Getting Started with Chef Infrastructure Management in 30 Minutes

Whether you’re new to automation and configuration management or just new to Chef Infrastructure Management Automation, it can be difficult to know just where to begin. Two new how-to videos are now available to walk you through the steps to get you up and running with Chef quickly.

Chef Infrastructure Management consists of several components that are critical to any enterprise automation deployment. It includes Chef Infra Server, Chef Automate, Chef Workstation and the Chef Infra Client.  

There are ways to try Chef without all these pieces in place, but if you’re looking to see how the full Chef Infrastructure Management Automation environment can work for your enterprise, these videos are designed for you.  

Both videos assume you don’t have any previous Chef knowledge or a lot of spare machines lying around, so you don’t need any special skills or beefy gear to try the steps for yourself. If you prefer to take advantage of cloud instances, say in AWS or Azure, you can follow similar steps. Those cloud Marketplace instances allow you to deploy Chef Automate and Chef Infra Server from a preconfigured instance you can use with your local workstation.  

The first videoHow to Install Chef Automate and Chef Infra Server  – explains how to deploy Automate and Infra Server on a single Linux server that’s easily run in an on-prem virtual machine. Chef Infra Server enables you to store and share Chef Infra cookbooks, polices and other Chef content across your organization so you can apply configurations to target Linux, Windows and Mac nodes wherever they live, on-prem or in the cloud.  

Chef Automate is the UI dashboard that allows you to view your infrastructure, your Chef Infra cookbooks, policies and applications, and see at-a-glance the state of your systems. It also allows you to create third-party integrations with Slack, ServiceNow and others, gives you the ability to set up RBAC controls that limit content and views to different users, and more. 

The second video – How to Set Up Chef Workstation, Create a Cookbook and Get Started with Compliance – shows you how to immediately start using Chef Automate and Chef Infra Server for real work. The video explains how to configure your laptop or desktop with Chef Workstation, the free developer’s kit that includes tools like knifechefChef InSpec, Cookstyle and Chef Habitat. Initial configurations are clearly explained so you can use your workstation to interact with Chef Infra Server to bootstrap nodes, apply cookbooks, test configurations for compliance, and much more. 

To get you familiar with Chef Workstation and developer workflows, the video walks you through bootstrapping nodes, a process that adds the Chef Infra Client to each and configures them to communicate with Chef Infra Server. The video example uses x86_64, Arm and Windows platforms as targets to show how to manage multiple system types with a single Chef Infra recipe. You can apply the same techniques to bootstrap your own mix of VMs, LXCs, Raspberry Pis, cloud instances or physical machines as target nodes. 

The video then explains how to create a simple cookbook to add an admin user to Windows and Linux nodes. Finally, it explains how to create an associated Chef InSpec profile to test the Windows vs. Linux logic written into your Chef Infra recipe to ensure your nodes are in compliance. 

If you’re looking for more ways to optimize your usage of Chef Infra I recommend checking out the Chef Infra Best Practices Quickfire Webinar Series and/or downloading the Chef Infra Automation Best Practices eBook. Be sure to check for more resources and join the Chef Community Slack channel


John Tonello

John S. Tonello was a Technical Marketing Manager at Chef.