chef, Larry said, “We were deploying a .NET Windows stack that, when we started our journey, used to take multiple people multiple weeks to configure. We now have this product where we can go from zero infrastructure to a fully deployed stack in about 5 hours”. 

Chef Champion Joe Nuspl from Workday 

Next on stage was Joe Nuspl, Principal Engineer from Workday. Joe has been using Chef since 2011. He shared an interesting anecdote about saving the day from a bash vulnerability with Chef. While the rest of the teams were still deciding on a strategy in an ongoing meeting, Joe wrote, tested, checked in and deployed a remediation recipe in a few hours! 

Alternatively, you can tune into his insightful session, Lessons from 12 Years of Progress Chef Development

Chef Champion Stephanie Laingen from TapHere 

Stephanie Laingen, Director of Innovation from TapHere (a consultancy that designs software for the public sector), divulged that they have been using Chef for the past eight years. One of their larger customers is the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), where Chef is used to configure and secure a large number of systems at scale.  

“Chef makes it easier to manage large-scale systems,” said Stephanie. Talking about the community, she said, “To me, ‘community’ is making connections with the people who are trying to solve the problem that I am trying to solve and people who also care about what I care about.”  

Later, Stephanie conducted an entire session on the right way to run policy files on systems. She gave her insights on the power of simple semantic versioning rules in an aptly named session, ‘Don’t Deploy That’! 

Progress INFRA Business Unit: An Overview 

Sundar returned to the stage to give the audience an overview of what the Progress INFRA Business Unit offers. While Chef forms the foundation for most of the configuration and deployment requirements, other Progress INFRA products serve a variety of use cases for IT infrastructure management.  

Sundar introduced the audience to Progress® Flowmon®, a cloud-based solution that assists network and security operations teams with performance monitoring, analytics, anomaly detection, and response. He next introduced Progress® WhatsUp® Gold, an IT monitoring solution that helps provide insights into an organization’s infrastructure. Finally, Sundar spoke about Progress® Kemp® LoadMaster, the load-balancing and security software that has been deployed at scale globally and used by customers like Amazon. 

Progress INFRA Management

In addition, Sundar talked about offerings from Progress’ business units, such as Progress® OpenEdge®, Progress ® MarkLogic®, Progress ® Telerik ® and Progress® SiteInfinity®.  

Straight from the CEO! 

The keynote session ended with a video from our CEO, Yogesh Gupta. “We at Progress have an unrelenting focus on making you, our users, our customers and our Chef community successful because we know that our success depends on your success,” he said. “We have continued to invest in our Chef portfolio; we have broadened the portfolio to infrastructure management solutions to meet your growing needs.” Yogesh urged everyone to utilize all the ChefConf events and have fun at Chef after dark! 

And that, everyone, is a wrap-up of the keynote address at ChefConf 23! 

Other ChefConf Resources:  

Join Dan-Joe Lopez, SAP DevOps CoE Global Team Lead, with Troubleshooting Large Chef Deployments and Chef Extensibility 

Posted in:

Smitha Ravindran

Smitha is a Content Manager at Progress. She is a software enthusiast who loves to combine her interest in tech with her love for words. After two decades of practicing and teaching computer science, she writes about all things tech. In her spare time, she reads!