Transforming IT Operations with Chef and Schuberg Philis

Schuberg Philis is an IT services company that helps their customers realize their digital transformation goals. Joris van Lieshout is a Mission Critical Engineer at Schuberg Philis, and is responsible for designing and supporting infrastructure for a wide array of customers. This past spring we had a conversation with Joris to discuss how his team is using Chef to help his clients achieve unprecedented velocity and creativity while maintaining the environmental security their customers depend on.

Achieving Velocity in Regulated Spaces

“We achieve a more secure environment by using a tool like Chef because we create reliable environments where change is not done manually, but automated.”

With the growing size and complexity of modern environments, organizations often find it difficult to release updates with the velocity they’d like due to the potential for changes to bring with them performance or security concerns. Nowhere is this more keenly felt than in industries subject to regulatory requirements, where the stakes are high, and a hastily prepared deploy could have a profound impact on their compliance audits. Because of this, Joris told us, many of his customers were limited to at best quarterly, and in some cases even annual release cycles. Much of this was due to the fact that existing practices for deploying complex applications involved many manual steps, each adding a layer of risk and necessitating a slow, deliberate release cadence.

With Chef, the Schuberg Philis team is able to help their customers automate the configuration and deployment of their applications, allowing them to deploy with greater ease and consistency, which in turn makes validating their compliance that much easier. This allows for more frequent releases, even in highly regulated spaces — as Joris told us, “We have quite a few banking customers where we can do weekly or every two week production releases of new features…” In other words, automation brought with it an increase in speed and efficiency, while also reducing the risks inherent to each deploy.

Automate the Backlog, and Drive New Innovation

“Everything you do twice should be automated…”

An often overlooked cost of managing large environments manually is that even ostensibly trivial changes can be time consuming to implement. Add to that the typical issues or maintenance that are a part of day to day operations, and the result is often IT organizations that are struggling to keep up with backlogs of requests. With each new task a team automates, there’s one less problem that needs to be re-solved in the future. In turn, this makes recurring issues easier to address, requests easier to fulfill, and operations teams able to spend more time planning and less time reacting. Or as Joris observed in a number of his customers, “…instead of being the department that says no to the business because they’re too busy… [IT Operations is] now a platform for business to experiment and create new functionality.”

Next Steps

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Nick Rycar

Nick is a Technical Product Marketing Manager working out of Chef HQ in Seattle. When he's not busy preparing product demos, he's torturing his colleagues with terrible puns and needlessly esoteric pop-culture trivia. Mostly he's just another confused New York transplant in the Pacific Northwest.