Chef Adds Docker Container Automation

Buys startup Tower 3 for Big Data and analytics talent, reports rapid business growth in Q2

Yevgeniy Sverdlik

July 15, 2014

2 Min Read
Chef Adds Docker Container Automation
Image: Chef

DevOps software company Chef has added end-to-end management capabilities for Linux container workflows to its IT automation platform.

A new build of the Chef client, called Chef Container, integrates with all Linux containers, including those by Docker. Docker is a big name in the world of application containers. It is both an open source software project and a company that provides commercial offerings based on the technology.

Containers are a way to describe an application's infrastructure requirements so that the application can be deployed quickly in various IT environments. The most well-known user of application containers is Google, which recently open sourced a version of its container management technology called Kubernetes.

Chef Container brings container management into the company's overall IT automation framework. A new Chef plug-in, called Knife, enables users to launch, configure and manage Docker containers.

The Chef client runs inside the container and communicates with the Chef server, Colin Campbell, director of patterns and practices at Chef, explained.

Chef goes beyond just container management. "We’re really about configuring the environment for the applications," he said.

Chef buys Tower 3, adds analytics platform

Chef also announced a new analytics platform, which provides visibility into activity on the Chef server for audits and compliance. Specifically, Chef users now have access to an action log, which documents activity in the environment, such as cookbook usage, roles and infrastructure changes, presented in a single dashboard.

The company recently gained some Big Data expertise by buying a startup called Tower 3 for an undisclosed sum. Jay Wampold, vice president of marketing at Chef, said the deal was closed several weeks ago.

The acquisition, he said, was not about a specific product or technology, focused purely on Big Data and analytics talent.

Adapting traditional software testing for IT automation

Another technology addition to Chef's portfolio is the introduction of test processes used in software development into the realm of software for IT automation. Called Test-Driven Infrastructure, it applies programmatic, automated testing to the entire stack to ensure consistency.

A new installation package, called Chef DK, includes open source tools that cover the entire test and development workflow. Chef is planning to make money by offering commercial support of the open source tools to take some risk out of the equation for enterprise customers, Campbell said.

Chef's strong business metrics indicate growing demand for web-scale IT

Chef also reported a number of business metrics that show its own rapid growth as well as the growth of interest in IT automation tools that enable enterprises run infrastructure the same way web giants, such as Google or Amazon, run theirs. The approach is referred to as "web-scale IT."

The company said its recurrent revenue in the second quarter was more than 180 percent higher than in the second quarter of last year. It also had 100-percent growth in new customers, compared to the same three-month period last year.

Wampold said Chef was enjoying "tremendous" growth in the enterprise space: "Seventy percent of our total sales are coming from the Fortune 1000."

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