- Bring new services to market more rapidly.
- Automated server configuration management and environment creation with a
few simple clicks, enabling agile development and efficient operations.
- Automated application deployment using Chef.
- Adapt to changes on the fly leveraging Chef's configuration
Ancestry's Recipe for Success
Since starting as a publishing company in 1983, Ancestry.com has grown into
the largest online family history resource, combining billions of digitized
historical records with proprietary online search technologies and tools to
enable its subscribers to make meaningful discoveries about the lives of
their ancestors. To power its one-of-a-kind research platform, Ancestry.com
employs thousands of primarily Windows-based servers across multiple data
centers to enable the development, testing and delivery of its many
sophisticated subscriber services. An infrastructure of this scale requires
time-intensive, demanding management, something that eventually became
cumbersome for the company's operations team.
"We believe Chef can make life much easier for our developers and
operations staff as they work to build, test and implement new features and
applications," said John Esser, Director of Engineering Productivity and
Agile Development at Ancestry.com. "Chef helps our IT teams to more
easily deploy new offerings and rapidly scale applications so our
subscribers can trace their family roots by accessing the billions of
genealogical records and millions of family trees from around the globe."
Leveraging Chef’s customer support and services, Ancestry.com installed
Chef behind the firewall in its physical infrastructure. Using
Chef, Ancestry.com has begun automating the configuration management
of its entire infrastructure, which has the ability to significantly reduce
management overhead and lay the foundation for continuous application
"Automating configuration management enables us to easily move applications
through all our environments – from build to integration, to pre-production
and finally production – with testing taking place at every stage," Esser
added. "Now a new component can be introduced and eventually published in a
seamless, continuous cycle, saving time and reducing risk."
Using Chef, Ancestry.com has been able to abstract infrastructure
changes to basic data files, enabling its development team to quickly update
the files and feed them into Chef, which creates recipes based on
these files and executes the changes automatically. For example, if a new
component requires an updated version of .NET or Java, the development team
inputs this information into Chef, which then automates the update
from the build environment all the way to production, ensuring robust
testing and analysis throughout the process.
In addition to configuration management and continuous application delivery,
Ancestry.com also uses Chef to obtain greater visibility into its
infrastructure. Chef collects and stores data on server settings and
changes, resource usage, applications and other related information,
creating a configuration management database that provides Ancestry.com with
highly accurate and granular detail on its infrastructure. Using this data,
Ancestry.com's development and operations teams can be much more
prescriptive in executing change and better utilize existing resources in
bringing new services to market.
"With Chef, we've began executing an agile development strategy,
significantly accelerating the rate at which we can bring new, sophisticated
services to our subscribers," Esser added. "Now we have the ability to make
better use of our infrastructure and are more prepared for whatever changes
tomorrow may bring."