Changing the workflow at Zynx Health with Chef
Using Chef, AWS and other tools to deliver products quickly and reliably.
Zynx was the first Hearst business unit Pauly worked with to evaluate its workflow and see how it could be improved. There were a few reasons why Zynx was a good first choice. First, the team members were experienced Agile practitioners who already practiced continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD).
Creating a plan
The first step was to find out what the team’s goals were. For Zynx, their priority was less about volume and more about velocity. They wanted to ship more quickly. Their product platforms were at various levels of maturity when it came to infrastructure as code. They wanted to streamline their processes, make them consistent and eliminate rote, mechanical tasks that were slowing them down.
The team accepted that, in the beginning, heavy lifting would be required. In order to address their technical debt, they had to set some time aside, perhaps in each quarter, each month, or each sprint and start chipping away at it. They would prioritize their problems not by technical value but by business value, so that management could easily see the benefits.
They began with a blue sky scenario, where they thought about what an ideal environment would be, without considering any barriers. Then, they built a roadmap that could get them as close to that environment as was realistic.
Pauly brought in people from AWS who reviewed what the team was doing and gave advice on how to proceed. He did the same with Chef.
Pauly Comtois, VP of DevOps at Hearst Media
Before the team improved their process, they manually deployed a security tool to over 90 servers. On average, a deployment took 15 minutes per server, consuming about 22 ½ man-hours. To replace this manual procedure, they wrote a Chef cookbook, which took about 4 hours to write and approximately 30 minutes to deploy to all the servers. Now, the cookbook is a reusable resource that they can use every time they want to install or update the tool.
Looking to the future
The Zynx team has many plans for the future. Like the rest of Hearst, they’re going to expand their use of the AWS cloud. Another plan is to begin adopting the Chef compliance scanner during the first quarter of 2016. Summing up, Pauly says, “Our use of the cloud and open source marks a significant shift for the organization and also opens the doors to exciting new things that we couldn’t do before.”