It can be said about a technology company that you know it has reached real critical mass when others in the space, including competitors, talk about supporting them with the phrase, "And of course, we support <insert here>." Chef is a company that has now reached that level. In terms of automation, Chef has reached a point of critical mass among companies looking to advanced their IT operations with automation, especially with Linux and containers systems.
It is within this context that Chef held their sixth ChefConf in Austin, Texas. ChefConf is really a celebration of the Chef community, with a level of enthusiasm that is both genuine and exciting. But Chef also showed that they understand they need to grow beyond just being used by most companies to becoming the automation platform of choice of those companies.
Chef laid out their position on why companies should adopt them enterprise wide. Chef, simply put, is designed to enable the IT operator to have a bigger impact on her company. Chef raised the concept of continuous automation, which is leveraging automation to enable the shift to cloud-native applications, containers, and agile DevOps teams. Continuous automation enables operations to deliver services in conjunction with developers, as a team, with Chef becoming the common language for which the teams can communicate—removing roadblocks across platforms and applications. This improves the outcomes of the developer's work, with increased efficiency, speed, and reduced risk.
Outcomes becomes a key point for Chef. It's a recognition that application and business outcomes are really what matters for IT. This point is often lost in discussion about technology and process adoption, such as DevOps. DevOps is not about speed, shipping daily, or failing faster. It's about using speed to deliver faster and bigger impact to the customer. It's about the outcome of DevOps, not the process itself. Chef is focused on "outcome-oriented IT," where the outcomes drive the applications and the selection of infrastructure to support it, as opposed to traditional "infrastructure-oriented IT," where the infrastructure drives how applications are made, which impacts the outcomes. But it's not about devaluing infrastructure. It about automating to shift the admin focus from the infrastructure to the apps and outcomes.
Chef is staking their claim to continuous automation and the role that Chef plays in driving better business outcomes. Chef has begun the shift away from simply showing the value of automation with Chef to the value of automation because of Chef. There are certainly competitors in the automation arena but Chef is extremely well positioned with their technology, products, and partners. I certainly see Chef leading the way by becoming not just an automation provider used by enterprises but by becoming the enterprise wide automation platform of choice.