Cool doesn't have a dress code, but it does have great Ninja customer service.

Bonobos is the largest men's apparel brand to launch online in the US. To keep its e-commerce business running smoothly, the company uses Chef™ to automate configuration management and application deployments in its Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud infrastructure.

The Challenge

Bonobos runs its entire business on the web. The company uses AWS as the foundation of a service-oriented infrastructure that supports its proprietary e-commerce platform and complex application stack. Ensuring 100 percent uptime for its website and managing more than 150 cloud servers at any given time is no easy task. It involves

  • Keeping pace with customer demand by improving application development velocity
  • Maximizing uptime by becoming more adaptive to changes in cloud service fluctuations
  • Managing configuration and delivery of cloud resources with minimal staff

The Solution

Bonobos deployed Chef to automate configuration management and to integrate with Jenkins CI, with the goal of orchestrating application deployments within its AWS infrastructure.

The Results

  • Accelerated application delivery by combining Chef with Jenkins to create "one button" application update deployments
  • Achieving highest levels of resource consistency by using Chef to manage cloud infrastructure with simple code commands
  • Reducing systems management by leveraging existing Chef Community cookbooks to automate common tasks

Bonobos Recipe for Success

Bonobos began with a simple idea - make great fitting men's apparel and provide a hassle-free way for men to shop. Since launching with this focus in 2007, the online clothing brand has expanded into a full-closet menswear solution and partnered with like-minded brands to offer a 'one-stop-shop' for affordable, high-quality men's clothes. Executing the company's mission meant foregoing the traditional 'brick-and-mortar' retail model and selling wares exclusively online. Leveraging AWS, Bonobos built a cloud-based infrastructure, providing nearly limitless compute capacity for growing its e-commerce platform. However, using the public cloud also created significant management challenges for the company's lean engineering staff. Using Chef and its Knife EC2 command-line plug-in for AWS, Bonobos' engineering team automated everything from configuration management to application deployments across its cloud infrastructure, maximizing both application development speed and resource consistency.

"It would have taken us much longer to build a brand if we invested in the traditional brick and mortar retail route. The vertical e-commerce model lets us get directly to our target consumer faster, with much less overhead," said Jeff Hart, Senior Director of Engineering and Systems Infrastructure, Bonobos. "Of course, managing a major cloud installation creates a whole new set of headaches that would have been overwhelming without Chef."

Bonobos' business depends on its website's ability to process, respond to, and deliver on customer demand - from Father's Day to Christmas and back again. The company needed to bulletproof its AWS infrastructure against cloud outages, resource errors, and scale limitations. Using Chef for resource configuration and management, Bonobos can leverage reusable recipes and cookbooks of code to automate everything from spinning up a single server to creating test, development, and disaster recovery environments. Because Chef abstracts infrastructure management to simple code commands, Bonobos now has a repeatable model for spinning up, moving, adjusting, and spinning down its cloud infrastructure to align with site demands and cloud service changes.

"Chef lets me use a simple block of Ruby code and define large numbers of servers," Hart continued. "There's no confusion about when, why, or what needs to happen - it just happens. This means our infrastructure is both resilient to cloud fluctuations and highly predictable, freeing our developers to do their thing without waiting for compute resources."

Bonobos combined Chef and Jenkins to create a 'one button' application delivery pipeline, making its e-commerce platform more resilient and agile to spikes in site traffic. Using Chef to orchestrate application updates with Jenkins as the delivery mechanism, Bonobos developers can deliver new innovations more quickly, and with less risk of human error. In addition, Chef Community cookbooks for Java and Nginx provide rock-solid code for executing configuration and development tasks in minutes, further improving efficiency.

"Thanks to Chef, big management issues are now trivial and our dev team has the resources they need to churn out new apps faster and better than ever," Hart concluded.

"Chef just works. It's more reliable, predictable, and powerful than any other automation platform I've worked with and because it's hosted, I never have to worry about managing it myself. I just enter some code and whatever I need to do is done right, every time." Jeff Hart, Senior Director of Engineering and Systems Infrastructure, Bonobos

About Chef

Chef is the provider of Chef, the automation platform for the coded business. Chef provides the speed, flexibility, and efficiency to compete in the digital economy. By modeling IT infrastructure and application delivery as code, Chef empowers businesses of all sizes to easily scale to meet demand, eliminate down time, manage complexity, and accelerate time to market.