ChefConf CFP Track: Application Automation

ChefConf is the largest Chef community gathering and educational event for teams on the journey to becoming fast, efficient, and innovative software-driven organizations. In other words, you and your team! Really!

ChefConf 2019 will take place May 20-23 in Seattle, Washington, and we want you to present! The ChefConf call for presenters (CFP) is now open.

One of the tracks you might consider proposing a session for is the Application Automation track.

Application Automation

The cries for digital and cultural transformation can be heard from every corner of the business world. Everyday technologists are becoming more concerned with delivering customer and business value. How are your teams empowered to deliver this value to production? Teams are adopting the tooling and practices necessary to embrace cloud-native technologies, migrate to container ecosystems, employ complex orchestrators, embrace cloud infrastructure, and investigate serverless solutions. In the meantime, some legacy applications are being lifted out of the data center and shifted to the cloud.

Application automation is the term we use to describe the processes used to build, deploy, and manage these applications.

Habitat is a simple, flexible way to build, deploy, and manage modern distributed applications and a platform to modernize and move your more “vintage” services.

Share your story of using Habitat and related technologies to manage the lifecycle of your team’s applications. Below are some ideas and questions to consider.

Understanding distributed systems

Topologies, service discovery, consistency, availability, partitioning, and more! Working with distributed systems means learning about new concepts and terms. The Habitat ecosystem addresses many of these concerns making it easier to implement and leverage them within applications.

  • What does everyone getting started with distributed systems need to know?
  • How does Habitat address and enable each of these concepts?
  • Can you demonstrate how your application uses one or more of these?

Containers, containers, containers!

Containers provide many benefits to modern application teams. Being able to run the same artifact in many different environments simplifies delivery pipelines, increases confidence, and allows teams to deliver value faster. But containers alone may not be enough. Scaling out containers and running production workloads often requires additional technologies like a container scheduler or platform as a service. Habitat provides the capability to export artifacts into a number of different formats including Docker images, Cloud Foundry images, and more. Using the Habitat builder service, you can automatically publish these containers to Docker Hub or Amazon’s Container Registry. Tell us how you’re using Habitat in a larger ecosystem:

  • How has Habitat’s application-first approach changed your container build process? The size and shape of your container?
  • How are you understanding the provenance and lineage of your containers? In other words, “what’s in the container?”
  • Which export formats are you utilizing for Habitat? Why and how?
  • What container orchestrators, schedulers, or platforms are you utilizing? Why and how?
  • Have you considered building a custom export format? What formats would you add? How would you approach building that?

A better habitat for …

Many applications frameworks have mature notions of packaging applications. Java applications, for example, are often packaged as .jar or .war files that are ready to be run inside of a java runtime. In other frameworks, such as Ruby on Rails, the idea of building an artifact is foreign to most of the community. Habitat allows you to create packages and simplify the deployment and management of any application framework. Not everything we build or run is an application framework, either. What about persistent data stores or other services?

  • Share your story of packing specific application frameworks with Habitat (Java, Rails, Node, PHP, Python, etc).
  • Share your story of modernizing and moving older applications. Have you replaced an obsolete operating platform with Habitat-packaged apps on a modern platform?
  • Share your story of packaging and running distributed databases with Habitat (PostgreSQL, MySQL, MongoDB, etc).
  • How has a common packaging format impacted your delivery platforms across various application frameworks?

Putting the “Dev” in DevOps

The word “DevOps” has always started with “Dev” yet many participants in the community have a deep background in operations.  Habitat aims to bring better automation capabilities to developers and make the DevOps tent larger so that everyone has a place. This also means more and closer collaboration between teams!

  • How is Habitat impacting your development process?
  • How has Habitat improved collaboration between dev and ops? Are other teams also involved, like Release Engineering?
  • As a developer, what are the things you love, or hate, about Habitat?

Modernize and Move

One of the powerful features of Habitat is the flexibility it gives your team for pulling older applications away from obsolete architectures and deploying them on modern hardware. Combined with Chef’s management of your infrastructure resources, modernizing and moving your legacy applications to the cloud becomes far less fraught. Are more and more organizations take advantage of the benefits of migrating to the cloud, plenty of lessons have been learned. Has your team been through a cloud migration or an effort to bring older apps into the present? Did you use Habitat to do it? Let us know!

  • How has your team managed the various responsibilities of a cloud migration? Did the project lead you to work more closely with other teams, like release engineers or security?
  • Did you see a cost savings or complexity reduction or other benefits from reducing your installed base of older platforms?
  • What challenges did you face when working with older applications and platforms, and were they improved by modernizing?
  • Are you working in a hybrid cloud environment? Are you mixing on-premises and public cloud resources? Are you using multiple cloud services? How are you managing those platforms?

Getting Started

Application automation with Habitat is a relatively new practice and the tools available are quickly evolving. How are you getting started with Habitat? Have you started with core packages or are you building your own? You do not need to be an expert to help others get started. Your experiences getting started with Habitat are worth sharing, even if as cautionary tales. ChefConf is a great place to help fellow community members get started on the right foot.

  • What do you wish you knew when you first got started?
  • How are you helping people across your organization get started with application automation?
  • Which use cases are well-suited for getting started with application automation?

Other Tracks

The ChefConf CFP is open for the following tracks:

  • Infrastructure Automation
  • Compliance Automation
  • Application Automation
  • People, Process, and Teams
  • Cloud, Microservices, and Modern Architectures
  • Delivering Delight
  • Chaos Engineering
  • Don’t Label Me!

Share Your Story

Your story and experiences are worth sharing with the community. Help others learn and further your own knowledge through sharing. The ChefConf CFP is open now. Use some of the questions posed here to help form a talk proposal for the application automation track.

Submit your talk proposal now! The deadline is Friday, January 11, 2019 at 11:59 PM Pacific time.

Mandi Walls

Mandi is Technical Community Manager for Chef. She can be found online @LNXCHK.