Guest Post: Google’s perspective on #ChefConf 2014

We were lucky to have some of the brightest minds in the industry join us this year at ChefConf 2014. GCE is a strategic infrastructure partner in the Chef portfolio and Eric Johnson from Google has been kind enough to share his thoughts as a first time attendee:

This was my first time going to ChefConf and I just had to take advantage of the invitation to write a bit about the experience.  As a sponsor and speaker, I naturally didn’t get to spend as much time as I would’ve liked going to talks, but there were a couple of things I wanted to highlight:

Keynotes – There were many great keynote talks, but there were two that stood out:

  • Barry Crist – Barry’s talk was about Stirring up Delight and it really set the tone for the entire conference.  The running theme was about Experiences Exceeding Expectations and he had a lot of great examples about how the DevOps community can (and is) transforming IT.  His example of treating automobile map updating as a Continuous Delivery problem that DevOps can solve is a perfect example of how DevOps can have a significant and innovative impact on our world. He talked about how DevOps is transforming the corporate culture of IT from a burdensome necessity to an innovation-enabler.  That notion was clearly reinforced by many other speakers highlighting their own experiences of transforming IT into a delightful experience.
  • Adam Jacob – It was very apparent that part of what makes Chef and its community so special is Adam Jacob’s spirit.  His keynote added such a human element to the conference that it was easy to feel that you were part of a community much larger than just a group of Chef users or DevOps enthusiasts, but that you were part of a family. By talking openly about the challenges from last year and his journey back to leading engineering, he was able to give a great foundation for his idea of Humane Systems Automation. It is a great idea that concepts around safety, contentment, freedom, and knowledge can empower DevOps to build awesome CI/CD automation.

Community / Attendees

Spending time at our booth, I was able to meet and talk to a lot of great people. With many open source projects, the “community” typically has a pretty clear line between users and contributors.  But with Chef I’ve found that there is almost no distinction between users and contributors. Having such a large body of users / contributors leads to a wealth of resources such as cookbooks and plugins and makes it very easy to leverage other people’s work. But it also leads to a very technically savvy group in a single venue. I was continually amazed at the breadth and depth of expertise with everyone I met at the conference and it’s clear this is another great strength of the Chef ecosystem.


As a speaker, I also wanted to compliment Chef’s choice of venue and supporting staff.  I had no issues at all with my talk, and as you can imagine, there are a lot of ways that a talk and live demos can go wrong. And of course, the food was great too!

I gave a talk on how you can use Chef and Google Compute Engine to create and manage virtual machines running on Google’s infrastructure.

  • knife-google: This knife utility lets you create and bootstrap Compute Engine instances into your Chef environment.  It supports all the standard bootstrap actions you would expect and even gives you a few extra commands for managing instances and disks.
  • GCE LWRP: At ChefConf, we announced and gave a demo on the new GCE LWRP. It provides resources for managing all Compute Engine features.  With this, you can write recipes to create VMs, converge them, and manage other Compute Engine resources.  The demo showed how you could write a single recipe to spin up four VMs, bootstrap them into your Chef environment, provide an initial run_list to install Apache and a custom site, create a firewall rule to allow HTTP, and create a load-balancer to distribute traffic across the four VMs.

If you didn’t see my talk at the conference, I’d encourage you to watch the session recording.  It showed off the GCE LWRP demo, but also gave a high-level overview of Google Cloud Platform and a deeper review of Compute Engine.

– by Eric Johnson, Technical Program Manager at Google

Justin Fenton

Former Chef Employee