Everything You Might Have Missed at ChefConf ’21: Online

ChefConf ’21: Online has come and gone, leaving a deluge of interesting, informative sessions in its wake. From an amazing concert put on by Deep Sea Diver and Lakou Mizik, to breakouts and keynotes featuring some of the best minds in the industry, ChefConf ’21 included something for everyone.

If you missed out on ChefConf last week, don’t worry – we’re highlighting all the major news and moments from the event in this blog. And if you want to dig into more ChefConf content, all sessions are available on-demand here.

Product Announcements

On day 1 of ChefConf, we announced several new enhancements to the Chef portfolio – all designed to accelerate organizations’ DevOps journeys.

Compliance and Multi-Cloud

Chef Compliance Automation for Cloud Resources is now available, with over 300 cloud resource packs spanning AWS, Azure and GCP. This update will expand the Chef Premium Content portfolio, allowing organizations to audit and remediate their infrastructure and applications in accordance with CIS benchmarks and DISA STIGs. 

Chef Enterprise Automation Stack (EAS) Enhancements for Operator Productivity

EAS, Chef’s full-stack offering, includes Chef Infra, InSpec, Habitat, Automate, and Premium Content. This release will build on Chef’s vision for an integrated automation platform and will include significant enhancements to Chef Infra Compliance phase, which allows users to write and execute InSpec policies alongside infrastructure code as part of any Chef Infra Client run.

With this update, more powerful infrastructure management dashboards allow multiple Chef Infra Servers and organizations to be added in order to view and update nodes, environments, roles, policyfiles, and more. Chef has also built stronger test-driven development features into Chef Workstation and Test Kitchen, as well as launched a beta secrets management integration for industry-standard secrets management tools.

Deployment Flexibility

Progress also launched Chef Managed Services, a new offering to reduce the administrative effort and operational cost while increasing business value for customers who would like Chef to manage their Chef deployment. Chef software is also available via the AWS and Azure Marketplaces, giving users a more convenient way to buy for cloud customers. Finally, there is also a new Chef SaaS offering, which we’re making available as a beta for a limited number of customers.

Keynote Sessions

Day 1

Day 1 of our 10th annual ChefConf kicked off with the “Accelerate Your Journey” keynote session. benny Vasquez, DevRel and community manager at Progress Chef spoke to Yogesh Gupta, CEO of Progress about Progress’s acquisition of Chef.

“We have a phenomenal business around helping the ecosystem of developers and people who build and deploy and manage mission critical business applications,” Gupta said. “That’s Progress has done for 40 years. Over that period, dramatic shifts have taken place. When you think about deploying and managing DevOps and DevSecOps, that has become central to that. So, we said we need to be in that.”

“We looked around, and we found that Chef was the best company out there, with amazing products, even more amazing customers and a phenomenal ecosystem of both contributors and the community, as well as employees,” he added. “I want to emphasize that with any business – especially a software business – people are the only thing that matter. So, it’s the employees in the company, it’s the customer ecosystem, and it is the community of open-source contributors.”

Gupta and benny were later joined by Brittany Woods, manager of server automation at H&R Block, and Lance Albertson, director of the Oregon State University Open Source Lab. Woods and Albertson shared some insights to help community members overcome current technical and business challenges.

Sundar Subramanian, senior vice president and general manager of Progress; Sudhir Reddy, vice president of engineering at Progress; and Jay Thoden van Velzen, head of security operations at SAP also stopped by. The group discussed new Chef product innovations and outlined what customers can expect to see from Chef in the future.

Day 2

Day 2 began with a Product Keynote and Live Q&A with Chef Leadership, where Reddy made another appearance to discuss new features and plans for Chef products in greater depth.

“The three big things we’re working on are security and compliance, unified experience, and ease of adoption for our customers,” Reddy noted. “Thinking back to ChefConf last year, what we announced then and what we’ve been doing since then, is this whole notion of workload-aligned offerings, where you have a workload to get done and we provide all the things – software, content, whatever you need to make that successful.”

“That’s the theme that we’ve been working on. And you’ll see that these actually are up to that,” he continued.

Later, several members of the product management team – Prashanth Nanjundappa, Trevor Hess, Nischal Reddy, and Sharan Rayakar – joined the session to talk about how Chef is focusing on delivering greater value to our customers. They detailed new updates to Chef products, as well as showcased some of the best new features that have launched.

Breakout Sessions

In several sessions at ChefConf ’21, companies discussed how they’re using Chef to solve problems, manage workloads, and increase overall efficiency:

  • A Windows View into DevSecOps Success at Bluestem Brands: Members of the Bluestem Brands team talked about their decision to migrate from Microsoft SCCM, upgrade from Chef 15 to Chef 17 and implement a policy as code approach. In doing this, the team streamlined Windows patching, saved hundreds of hours related to compliance checks, completed 2 Chef Infra Client upgrades and implemented a fully automated Chef Infra Cookbook pipeline – all in less than a year.
  • How SAP Scales Compliance for 10K+ Cloud Accounts and Growing with Chef InSpec: Tim Jones and Joe McCrea of SAP discussed how SAP overcame its cloud scale issue by designing a compliance scanning system for its 10,000+ cloud accounts using Chef InSpec. SAP was able to “Docker-ize” Chef InSpec and use it on an in-house Kubernetes cluster based on Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE).
  • “How Many Targets?!” – Story of How SAP Selected Chef InSpec for Cloud Security Posture Management: Over the last four years, SAP has undergone rapid growth in the public cloud, with the company doubling their cloud resources every year across AWS, Azure, GCP and AliBaba Cloud. Jay Thoden van Velzen of SAP went through SAP’s selection of Chef InSpec and how it fit their public cloud security requirements.
  • How We Deployed Chef and Migrated from Red Hat Satellite – The Tips, the Tricks, and the Gotchas: After nearly 20 years of using Red Hat Satellite to manage its Linux systems, Discount Tire used Chef as its primary development tool to deploy over 700 systems in AWS. A team from Discount Tire detailed their decision to work with Chef to convert all Red Hat Satellite systems to management and patching.
  • Panel: Fleet Automation for Windows, Linux, and Mac Systems with Chef: Experts from Facebook and Netflix outlined how they used Chef to manage their fleet of desktops and laptops remotely. Because Chef enables configuration management by defining infrastructure as code, it makes the process of managing configurations and system state automated and testable.
  • Tesco Technology: A Tale of Two Solutions: Craig Roberts, software development engineer at Tesco, and Nathan Luxford, head of cloud platforms at Tesco, went over how they used Chef in two concurrent projects. Tesco was able to complete an in-store server migration project with the help of Chef, as well as design a new patch management solution that resulted in a 90% reduction in the time engineering spends packaging and delivering patches.
  • UBS Case: Security-Driven System Hardening at Scale: This session covered security-driven system hardening at scale, highlighting the challenges UBS faced when scaling the security practices using Azure and how new security requirements drove deployment and not just compliance. Joerg Weber, executive director at UBS described how the organization used Chef on-premises versus Chef on Azure, including its deployment methodology, challenges faced, and lessons learned.

This year’s ChefConf was one to remember, with great speakers, top-tier organizations, and amazing entertainment abound. Still hungry for more ChefConf content? Watch all the sessions on-demand here


Piyushree Nagrale

Piyushree is a Demand Generation Manager at Progress where she works on recipes to cook new campaigns. When not on laptop scratching her head optimizing campaigns and budgets, Piyushree likes traveling, sketching and trying out new forms of art.