Chef and Microsoft Windows

Chef and Windows make a great team. Use Chef to automate your Windows stack and get the speed and agility you need.

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Optimize Your Use of Windows

Use Chef to:

  • Reduce your reliance on golden images.
  • Read, create and write registry keys.
  • Run configuration tasks using either 32-bit or 64-bit processes.
  • Apply fine-grained permissions using Windows security groups.

The Chef client runs as a lightweight Windows service for easy monitoring.

Automate Configuration Tasks

Chef lets you automate every aspect of Windows management. Here’s a simple example. How often do you have to create registry keys and set the values? With Chef, you can write code that makes this common task a repeatable, versionable process.

registry_key "HKLM\\Software\\MyApp\\MyConfig" do
  values [{
    :name => "NewRegistryKeyValue",
    :type => :multi_string;
    :data => foo\0bar\0\0
  architecture :i386
  action :create

Chef lets you set the architecture to use either 32-bit or 64-bit processes.

Speed Up Your Deployments

Configuration management is just the start. Use Chef to automate your entire pipeline and deploy as often and as quickly as you want.

See How It's Done

Chef has a proven track record when it comes to Windows. Nordstrom and Ancestry have shared their journey with Chef and Windows. To get started, listen to John Esser talk about why used Chef as their automation platform when they built a continuous delivery pipeline.

Chef and Desired State Configuration (DSC)

DSC is a PowerShell-based configuration system for Windows that is provided by Microsoft. Together, Chef and DSC make a powerful combination for managing your infrastructure, both in your data center and on Microsoft Azure.

Chef and DSC share common concepts, such as the notion of policy-based convergence. Properties in DSC are similar to attributes in Chef. Resources in DSC are similar to Chef resources. Using Chef’s forthcoming DSC support, any resource that exists in DSC will be available in the Chef DSL.

Although we’re still developing our DSC support, you can get a sense of where we’re heading. Take a look at Power Chef – Enhanced PowerShell Integration for Chef Recipes. Adam Edwards gave this presentation at ChefConf 2014. Another good resource is PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) and DevOps in Windows Azure. This talk occurred at Microsoft’s TechEd 2014. In it, Chef’s Julian Dunn demonstrates how to use DSC from Chef (his demo begins at approximately 51:00).

Learn More

Want to learn more? Go to Learn Chef. There's a whole set of tutorials for Windows users. See how easy it is to get started. We've also got a comprehensive set of docs. Here's the page on how to use registry_key.