Achieving “Awesomness” with Opscode Chef (Part I)

I’d like to start by sharing a statement that was articulated to me a while ago by a vendor of antiquated enterprise technologies :

monkey-with-beer-bottle

“It’s not about the tool but the craftsman that wields it.”
- Legacy technology rep

It seemed to hold some semblance of truth until I realized why the statement was made in the first place, to fulfill an underlying agenda of continued incumbency NOT in an effort to enable the organization to strive for awesomeness. This statement does bring up some questions though:

“Is it really necessary to retool within an organization? If one solution accomplishes a specific goal why would it ever need to be changed?”

This two-part blog will provide insight to answer these questions (and those like them), while also detailing how Opscode Chef aims to deliver “awesomeness” for our customers.

Leverage = Tools

fancy_hammer

Since man first learned to use a rock to smash something or two sticks to create fire, the primary value of tools has been leverage. It is with leverage that the craftsman (Engineer OR Biz Dude) is able to achieve above and beyond what could be purely accomplished by the craftsman himself. But let’s not limit ourselves to the concept of leverage as it’s use is quite pervasive:

- Financial leverage can be achieved at varying rates of return, which can change over time and hence provide varying degrees of value

- A simple tool such as the screwdriver can provide leverage based on the construction of it’s design.

It’s not surprising that humans have continued to evolve to find new ways of increasing leverage. This applies even in the context of business process or more specifically how technology can enable business. Looking back on my career in tech, I have noticed a highly common pattern:

- The ever growing need for change not just within an organization but the competing landscape

- The need to continually adapt “leverage” in it’s varying forms to provide new avenues by which a business can succeed

Chef = Leverage

opscode_chef

So what does this have to do with Chef? In part it has to do with disruptive movements we are seeing in technology today, including the consumerization of IT, agile development, DevOps, cloud computing, and more. The other part has to do with the new “leverage” meant to support these movements such as “Infrastructure as Code” driven platforms like Opscode Chef. Opscode Chef was designed within the context of cloud, agile methodologies and enabling the craftsman in today’s global marketplace. The execution and ongoing success (even in the midst of occasional failure) of these new order initiatives is what we’ll coin, “Awesomness”.

“During the downturn, a lot of companies have chosen to downsize, and maybe that was the right thing for them. We chose a different path. Our belief was that if we kept putting great products in front of customers, they would continue to open their wallets and that is what we’ve done. We’ve been turning out more new products than ever before …”
-Steve Jobs

Awesomness = Opscode Chef

archimedes_lever

In all honesty, achieving “Awesomness” with Opscode Chef will take some work. Oh yes, that dreaded term which is embedded in most product vendors sales teams  ANTI-mantra. The key question is this:

“Will the leverage obtained from Opscode Chef and the ensuing execution of these new order initiatives provide enough value to my company?”

In today’s economic climate you better be thinking more and more about the new ways to capitalize on leverage because those companies with the greatest leverage in a down economy are most often, if not always, the ones that continue to strive, grow and capture the market.

So let’s chat briefly about Chef and what to expect from the first of 2 videos we’ll be posting. The real value of Chef is in it’s capability to enable DESIGN of your systems – how your systems are configured, operate and integrate on an ongoing basis. There are several ways leverage is provided but the one that stands out in our video is the dynamic, data-driven and buffering capabilities. These capabilities are similar to the magicians of old and new. It’s not that they were capable of performing magic, it’s that they were able to provide buffers around the constraint(s) or trick(s) and effectively remove them. Yes, the ol’ thinking outside the box paradigm aka disruption.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”
-Arthur C. Clarke

It’s with this leverage that a platform like Opscode Chef enables IT to deliver to the business reliable, resilient services, and to do so cost-effectively and repeatedly – all while enabling your craftsmen to be at their most productive.

Video: Simple Continuous Delivery Tool Chaining with Opscode Chef, Jenkins and GCE

Stathy Touloumis is a Field Engineer for Opscode and only wishes he had stumbled upon Chef when we has heads down coding and managing systems in early to mid 2000.
@stathyinc
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