ChefConf CFP Track: Infrastructure Automation

ChefConf is the largest community gathering and educational event for teams on the journey to becoming fast, efficient, and innovative software-driven organizations. That’s you! ChefConf 2019 will take place May 20-24 in Seattle, Washington and we want you to present! The ChefConf call for presentations (CFP) is now open.

A number of tracks have been announced for the conference and we will be describing those tracks in a bit more detail with posts similar to this one. Let these posts inspire you to develop a presentation to submit to the CFP or as a preview of what you can expect as an attendee of the conference in May.

Infrastructure Automation

Infrastructure automation is the process by which we automate the provisioning, installation, configuration, and ongoing maintenance of computers within our environment. The ideas, processes, and tools used to manage infrastructure as code are great topics for ChefConf 2019.

Assessing Current State

One of the first steps to automating an environment is getting a handle on the current state of that environment. Simply running the chef-client on a machine that reports data to Chef Automate is a great first step in that process. Ohai, the system profiler, gathers thousands of system attributes, the chef-client sends this data off to Chef Automate. This data is organized and exposed so that queries can be executed to help answer questions about the environment. Questions like “what versions of which operating systems are running?”, “how many CPUs do a group of servers have?”, etc. All of this data gives you great insights to share experiences like:

  • Are you feeding the Chef data into a separate configuration management database (CMDB)?  
  • What inconsistencies are you uncovering with this data?
  • What custom ohai plugins have you written or are you using?
  • Did you finally find that one server that was locked in a closet and forgotten??

Modeling Desired State

Managing infrastructure as code allows us to model the desired state of our infrastructure. Chef accomplishes this through things like resources, recipes, cookbooks, roles, and policyfiles. The extensibility of Chef allows for the creation of custom resources to help make the model more clear and easier to reason about. Cookbooks and other policy artifacts can be jointly developed by a team of engineers and can also be shared both within a company and across the entire community. Lots of good talks start with questions like:

  • How are you modeling the desired state of your infrastructure?  
  • What custom resources have you built and how have they helped you?  
  • How do you share cookbooks and other policy artifacts across your organization?

Local Development

The Chef ecosystem is full of tools that make it easy to take a test-driven approach to developing infrastructure code. Development begins on the developer’s workstation or laptop. Developers can validate their code locally using tools including cookstyle, Foodcritic, ChefSpec, Test Kitchen, InSpec, and more. Getting everyone on the team using a similar set-up and development process is important. Share your story of implementing local development:

  • What does a day in the life of an infrastructure engineer look like?
  • What are you doing to help new developers get their environments set-up quickly?
  • How are you leveraging local testing in your development practices?

Cloud Automation and Migrations

Building in and migrating to the cloud is fundamentally different than deploying to a data center. Chef and other tools allow you to automate this process. Being in the cloud changes the economics and approaches to things like disaster recovery, scaling up and down, and geolocation of running services. Are you using cloud services? What can you share about:

  • Which clouds are you using?
  • How has moving to the cloud changed your approach?
  • What tools are you using in conjunction with Chef to help manage your cloud instance?
  • What has surprised you about moving workloads to the cloud?

Getting Started

Everyone was new to Infrastructure Automation at one point. You do not need to be an expert to help others get started. A lot of experiences from the early days of automation are worth sharing, especially as cautionary tales. ChefConf is a great place to help fellow community members get started on the right foot. Do you have something to share about:

  • What do you wish you knew when you first got started?
  • How are you helping people across your organization get started with infrastructure automation?
  • Which use cases are well-suited for getting started with infrastructure 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
  • Doing Change
  • 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 2019 CFP is open now. Use some of the questions posed here to help form a talk proposal for the infrastructure automation track.

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

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Mandi Walls

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